Are You Overcomplicating?

71Chances are there’s something you’re working on now that seems overwhelming.

You may have lots of moving pieces on a never-ending project.

Or you’ve got too many people involved in making important decisions.

In business, things can be complicated. You’re inundated with massive amounts of information daily.

You have to consider strategic issues, tactical implementation, competitive pressure, change, technology, etc.

And then there are the truly complicated challenges — “people issues.”

People issues show up as personality clashes, performance problems, hurt feelings, conflict, blame, jealousy, turf battles, communication problems.

It can be difficult to know where to put your time and attention. Trying to focus on everything at the same time is exhausting — not to mention unproductive.

So your goal as a leader should be to strive for SIMPLICITY.

What areas of your business are you over complicating?

Clients frequently report challenges in these areas:

Business strategy: Some companies are over complicating their strategy development process with too much data. They tend to over analyze — and have trouble executing. As one CEO said, “We’ve got so many metrics in place, we’re spending too much time trying to track activity without getting real work done.”

Marketing: Some companies feel pressure to jump into marketing tactics like social media and advertising when they haven’t thought through their marketing strategy. It gets complicated. Before they know it, they’ve spent lots of money on activities that aren’t producing results.

Communication: Entrepreneurs struggle to make their marketing message simple. “How can we explain what we do so our market understands our services — and wants to buy?”

Processes: Large companies are especially vulnerable to complicated processes. Many are working to streamline processes in different areas to increase efficiency and reduce cost. Determine a process you’ll improve that will make a big impact.

If you’re over complicating, here are some things to stop doing:

1. Stop procrastinating. Creating complication can be an excuse not to take the action you really need to.

“I’ve got so much to do, I don’t know where to start!” You may be complicating things in your own mind. Change your view. Think, “This doesn’t have to be complicated.”

2. Stop deciding by consensus. Some decisions can be made at the top without everyone’s involvement. Involving too many people in your decision-making naturally complicates the process and slows it down.

Some executives are concerned about leaving some people out. They feel political pressure to include people who really don’t need to be involved. Use your discretion.

3. Stop creating so many choices. Contrary to popular belief, people prefer fewer choices. Limited choice aids decision-making.

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz is a good read on this topic. He makes the case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety and busyness of our lives.

Rework service offerings or solutions for clients to make it easier for them to find the value you offer.

4. Stop micromanaging. Unfortunately many micro-managers may be unaware of their own behavior. It bogs down projects and muddies the waters.

Allow employees to think and do for themselves. You’ll accelerate progress.

5. Stop trying to prove how smart you are. When you know a lot about a specific topic, you don’t have to share everything you know. You might create confusion unintentionally.

Focus only on what’s most relevant.

When you’re frustrated by situations that seem too complicated, ask questions like these to uncomplicate:

  • What’s the shortest route to the outcome we want?
  • What if we can really achieve our goal in half the time?
  • What’s the core message?
  • What are the most relevant ideas to consider?

Simplicity is smart — but it’s not always easy.

Your leadership challenge is to look for ways to create simplicity in your work and business.

Keeping things simple helps your team, your customer and your business.

PS — What will you simplify in your work or business?

I’d love to know.

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