Date: May 1, 2009

Author: JT

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Simplicity

simpleThere seems to be a battle amongst us: Simple versus Complex.  At times it seems complexity, especially unnecessary complexity, is winning the day.  But Why?  A key reason: Simplicity can require courage and hard work.

We become embroiled in the day’s events; the to-do list grows; the priorities multiply; and, whether our minds frame it quite this way or not, we wonder, “Why aren’t things ever simple anymore?”  Stress goes up, productivity down, and revenue is straight-lined.

At one point, a subordinate lamented being unable to get anything done, he was spread too thin, he needed more time.  He’d become so mired in constraints as to begin losing effectiveness.  My request was that he right down every single obligation (to-do) he had.  It ended up being a list of about 70 things completely covering a 4’x8′ whiteboard.  The very act, the work, of writing it all down helped.  Preparing to run interference for him, I had him pick only 4 or 5 items off the list, and work on them until they were done.  Forget the rest.  At least if he got 4 or 5 done, he had 4 or 5 done, instead of being spread so thing nothing was done.

Writing it all down, picking a few off the list, and focusing on only those few was a simple approach.  Sometimes applying simple tools can be amazingly effective in revealing and up-ending complexity.

As we move forward I’ll address Simple some more.  But given the notion of ‘needed simplicity’ came up in two meetings this week, I wanted to remind you: Step back, take a breath, and see if there isn’t a simpler way to do what you need to.

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