“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

As mentioned in a previous post, How to Simplify Your Life to Achieve Better Balance, my current Big Goal is to stay present, in all things at all times. I find I’m best able to do that when my mind is not focused on multiple goals, judgments, hopes, criticism or any of the other forms of head trash my mind generates. I am doing a lot of different things this year but at the core is being present – everything I want flows from this. What’s your main focus for 2016 for yourself, your team, your company?

Power Point could be the culprit but, for some reason, corporate communication is getting very busy; wordy, and landing on the intended recipient with a boring thud. Employee engagement is low because few people are inspired by a compelling and simple “Why.” Why are we doing this? To make more money? To get more done with less?

The only thing these goals motivate you to do – is to retire early.

A Leaders Task – Simplify the Message and the Environment

Great companies and teams are focused and pumped because they are working toward one or two key goals, and they are disciplined.

  • Set One or Two team goals – Your job is to find out what the one or two rallying goals are for your team or company. A goal is time-bound, measurable, and specific and people who are working on it feel they have a meaningful influence on whether the goal is achieved or not. Think, “Land a man on the moon in less than 9 years”, sort of thing. Goals are not the way you get something done (e.g., Be the employer of choice). Financial targets are ok goals, but really? Boring. Share price? That’s a by-product of focused energy and only a useful motivator for the top brass, assuming their comp is tied to it. Keep it simple like: To be the lowest cost provider in our industry. To have the largest market share among our competitors. To exceed all of our key KPIs in our customer contracts. To have the highest safety rating among our competitors.
    Be realistic with your team’s goals and expectations, yet put in an inspiring and “stretch” target.


  • Remove distractions – The other part of a leader’s job is to create an environment that the team can thrive in. This means having the discipline to create and maintain simple KPIs, simple meeting agendas, and holding the tiller steady, without throwing in projects that are not related to the key goals or that will distract the team from their focus on those goals. Communication to your team is simple and clear and tied to measuring progress toward the goals.
    Focus your management energy on holding people to account for their commitment to achieve the stated goals and to perform in their role at a high level as measured by objective standards. Simple does not mean passive or low-intensity.

Why Jobs says that “Simple can be harder than complex,” is because it is hard work to understand your business so well that you know what’s really important, and have hired people that are talented enough that you don’t have to consume yourself with all the “how” that gets you to the goal. Correct me if I am wrong but, if the focus of a team or company is simple, the team or company is operating at a high level.