Keep It Simple

Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, in their book Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World, demonstrate that a few simple rules are the secret to overcoming complexity.

Simple rules are not new. They have been practiced by religions and societies through the ages and are a method to overcome analysis paralysis and other delaying tactics.

As they explain, there are six types of simple rules. Three types are about what to do—boundary, prioritization, and stopping rules—and three types are about doing things better—how-to, coordination, and timing rules.

They then go on to provide a system for creating simple rules that works for both businesses and personal lives:
  1. determine what will move the needle in the right direction;
  2. find and choose a bottleneck to conquer;
  3. and then craft simple rules that will work for the situation.
They also provide many examples of how simple rules have helped countless situations and how to even refine and/or remake simple rules when things change.

People are more likely to remember and follow a few simple rules rather than a long rule book, so if you want things to stick, go the simple rule route. Or if you need to have an emergency plan, devise simple rules everyone will buy into and train everyone on these.

What I found most interesting is that this presents a different way of looking at things I have known about and read about elsewhere. It's basically a method that can help you spend your time more wisely, create new habits, make decisions quicker...or whatever you need them to do.

For example, if you are overwhelmed with where to spend your time—
  • figure out what your goal is (what moves the needle), 
  • what the problem is (the bottleneck), 
  • and then devise rules on what you should and should not do to move beyond it. 
Keeping it simple always works and as the science they share proves, this actually helps with success instead of hindering it. So next time you think you need a long report, presentation, and/or paper to make your point, simplify it.

What area of your life can you apply simple rules to? 

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