We live in an age of unprecedented technological innovation, where simply spending a little bit of time online researching the different tools available for “streamlining” your professional life is enough to make your head spin.
Many an ambitious entrepreneur begins the journey down the self-employment path filled with optimism and inspiration, only to be completely quagmired by the unlimited amount of competing narratives, tips, and strategies out there.
What’s more, many professionals – entrepreneurs and otherwise – come to believe that in such a sophisticated working environment, the key to success is to rely on systems and strategies of the utmost complexity, in order to gain an advantage over the competition.
Yet, many established professionals in many fields still argue the time honoured case that “simplicity is king.”
Here are some reasons why that may just be true.
Simple systems withstand chaos and upheaval
The more complex a system is, the more “working parts” there are that can break or become dysfunctional when placed under abnormal amounts of chaos, upheaval, and stress.
This is true in the case of literal machines, and also in the case of business strategies. And when complex systems do go wrong, they often require a huge amount of work in order to be set back on the right track.
If, for example, you have a large bureaucratic structure within your company which is responsible for signing off on certain agreements, the structure will naturally be vulnerable to disaster when confronted by the loss of a key member of the team, or a circumstance that requires an immediate reaction.
Simple systems are more robust than complex systems, and that’s a point in their favour.
Simplicity reduces confusion and minimises irritation
The former U.S. Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, who now coach businesses on leadership principles via their company Echelon Front, mention an anecdote in one of their books about a business that employed an incentive scheme so multifaceted that none of the company’s employees understood it in the slightest, or felt motivated by it.
And yet the originators of the scheme were very eager to defend its merits, as it took so many variables into account.
The moral of the story here is that complexity can lead to confusion, and confusion can fundamentally undermine the supposed “good” inherent in that system in the first place.
The same is true with regards to potential clients and customers. If you’re so keen on upselling via the “checkout” screens of your website that you force the visitor to click through five different sales pages to get to the point of payment, they are very likely to lose interest and give up in frustration.
By contrast, the simple add to cart button, prominently displayed, is timeless and gets the job done well.
Simplicity forces you to identify and distill the most important area of focus at any given time
We are all vulnerable to the illusion that we can do an unlimited number of things at once.
In reality, however, time is our most essential resource in life and business alike, and there’s only so much to go around. Not only that, but trying to do too many things is also a great way of squandering more tangible resources, not least of them being money.
Simplicity forces you to identify and distill the most important area of focus at any given time. Instead of trying to finesse 25 different intricate systems to drag the client in, you focus on the one or two that are most likely to yield benefit, and then work hard to excel beyond the competition in those areas.
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