One of the most effective ways to order your world is to simplify everything you encounter. However the problem is that keeping it simple often becomes very difficult when our basic human nature is to over-complicate everything we touch. In thinking about the people I respect the most, to the one, they possess the uncanny ability to take the most complicated of issues and simplify them. You will find that the best leaders, communicators, teachers, and innovators have a true knack for taking extremely complex, dense or intricate content and making it engaging and easy to understand. In fact, it was Leonardo Da Vinci who said:
“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”
In today’s post I’ll take a look at the often overlooked benefits of keeping it simple.
While simplicity may have become a lost art, understanding the importance of simplicity is nonetheless critical to your success in business. Consider all the presentations/meetings you’ve attended in the last few weeks. Was it the people who were able to articulate their positions in a simple and straight forward fashion, or the individuals that made things complex and tedious that got traction with their ideas?
It has been my experience that the more complicated, difficult, or convoluted an explanation is, that one or both of the following issues are at play: 1) the person speaking is a horrible communicator, or; 2) the person speaking really doesn’t possess a true command of their subject matter. It is one thing to toss around the latest buzz-words or to have the most complex flow chart, but it is quite another thing to actually possess such a deep and thorough understanding of your topic that you can make even the most complex issues easy to understand.
It is almost as if business people have come to believe that complexity is synonymous with sophistication and savvy. It has been my experience that the only things that “complexity” is synonymous with are increased costs and failed implementations. There is an old saying in the software development world that states “usability drives adoptability” which tends to lend support to my observations. Those of you that know me have come to understand that I prefer to cut to the chase and get to the root of an issue as quickly as possible…this requires the ability to simplify, not complicate matters.
The truth is that simplifying something doesn’t make it a trite or incomplete endeavor. Rather simplification makes for a more productive and efficient effort that is often more savvy than other more complex alternatives. As an example I’ll use the area of design to prove my point. I can think of no better representation of simplicity at work than the iPod. Apple took something complex, sophisticated, and feature rich and crushed the competition by making it simple. The simplicity of the iPod is exactly what makes for a great user experience. Absolutely nothing is lost in the iPod’s simplicity, and it is in fact the simplicity itself which makes it so classically elegant.
Another benefit of simplicity is that it serves as a key driver of focus, which enables greater efficiency, productivity, and better overall achievement. Keeping things simple allows you to focus on one thing at a time without the distractions that complexity by its nature breeds. I would suggest that you break down every key area of your business (operations, administration, marketing, branding, sales, finance, IT, etc.) and attempt to simplify your processes, initiatives, and offerings.
As a C-level executive you must focus on simplifying your day in order to maximize your efficiency. By simplifying everything from the information and reports you view, to your communications protocol, to your agenda, to your decisioning structure, you will be better able to operate in today’s unnecessarily complex world.
Mike Myatt, is a Top CEO Coach, author of “Leadership Matters…The CEO Survival Manual“, and Managing Director of N2Growth.