I'm breaking one of my own personal pet peeves by opening up with a quote. Let's just say when I stacked up how cliche the quote is with how brilliantly simple it is, simplicity won out.
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Author's note: By the very nature of writing a blog post, I am not keeping my message simple; for a quick bottom line - fast forward to the tweet box below.
In college I had friends in many areas of study, but a majority of them fell into two buckets:
1. Science and Engineering, and
A running, go-to joke of my science and engineering peers was the leisurely time that us business folks must have been having in college because of their perception of business as an area of study. "After all", they thought, "how hard can business really be? It's just business."
Now these quips were taken with a grain of salt and were always chalked up to friendly banter, but there was still a very real, underlying belief that they had in the truth of this. While I will concede that the complexity of business doesn't stack up to thermodynamics and computational molecular biology, if business was easy to master we would be living in a much different world.
While it's very presumptuous to claim to know the secret to business success, I think it really could be that, well, simple.
Simplicity in Your Business
If you think about it, complexity can be found in virtually every facet of your business.
- In design
- In products
- In website construction
- In copy
- In org structure
- In balancing daily and long-term tasks
- In tech systems
- In (fill in the blank)
This can reasonably be assumed to be the overall catalyst for business stress. If your brain has to focus on 12 main areas daily, and those 12 areas each have 12 sub-areas of their own, no matter how you slice and dice it things are going to be complex.
In simple terms, what we are talking about is information overload.
This same theory goes for your customers. It has been widely documented that complex messaging, convoluted user experiences and excess options/calls-to-action can disrupt your consumers and dissuade them from moving forward with a purchase decision.
Simplicity is an ideal that very few companies achieve, but those that do separate themselves from the pack.
The perfect case study for this is the recently-crowned king of market capitalization, Apple, and their cofounder:
"That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. 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
Simplicity in Communication
Communication could fall into the facet list above, but because it is so key in business (and in life), it deserves a little more elaboration.
How you choose to interact and connect with your coworkers and customers can make a huge impact on your success. Confident brevity is the secret sauce. Have you ever received an email with 3+ paragraphs of text? Before even reading, you probably felt overwhelmed which likely changed the lens through which you viewed the information.
But how do you combat this when discussing inherently complex topics that need lengthy context?
Focus on the bottom line, highlight key points and THEN provide any additional information that you feel is necessary. Think of it like implementing an appendix system in your communication.
- Here's what matters most
- Here's my 3 main supporting points
- And now here's the meat for your reference
What's the Bottom Line?
[tweetthis]"To focus on #simplicity in #business is to focus on customer, coworker and self gratification" via @lxfoley[/tweetthis]
Simplicity is not achieved overnight or even over a year, but it is something that we can strive for throughout life. At our company we have implemented many strategies from the book Traction, including "Rocks".
If you are unfamiliar with the material, Rocks are essentially large, quarterly goals that you set and follow to foster continuous improvement.
Take some time to sit down and document all of your pain-point areas, complex processes, and business bottlenecks. Then do an analysis of the implications of each and based on this, assign priorities. Focus on 1-2 at a time and you will begin to see incremental improvements in both your business and your personal life.
Keep me honest. Am I simplifying this too much? Is there another trait that you think is the underlying key to success in business. Let me know in the comments below!