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Blog : Make it simple – before it’s too late


Make it simple – before it’s too late

One of learnpurple’s values is ‘Make it simple’. This is very important when it comes getting the job done.

I should stop there really because that would be practising what I’m preaching here. Or maybe I should Twitter this instead? However there is little point pointing out the obvious if you’re not going to back it up with some examples and ‘how tos’.

So why do I feel compelled to write this blog? Because we all have to fit more into less time, yet many people still over-complicate things unnecessarily. Add this to the fact that that the world moves faster; information whizzes around at the speed of light; customers want better, faster; employees are more challenging to manage. People feel they are working harder but with less to show for it. Maybe we’re heading for some sort of implosion. Or at least a lot of stress and disappointment through failing to get things done.

Sir Gerry Robinson, super successful business leader featured in TV’s ‘I’ll show them who’s boss’ said that if he had to choose one quality that a good manager needs, it is clarity. Jack Welch, perhaps the best known ‘big-businessman’ of his generation also typified his leadership style by clarity. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re doing something that feels wrong, uncomfortable, demotivating or just too hard, then you probably need to simplify.

Some managers over complicate things to appear in control. ‘Knowledge is power’ is an overused and outdated notion. So is tying people up in lots of intricate theories, over-complex models, and complicated systems. We just don’t have time. Make it simple.

If you observe successful people who get things done, you’ll see that one of the traits they have in common is an aptitude for making things simple. Einstein summed this up beautifully when he said: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.”

Start today; make one thing simpler. Below are a few ideas:

Simplify your meetings:

  • Make sure that people know when, who and how long
  • Always have a clear agenda. Plan a time limit for each item and stick to it. Buy a timer if you need to!
  • Minute only the action points and make sure these are assigned and timelines agreed
  • It’s good to talk though picking up items that need further discussion after the meeting is better than involving the whole group in ‘the detail’ if they don’t need to be
  • If someone is inflicting unclear and lengthy meetings on you, then make it your mission to do something about it

Simplify communication: this one may need some planning whilst you train yourself to ‘make it simple’.

  • Think about what you want to convey and then redraft it to simplify
  • Keep emails short and to the point, use bullet points (join the purple revolution here for more email tips)
  • Become the master of the spoken word – become known for your ability to articulate messages clearly and concisely
  • Draft written work and then edit it ruthlessly. What do people actually need to know?
  • Provide summaries for long documents and put the detail into clearly labelled appendices

Simplify your work:

  • Make sure you know what’s expected of you; what a good job looks like and how success is measured
  • Have a clear desk policy and tidy drawers, files etc. Look around now – if it’s not pristine, stop and sort it out
  • Make sure your planning and organisational skills are up to scratch and if not brush up (click here to book onto our time management learning bite) – do it, delegate it, ditch it or plan it in
  • Build in thinking time – clarity needs to be given a chance
  • If you are diverted by Twitter or other social networks or even emails, try turning them off for set periods. This allows greater focus which will help with simplifying your day.

Join the simple movement: OK there probably isn’t one but you could start your own. People sometimes aren’t aware they are overcomplicating things, so be the one to point it out. Start by making some simple changes to the way things are done. Introduce the concept of simplicity as you go about your daily business.

If you were to make things 20% simpler (and believe me it’s not hard to make things 100% simpler), you’d have the equivalent of an extra day in your working week.

What did you do to simplify things today?

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