Is Industry Complexity a Problem?

by | May 10, 2021

Complexity and uncertainty can be paralysing for industry organisations and leaders. In fact, it can become an excuse not to act or to just dip a toe in the water. 

You hear leaders of large industries say how the sheer number of firms involved is overwhelming, while leaders of diverse industries (e.g., seafood or horticulture) will say that the multiplicity of products make it difficult to set common direction and priorities.

It is not only industry leaders, but consultants and advisers who lament the complexity. Notice how often presentations begin by labouring how the industry is complex and rife with uncertainty. 

The alternative then, is to believe that the ideal industry is small, has a single product, similar sized and types of businesses, little competition and a stable market insulated from external disruptions. 

Good luck with that.

In my experience, excellence with industry organisations looks pretty similar. The main variable is not the size and complexity of an industry, but the mindset and talents of industry leaders and managers.

The ‘too complex/uncertain to act’ mindset is a problem orientation. If you flip that thinking you see a very different picture.

For example, we know for certain that consumers and business customers are not uniform. In fact, they are becoming more discriminating, valuing a diversity of different products and services at different levels of quality, volume and price points. 

We also know that new business and career opportunities constantly emerge from market disruption and change.

When you view industry complexity and uncertainty through a market lens, a large, diverse industry is an asset to leverage and not a problem to dwell on.

By choosing a solutions mindset, industry complexity and uncertainty can turn out to be a positive.

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