Chaos is inherent in all compunded things. Strive on with diligence.
I opened one of the cupboards in my office and looked in with disbelief – it was a chaotic mess. Impossible! I had just cleaned all of these out, what, maybe a week ago. OK, maybe a month ago. How in the heck had they returned to their cluttered state?
I knew the answer. We spend almost 80% of our client project time around the idea of simplicity. I have spent 32 years committed to its strategic impact, so I knew exactly what happened – THE CREEP.
Keeping an Eye on the Creep
Simplicity is about a small sense of order, not a big one. The universe fights against big order, but you can get away with the success of small order.
Simplicity needs a rather constant level of attention. If you pass off keeping the simplicity train on track, THE CREEP will step right in. THE CREEP loves and thrives on a lack of attention. One of the favorite homes of THE CREEP is your garage. You spend an entire weekend cleaning out all the junk that had a gravitational attraction to the garage. You stand with hands on hips with a triumphant smile on your face. You conquered the black hole of order. A month later, with tears streaming down your face you cannot comprehend how the whole damn mess has returned.
THE CREEP is the creator of operational complexity. It gives birth to bottlenecks and backward thinking that stops your forward momentum and leaves you asking, “How did this happen?” Given an empty space, THE CREEP looks to fill it.
Simplicity Requires Attention
During a recent project where we were working with a client to simplify their client experience, this happened; he said, “Despite the success of our simplicity work, we just let it get away from us and started adding stuff until we were right back where we started.” THE CREEP.
If you are genuinely committed to the benefit of a simple approach to anything, PAY ATTENTION. It takes discipline to become simple and even more to stay simple.
Nothing, and I mean no strategic focus, can gain more impact than a commitment to simplicity and no strategy can collapse faster than simplicity ignored. We consistently default to our bias for more. Come on, we can add another feature, another service, we have the capacity and I think our customers really want it. BOOM, say hello to THE CREEP.
You hear people talk about simple all the time. It’s EASY, just get rid of stuff. What? No, no, no, it’s not about reduction, it’s about THOUGHTFUL reduction and then subtle adjustments until the simplicity you’re searching for fits YOU, fits your culture, fits your company, and fits your clients’ needs. It’s about allowing simplicity to be your lighthouse, providing you direction on your course.
Let it slip and you’ll find yourself loosing another weekend to a garage full of stuff, courtesy of THE CREEP.