Intelligent fools…

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

E. F. Schumacher

Today’s quote reminds me of a post from a few weeks ago that you can find here.

The burden of communication is on the one who is communicating, not the person who is to receive the message. Great communicators find ways to make the message simple, to reduce complexity, to convey only what matters to the story they are telling. If someone insists on making it complicated, it is more about themselves than the person they are trying to communicate with. This isn’t to say that there aren’t incredibly intricate things that must to be conveyed but the ability to do so will be completely dependent on one’s ability to simplify the information. Having all the data and information in the world won’t help if you can’t convey it in a meaningful fashion.

Here are a just a few questions and tips to consider when you are working to simplify the complicated:

  • What is the story I am trying to tell?
  • What is the single most important thing I need the other person to understand?
  • How can I make this simpler? How can I make this simpler? How can I make this simpler? (Yes, I repeated that three times, it is the continual asking of this question that allows one to distill down to the essence of what matters.)
  • What are the questions that I want to be asked?
  • Why does this matter to my audience? If there is a single word or thought that doesn’t matter can I kill it?

There are a million great questions and ways to further refine the complex but it starts with a deep desire to communicate clearly and cleanly with the focus on the audience and what they need to understand, not what you need to convey. Otherwise, you run the risk of being labeled an intelligent fool…

Think simple…

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Steve Jobs

When you come up with a simple solution to a problem does it feel fulfilling to you? Sometimes it seems that we come up with complex solutions to problems to justify our involvement or our participation. The perception is that if it is simple then anyone could do it, but doing something complex takes special skills and talents. Our identity as leaders and contributors can be wrapped up in HOW we solve the problem instead of focusing on the problem that needs to be solved. We justify our worth based on the activities required to make things complex. I can admit that I have been very guilty of this over the years, especially when I was younger and seeking to prove myself. I wanted to create complex solutions that solved the problem instead of finding the cleanest and simplest path forward.

Complex can be fun and exciting but simple is beautiful and elegant. I agree that simple can take much more time than complex, it requires getting out of your current mindset and seeking new perspectives to address a challenge. But the reward for creating simple answers to complex issues is that everyone can understand and appreciate the solution. You don’t have to spend nearly as much energy explaining and teaching, instead you get people engaged and using because they intuitively understand. Creating simple is hard hard work, but the juice is worth the squeeze…

Keep it simple on Good Friday…

  “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Confucius

I found this quote to be thought provoking on Good Friday morning. The world is so busy, so complex, so fast at times that we can easily forget why we are doing things and what life on this earth is truly about. I know I do anyway.

So today the challenge for myself is to simply slow down, step back, breathe, and reflect on what is truly important. It is amazing how clarifying this can be…

Say “no” to non-essentials…

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

Lin Yutang

I have been on a journey to simplify in life and focus only on the most essential and important things. It is incredibly challenging for me to do, but has been very enlightening and clarifying. Definitely not saying that I am wise, but that I can see and have great appreciation for this wisdom.

It is interesting to see how much time we spend doing things that truly aren’t essential. There are so many things in life that are competing for our attention that saying “no” can be truly liberating. I will say that doing so takes more discipline and intentional focus than I would have ever thought possible. But it is worth every tough decision.

What is the one thing you should say “no” to today?

Speed + Simplicity + Self-confidence = Success

“The 3S’s of winning in business are speed, simplicity and self-confidence.”

Jack Welch

I love this!  When you think about it these are mutually dependent variables.  You just can’t have one without a good dose of the other.  

In today’s world speed is more critical than ever and you just can’t be fast if you allow complication to creep in to your processes or thinking.  Do some problems require complicated solutions?  Of course.  But the essence of creating speed is simplicity, and you simply can’t be fast to market, fast to grow, fast to learn, if complexity rules the day.  If you want to be fast, you have to find ways to keep things simple.  Period.  Simplicity is the great enabler of speed.  

Self-confidence (never to be mistaken for arrogance or high ego) enables speed and simplicity through decisive action and the ability to learn and adjust.  All too often we measure our own self-worth not on the results, but on the complexity of whatever solution we have created for a given problem.  Self-confidence is knowing that simple is good and that just because we are keeping things simple it is NOT an indication of low-value or low worth.

The road to mediocrity and irrelevance is paved with slow and complicated projects/programs/products.  I can’t imagine that much self-confidence was created through these failures…  

 

 

%d bloggers like this: