Welcome to the Systematic Simplicity and Enlightened Planning website.
Chris Chapman initially developed the systematic simplicity approach working as a consultant with BP International for eight years in the 1970s and 80s on offshore North Sea oil projects. When the BP board approved the first project applying this approach, they mandated its use worldwide for all large or sensitive projects. The BP objectives included achieving ‘risk efficiency’ (a minimum level of risk for any given level of expected reward) in a ‘clarity efficient’ manner (a maximum level of relevant clarity for any given level of effort/cost) plus the delivery of projects on time and within budget. These objectives were realised for the decade this approach was employed, prior to placing more risk with contractors and a portfolio of other interrelated corporate changes. IBM UK used Chris in a central role for a 1990s culture change programme, adapting a version of the BP approach to enable all IBM staff to avoid risk of the wrong kind, but take more risk of the right kind, understanding the difference, and understanding the difference between good luck and good management, bad luck and bad management.
Chris Chapman’s 2021 book Introducing Systematic Simplicity to Manage Decisions: How a Systematic Simplicity Approach Builds Clarity About Opportunity, Risk and Uncertainty Essential to All Best Practice Decision Making explores the basic deliverables of the systematic simplicity approach used by IBM and its BP foundations as subsequently employed by many other adopters in Part 1. Parts 2 and 3 address further aspects of project, operations and corporate management, including corporate strategy formation, safety and the processes underlying all systematic simplicity approaches. They use further examples based on extensive Ontario Hydro, National Power, UK Nirex, Railtrack and UK MoD consultancy engagements. This book has been written for a very wide audience, to provide a concise and relatively short but comprehensive introduction to the systematic simplicity concepts and operational tools plus the underlying earlier literature that it builds upon. It is about how systematic simplicity can deliver what all ‘best practice’ ought to deliver.
Routledge published the book Enlightened Planning: Using Systematic Simplicity to Clarify Opportunity, Risk and Uncertainty for Much Better Management Decision Making by Chris Chapman in 2019. It generalises the systematic simplicity approach and associated critiques of common practice in the 2011 Wiley book How to Manage Project Opportunity and Risk by Chris Chapman and Stephen Ward, the extensively revised and retitled third edition of their 1997 bestseller Project Risk Management. These books received strong endorsements from a wide range of international experts, but they provide a level of detail some readers of the book Introducing Systematic Simplicity to Manage Decisions may not need.
The term ‘systematic simplicity’ characterises an evolving approach driven by the mantra ‘keep it simple systematically’, ‘enlightened planning’ describing Chris Chapman’s 2019 view of what this ought to involve. This route to defining systematic simplicity assumes that you may wish to develop your own variant of ‘systematic simplicity’, using the toolset built into the systematic simplicity approach to guide the adaptation process, and organisations or professions may find explicitly developing their own brand or flavour of systematic simplicity in conjunction with other toolsets a useful proposition.
This website was initially setup in 2019 to promote and support the ideas underlying the book Enlightened Planning. In 2021 it was revised to address those interested in the book Introducing Systematic Simplicity to Manage Decisions in addition to ‘systematic simplicity’ in the broad sense associated with its ongoing development.
If you have not yet seen a copy of the books Introducing Systematic Simplicity to Manage Decisions or Enlightened Planning, this website’s Book Information page provides information you might like to start with, including access to downloadable samples of the contents and links to order copies. The samples of the contents for both books include a set of endorsements from a wide range of practitioner and academic perspectives of the systematic simplicity approach as it is explored in detail in the Enlightened Planning book. They also include sufficient biographic background information for the author to clarify ‘where he is coming from’. Both books are written in a conversational first person form, essential given the nature of the intended messages in my view. The rest of this website is also written in a conversational first person form for comparable reasons.
The Courses and Workshops page provides information about downloadable notes, slides and case studies which you may find useful if you want to make use of either book to provide professional or university courses and workshops in a wide range of different ways. They focus on my recent experience as a starting point which you can build on according to your interests.
The Further Information page provides information about other websites you may find useful, starting with a few that I am currently aware of, with a view to possibly adding more as I learn about them based on feedback. This page may be added to in other ways over time, in part driven by feedback, in part driven by my ongoing experience further developing the ideas underlying systematic simplicity toolsets.
You can contact me by email at C.B.Chapman@soton.ac.uk.
For those who expect a recent photograph of website authors, and in support of the first person conversational approach to this website, a 2020 picture is provided below.