“The paradox of simplicity is that making things simpler is hard work.”
The universal problem seems to be how hard people have to work just to figure out what to do. Task work has been streamlined, but knowledge work has become more cluttered and confusing. Making the right choices—fast, while everything’s changing—is now the toughest part of getting our work done.
Business is doing a great job at changing to meet marketplace, customer, and shareholder needs. And it is lousy at making work elegant—creating clarity of choice, then providing the tools and information people need to work smarter.
Business is getting real good at driving new choices into the organization. Yet it’s in its infancy in figuring out how to connect people to those choices and how to leverage everyone’s brainpower to make infinite use of finite resources and time. Top-performing companies do better than the rest, but they have only scratched the surface of what’s possible and needed.
Figuring out how to get everything done is really hard. Tougher than we care to admit.
Simplicity is an information revolution whose mission is to make the complex clear. It’s about creating the “right kind” of order. Order that still encourages dynamic change, experimentation, the emergence of ideas, innovation, and learning. This order comes from the discipline of creating clarity and meaning for the people doing the work.
Simplicity works because it is based on human nature and common sense, not on corporate logic.
First: Start with the assumption that most people want to do the right thing and make a difference. Second: Recognize that we’re living in a world of infinite choices, and that most people are truly struggling to figure out what will make the most difference. (Remember that even if you’ve created shared mindset, the human need to make one’s own choices will play out every time.) Conclusion: Create order through clarity. Invest in how people really make choices.
The paradox of simplicity is that making things simpler is hard work . . . Simplicity could be the toughest job you never asked for but must take on.
Making things simpler doesn’t have to be about more work for you, but it may mean working differently. The people you lead are seeking ideas and tools that will ignite their imagination, creating just the right tension between order and change. Isn’t that what you crave, too?