Keeping It Simple…SO HARD…SOOO Important


I admire people who can articulate complex issues in simple ways like Warren Buffet.  As a writer I know how hard that can be.  Numerous drafts and rewrites.  Iterative edits to take out superfluous words.

As I have grown older I find the same concept applies to life in general. I wish I had known this when I was younger.  Of course, I would not have listened…or maybe I simply wasn’t wise enough to distinguish silly rabbit trails from the real trail.

Any way this article is an excellent short read on simplification through subtraction:

…by removing things one creates self-imposed constraints, but also clarity and a cleaner context for inspired innovation.

What sticks with me most about the conversation is the simple pragmatism and prescriptive nature of the word itself — subtraction. How much more direct can you get than to say you need to subtract something? In business, we often dance around the subject by using MBA-speak like “focus,” “alignment,” or “prioritization.” These words imply the need to edit, clarify, and rethink, but aren’t as direct as asking someone to subtract.

“Less is more,” the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe liked to say. You may or may not agree with this as a philosophy of architecture and design. But in the world of business it can be a remarkably effective approach. I owe this insight to my friend Richard Saul WurmanHere are five “laws of subtraction” for business leaders to consider:…More at The Power of Subtraction – Anthony Tjan – Harvard Business Review

What I would do:

As I get older simplification seems to become a more and more common theme.  In marketing I am convinced we need to narrow our focus.  In goal setting I am convinced we can execute on no more than three major goals a year.  In direct reports it has always been understood that 7 and maybe 10 is the absolute limit of effectiveness.

I have been thinking about this subtraction for a while.  One thing it has led me to is a clearer definition of the clients with whom I can succeed and those with whom I can’t.  I focus on the former and avoid the latter.