Choose SIMPLEXITY

This is the word that started yesterday’s train of nonsense… SIMPLEXITY. I came across it in an article by Harvey Schachter. Of course, it reminded me of the Einstein quotation:

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

The gist of the concept is to identify simple steps that can build momentum towards addressing a complex issue. It’s about simplifying at the start.

I’m a great believer in simplicity – it suits my limited brain. As Winnie the Pooh said:

I am a Bear of Very Little Brain and long words Bother me.

Of course, many people operate at the opposite end of the spectrum to SIMPLEXITY. They COMPLIFICATE everything. I frequently hear the refrain “You don’t understand how complicated this is…” (or a variation thereof).

There is no denying that modern life in large organisations can be complex. But ‘complicated’ is a choice. For my tuppence worth, one of the key responsibilities of a leader is to generate action, and that carries with it a prerequisite to remove barriers – especially those of COMPLIFICATION. We need to create the conditions for SIMPLEXITY, allow space for action, then SIMPLIFICATE again to allow the next action.

It’s not rocket science, but it is a choice.

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The function of leadership

Too much attention, generally, is given to the position, rather than to the function, of leadership. But once rank assumes importance for its own sake, creativity and meaningful progress grind to a halt.

– J. Donald Walters

(HT: Execupundit)

Make room to ruminate

Following yesterday’s entry, a couple of thoughts from Tony Schwartz’s article “More reflection, less action.”

“Time to reflect is what makes it possible to prioritize.”

“The most important thing you need to do [in this job] is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking.” [Obama to Cameron]

“…good judgment grows out of reflection.”

There’s definitely something to chew over in that lot!

Reflecting on… reflecting

I’m writing this entry on Sunday evening, and I’m thinking about the away day that our senior leadership team had on Friday. For part of the day we dealt with a few matters of business, but most of our time was spent (directly and indirectly) exploring how we’ll work together as a team.

That’s hugely important, given that we’re a new team; but it would still be hugely important if we’d been together for years. Time away from the day-to-day busyness allowed us to relax, be open to each other, to listen and learn. It’s not often that a group of senior managers gets/takes the opportunity to step aside for a whole day, and it’s an opportunity that I think we seized.

For me, the day felt positive, purposeful and productive. I came away feeling invigorated and with a sense of momentum beginning to build.

The challenge will be to keep on reflecting on the topics that we covered on Friday, and to adjust our behaviours, approaches and systems accordingly. The investment will be diminished if we don’t actively follow through and add to our initial deliberations.

So, why am I writing this here? Partly to share a positive experience, but mainly to encourage the readers to consider when they last spent time reflecting with their colleagues about their values, purpose and ways of working. Without time and space to explore this, your assumptions will become norms, which will become embedded and will be difficult to change if/when you need to.

Vision-centric leadership

what matters nowThose of you who pass by here regularly (first of all, thanks) will have noticed a shortage of words recently. The truth is that I got a bit stuck – simple as that.

While tidying up in the study recently, I came across an e-book that Seth Godin published in December 2009, called What Matters Now. As I flicked through it, I came across a raft of good ideas that might help me get going again. So for a few entries, I’ll be drawing inspiration from this source – starting with Michael Hyatt‘s entry.

Leadership is more than influence. It is about reminding people of what it is we are trying to build – and why it matters.

Simply, leaders must be vision-centric. We must always start with why, explaining and instilling the purpose.

I found myself in a situation yesterday that brought this into focus for me. I was explaining (or trying to) the rationale for a project to a group of staff. Instinctively, they wanted to know the details of how we were going to tackle it. I listened, but kept pulling the conversation back to why we were doing it. If we know clearly why we’re doing it, we can deal with the how as we progress. The how is changeable, the why is fixed.