This is part two of a two-part series. Part one is here – I am assuming you have read that one first.
We are exploring the path to simplicity.
Everytime we start something new we take a free-fall. We take a 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, held 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.
So, you’re stuck deep underwater. Weighed down.
No buoy in sight. No miracle propellant.
You have to start swimming or you won’t last – the depths have made the water murky – which way do you go?
What about the weight that you’ve accumulated, which do you shed, which do you keep? Panic starts to set in. Do you resign yourself to the fact that you may be stuck here forever, or do you attempt to break the holds of complexity?
Suddenly, as if a call from the heavens, a ladder decends in front of you. The catch, you must remove only what you don’t need to climb it. Eagerly doing so, you grab hold of the ladder and make the rapid ascent back to oxygen.
Welcome to simple. Looking around, you see others there with you. A calm satisfaction abounds. Some swum up, others climbed ladders, some were guided there by mentors and guides, and a small lucky few missed the water completely.
Stronger and smarter, you are now ready for the next challenge.
So, how do you do it?
How do you break away from the sticking point? How do you only chip away what isn’t David?
Well you must figure out what David looks like!
You must have clarity about the following four areas:
1) Purpose – A clear why. This should be able to be described in one, succinct sentence. If you cannot describe the purpose of your pursuit in one sentence then you likely have too many masters. Always start here.
A quick test for purpose clarity:
If you stated your purpose to someone outside your context, would he/she immediately and intuitively understand it?
2) Value Offering (& How) – A clear view on how you deliver value to those you serve. No matter what you do, no matter the pursuit, you are serving someone. Your target value should be clear at all times. (Clarity of who you serve is also crucial here!)
A quick test for value effectiveness:
Can you clearly link each element in your offering to immediate value for who you serve? This shouldn’t be convoluted, and the value derived should be intuitive for your customers/clients.
3) Capabilities Needed – Simply, what and who do you need in order to achieve your purpose and value offering? There may be a few surprises here, but intuition and estimation will usually get you beyond 80% here.
A quick test for capability:
If you suddenly only had half capacity (people, spend, etc.) what would you stop or change? These are the first areas to look at for mismatched and over-allocated capability.
4) Improvement Path – What’s next? What’s the next fastest way to improve the value you are offering? The Weighted Shortest Job First is a nice method here, but there are many. The key element is ensuring that action commences immediately (i.e. start swimming), and that it’s towards the purpose and value offering that is now clear. Don’t change directions mid-stream. Pick a value target and pursue it relentlessly.
A quick test for path:
Can all those on your path describe clearly the path they are on, and why? A great example is The Physio Co’s ambitious mission of 2,000,000 consultations within 10 years. This was their ‘north star’, and the path to get there was intuitive. Deliver great service -> grow opportunities to serve -> grow internal capability. Repeat.
Nail these four things, remove and eliminate anything that doesn’t align, and you will find a real serenity in your new found simplicity.
There’s a true beauty in being able to describe something complex in just one, succinct, sentence.