Getting To Simplicity Part One: The Sticking Point

This Week’s Focus Point

Simplicity. It’s an art, not a science.

I have written before about simplicity, where I called out complexity as a crutch for poor decision making or to excuse poor performance.

Today let’s explore the path to simplicity. This is part one of a two-part series.

I want you to imagine you are standing at the top of a tall cliffside. There is a wide expansive ocean beneath you.

Taking a deep breath, you stare into the ocean and step off the edge – falling towards the water.

However, as you fall, you find that you are gaining in size – physically growing. Your increased size accelerates the gravitational pull and you plummet into the water at an even more incredible speed.

You hit the sand at the bottom – only to find that additional weight you gained is keeping you from being able to push back up. You are stuck at the sticking point.

Here you have two options – you can search the bottom of the ocean in the hope of luckily finding something buoyant to pull you back towards the surface – or you can start shedding the weight you picked up on the way down.

This is the free-fall that occurs everytime we start something new. We take the leap and as we deep-dive through the content, experiences and challenges, we pick up unnecessary weight: information, mindsets, cultural biases, departments, policies, processes, technologies, etc.

We then find ourselves underwater, kept there by the heaviness of the new complexity we created.

At that point there are just two options: we can try to find a lucky buoy, or we can can start shedding.

This is the path to simplicity. Shown in the diagram below.

So, how do we know what to shed?

This is where the Michaelangelo Approach helps. I am not sure who first coined this, however I came across the term via the work of Alan Weiss.

The Michaelangelo Approach is based on a (supposed) exchange between the great artist Michaelangelo and a student while staring upon the recently completed statue of David.

Student: “Master, how did you create this masterpiece?”

Michaelangelo: “Student, it was simple. I just chipped away anything that didn’t look like David.”

In part two, I will give you the four elements you need to consider to ensure you do this ‘chipping away’ effectively. You don’t want to accidentally take off David’s nose!

Your Weekly Challenge

This week:

Identifity one area you stuck under the weight of complexity, either in your business or life.

Consider, how did you get there?
Have you accumulated unnecessary, and heavy, complexity?
What are you currently doing about it?

This Week’s Thought Pulses

Leadership & Performance

You have two options to recover from complexity – find a magical propellant (unlikely) or start shedding.

Momentum & Energy

Heaviness (complexity) is the enemy of agility.

Delivery & Oversight

If you cannot explain your project in one sentence – it’s too complex.


New Free Resources!: 30 new ideas to maximise your people, processes and projects that you aren’t already doing! Find them on my resources page here.