The Complex Task of Simplicity

Dutch electronics giant Philips wants to make itself easier to manage

Aleksander Perkovic / LAIF for TIME

Shoppers can interact with this concept store window

Inside an empty former electronics factory in the Dutch town of Eindhoven, hundreds of Philips employees sit around endless rows of tables. Split into small groups, staffers of the Amsterdam-based firm--maker of everything from lightbulbs and toothbrushes to TVs and X-ray machines--get to work. "We're not always an easy company to deal with," says Theo van Deursen, boss of Philips' lighting division. From a platform in the center of the vast space--still latticed with girders and pipes, its walls temporarily lined with giant TV screens--Van Deursen lays down a challenge. "We have to find ways to make the company more simple," he...