Science: Smoothing Complexity,
Governing Risk

Organisational life is increasingly complex and messy – and fast changing. It makes it hard to get things done. Efficiency, service and morale reduce. And it greatly increases the chance of catastrophic failure, since companies don’t see early enough or respond fast enough. Most cost-cutting and efficiency measures increase these problems and make life tough for people.


Our Smoothing services reduce the risk of significant or catastrophic failure in today's volatile complexity. And they make working life more productive. Stay creative in response to worlds of change you cannot control. Improve flow and ease pain. Simplify without trivialising, guide without restrictive or destructive rules (see stigmergy). Decision-making is more coherent. Life is more creative and innovative and, paradoxically, less risky. Productivity improves through more local autonomy. People feel empowered and purposeful.

Smoothing in practice

We showed how local authority and health functions in an area of the West Midlands had their own responses to the misuse of alcohol. We clarified the way the service interactions operated and showed how many of the costs and frustrations in the system were generated by unintended consequences of particular policies.
Smoothing allowed the European procurement team of a global engineering and IT firm to see how they created the very barriers to service that they bemoaned.