With the completion of the 10-month L. E. A. D. E. R. S. H. I. P. blog series, upcoming blog topics will represent pressing issues clients are dealing with and/or trends that keep popping up in conversations with leaders and within their organizations.
One such issue is Simplifying Complexity. How many of you have left a conversation/presentation and turned to someone and said “I didn’t understand a word he said”, or walked away from a conversation with your boss and thought “I have no idea what she just asked me to do”.
At its fundamental level, simplifying complexity is taking something complicated and making it easier to do or understand e.g. ideas, concepts, data, processes and emotions. I liken it to ‘structuring fog’.
So what’s the big deal about simplifying complexity? Well for starters, providing clarity is job one for any leader. Other reasons simplifying complexity is one of the most highly valued and sought-after key strengths of effective leaders, it:
- increases understanding, reduces confusion
- accelerates learning and decision making
- speeds up the ability to take action and capture opportunities
- stimulates additional thinking, adding on, rich discussion
- increases the ability to commit
- clarifies and potentially avoids conflict and misunderstandings
- saves time and money
- increases efficiency, reduces redundancy and waste
- increases customer satisfaction, makes it easier to do business
- creates value
Simplifying complexity is a two-way street – not just the job of the speaker. As a listener, you have an active role.
As the speaker, here are a few things to consider:
- provide context before launching into specifics
- strive for the essence/spirit of the idea/concept/process
- begin with the end in mind
- think outcomes, what are you trying to accomplish, what do you want, what will you ultimately get
- break things into their component pieces/parts/patterns/themes – chunk it out
As the listener, in your quest to understand, asking powerful questions not only help get you what you want, it also helps the speaker get clearer, questions like:
- what problem are we trying to solve?
- what impact do we want to have?
- what would success look like?
- what assumptions are we making?
- who else needs to be involved?
- how do we want to proceed?
- what do you see as the immediate next steps?
Simplifying complexity is a muscle to develop. There’s a simple elegance in its practice.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak”- Hans Hofmann
I invite you to email me suggested topics or juicy issues you or your organization are grappling with – firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the website, and unlock the leader inside you!
Until next month