Ever hear of a Rube Goldberg device? Goldberg, a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author, was perhaps best known for his comical illustrations depicting complex systems performing relatively simple tasks. Goldberg’s cartoons consist of simple parts (for example, pulleys, levers, and gears) and often include humans, animals, plants, and such common household items as boots, baskets, and birdcages.

What makes Rube Goldberg’s creations so amusing is that, despite the simplicity of the individual objects that comprise them, they are complicated to the point of absurdity. It’s been said that “while most machines work to make difficult tasks simple, Goldberg’s inventions made simple tasks amazingly complex.”

Have you ever worked on a team that functions like a Rube Goldberg device? Simple processes and tasks are made extraordinarily complex due to a lack of communication, mistrust, poor decision making, inadequate conflict management skills, and a host of other reasons. What would normally take an hour to accomplish takes a day, and what would normally take a day takes weeks! The results are always the same – teamwork is compromised, morale plummets, and frustration grows until many employees “check out” altogether.

Today may be a good time for you to ask whether simple tasks are being made amazingly complex at your organization. Are bureaucracy and red tape slowing processes to a crawl? Are layers of approvals stifling creativity and innovation? What opportunities exist to relieve bottlenecks without compromising critical procedures and protocols? The answers may surprise you.