Is Simple A Better Way?

I’m sure we’ve all seen it, someone very proud of the process, or solution, they have developed.  It is complex and demonstrates how smart the developer is while amazing those who see it with its complexity.  To master such a tool must mean that we too are intelligent and worthy of the positions we hold.   Complex systems for many is a matter of pride while simple processes are looked upon with little value.   Yet, we must ask if it is that complex then what value does it bring?   That’s a good question.  Or to put it another way,   Is Simple A Better Way?

What do we mean when we say Simple is a better way?

A tag line for my business has the following bullet point; Simple – because if you can’t build anything with tools, you don’t know how to use.  That holds true with our work processes as they are tools.  Tools that help us produce a product or service.  I recently learned of what I consider a genius and innovative method to cook corn on the cob.  I like corn on the cob, my friends and family like corn on the cob; it is as American as Mom, the Flag, and Apple Pie.  We can spend seemingly forever roasting it over a grill or boiling it into tastelessness in pots on the stove.  The simple method I learned was this:

  1. Shuck 30 ears of corn (or any amount you wish
  2. Put them in a clean ice chest (or cooler if that’s the term you use)
  3. Pour two pots of steaming water over the corn and close the lid tightly.
  4. In 30 minutes, the corn is done.

Now I tried this with an even dozen ears, and it worked.  It worked better than roasting, grilling, or boiling.  Further, it freed me up so I could talk with my guests.  A win all around.

Simple processes such as this most often come from people who must execute the processes.  There is the secret to creating simple; engaging those who are hands-on experts at the process.  Generally, that means those who are on your team be they, employees or peers.  THEY are the experts and they can develop simple.  The challenge is creating an environment where your team is comfortable sharing their ideas and solutions.  To do that you must create trust.  Trust comes from:

  1. Leading by Example: If you want to build trust within your team, then lead by example.  This is a simple tactic I learned in the Army. This means trusting your team, your colleagues, and your boss.
  2. Communicating Openly: No hidden agendas, no ambiguity.  Straight talk within the Team that is honest, meaningful, and respectful.
  3. Knowing the Team:  One way to build trust is to encourage your team members to see each other as people. Think about creating situations that help them to share personal stories and experiences.  Be respectful with personal privacy as not everyone is comfortable sharing private matters.
  4. Not pointing fingers:  Stuff happens.  Mistakes get made, or things don’t go as planned.  Instead of playing the blame game look at the situation, determine why it didn’t turn out as planned, and fix it together as a team.
  5. No Cliques: These things can easily happen. Small subgroups form up mostly because of common interests.  The problem with these small groups within your group is that they can inadvertently disrupt morale and that in turn, disrupts the team.  Encourage group action and activity instead.

You don’t need a multi-million dollar enterprise software application, and you don’t need a 30 step process either.  What you need is simple.  Simple to use, Simple to understand, and simple to get results.