Simplicity can be easy

Simplicity is desirable whenever possible, especially in business. People often claim it isn’t easy to achieve. As if it were some elusive art.

In the context of a project, when simplicity is hard it’s a sign of neglect in some other aspect of the project. Often that aspect is in determining a clear objective upfront. An objective that states a succinct business outcome. An outcome that everyone involved can align with. An outcome that excites and provides value to everyone involved, because that’s what will help them remain in alignment throughout the project. An outcome that provides substantial value to customers and the organization.

Why is an objective so important? This outcome becomes the filter through which every possible detour can be measured and eliminated. Without an objective, people will wind up wandering down every possible path and that’s where complexity will wreak havoc.

That’s why I prefer to do business on a basis of outcomes, not effort. Specifically, outcomes that are worthwhile for my customers and for their customers. That way, success means the same thing for all of us. We’re all pulling in the same direction. One simple direction. This alone reduces the likelihood that we’ll veer off into complexity.

When tangential temptation arises, we have the objective to steer us back toward success. We can always take note of potentially valuable discoveries and get back on track.

The hard part is making sure we realign with the objective at hand. This requires asking hard questions when someone makes innocent requests and suggestions. Questions that explore the value of tangents and determine how that aligns with the objective at hand. And when things don’t align, reminding people what we’re focused on. And reinvigorating interest in the objective at hand.

With a carefully crafted objective, simplicity comes naturally.