We have spoken with so many people over the least two weeks who are sharing with us they have worked harder and their schedule seems more complex than ever before. One might think, without commutes and cross-country or global flights, the days would get easier. Yet juggling, in some cases, entire families working from home – whether it be professional or school – cooped up and possibly getting a little cabin fever, many are finding working from home far more challenging than they had hoped.
How can we take advantage of the change and intentionally add a little simplicity to our new routines?
A Rube Goldberg machine is a deliberately complex contraption in which a series of devices that perform simple tasks are linked together to produce a domino effect in which activating one device triggers the next device in the sequence. The ultimate end is to complete a final, simple task that makes you wonder why the bizarre, ingenious and complex interconnection of events was even necessary, while amusing. The source of bemusement is named after American cartoonist and inventor of such contraptions, Rube Goldberg.
Mr. Goldberg once described his inventions as a “symbol for man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results.” Over the years, the expression has extended beyond just describing these complex machines to describe any confusing or complicated system which deliberately slows progress and serves as a complex barrier to productivity and transparency. Examples include the IRS Tax Code, healthcare, banking and financial services, the legal system, and customer service in most large corporation, just to name a few. They have consciously chosen complexity over the virtue of simplicity, and we are all paying for it dearly.
Today, Simplify Your Life, and flip Rube Goldberg on its head. In this time of quarantine, this goal could become this simple – get intentional about removing complexity and confusion from your life, your relationships, your day and your business to accomplish maximum results with minimal effort.
Simplicity vs Complexity
Simplicity is a beautiful word meaning the condition of being easy to understand or do. By its mere mention alone, simplicity creates this real sense of relief and freedom in this increasingly complex world. We need to actively pursue it, use it as a benchmark measurement, and include it as a part of every decision we make.
Complexity is a barrier to success. It is intellectual pollution which smothers clear thinking and has a negative impact on productivity, customer delight, corporate profitability and your own peace of mind. Complexity is also the curse of the digital age; whether in product design, decision making, education, or any daily function, it is to be avoided at all costs.
Simplicity, on the other hand, denotes beauty, elegance, purity, clarity and ease. Leonardo Da Vinci described it as the ultimate form of sophistication. It is a virtue worth striving for, yet it all too often seems difficult to find or deliver, even if and when we actually have time to think about it at all.
Simplicity must be designed
And that is where the problem starts. Simplicity doesn’t happen on its own. It must be designed into things. Without a constant awareness and sustained effort to produce simplicity, the opposite – increased complexity – is certain to be manifested.
Throughout history, the tools and technology we use have changed our bodies, our arts, our buildings, and our minds. Now, the digital tools we are using and developing are even more quickly changing us and, in many ways, controlling us. Our modern world generates complexity at warp speed.
Where we once communicated with the outside world by fixed phone lines or regular post only, we now must deal with a powerful computer in our pocket, fax, email, text, voicemails, Skype, FaceTime, posts on social platforms….the list goes on…! Where we once had a simple paper file cabinet, we now have a desktop, a laptop, tablets, smart phones, iPads, the cloud, thumb drives, multiple apps with multiple passwords and an entire suite of encryption, firewall, antispam and privacy controls, all combined to coordinate the complexities of our digital lives.
In these examples only linked to technology, consider the complexity imposed upon us by the ever-increasing number of choices available to us at every turn, or lack thereof in lockdown Simple acts such as choosing a paint color for a room can quickly become a labyrinth of complexity…a black hole that consumes your time and distracts your attention.
Cost of Complexity
The consequences of complexity are loss of focus, loss of productivity, wasted time, and an increase in uncertainty, second guessing and paranoia. In a world characterized by constant change, volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, there really is only one rule – simplicity beats complexity.
Simplicity is a very good thing. It often does not precede complexity but follows it. As Einstein said, “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler”. This is a scientist’s statement of knowledge – of lightness, completeness and accuracy. Simplicity removes waste from our value chains. It saves time and money. It improves decision making to give you a new competitive advantage – a leg up on less effective teams who fail to peel away complexity in their organizations.
As a matter of course, modern business evolution contains the seed for complexity. It does not encourage simplicity. Have you seen anyone advertise any tech piece with less features or an automobile offering downgrades? Wall to wall complexity and unlimited options are here to stay. It is a new normal.
That leaves us with two choices: 1.) get swept away on the big wave of complexity, becoming increasingly rushed and distracted while we attempt to absorb everything thrown at us; or 2.) make conscious decisions to trade off that boundless expansion of complexity for efficiency in our business and our lives by pruning away the unnecessary and getting back to the essential.
Recently, a friend of mine and his wife purged their attic. For a few days, they were taking at least 2,000 pounds of stuff to the Salvation Army –old uniforms, books, binders, office supplies, toys and clothes that occupied that unused space in their home, and lives, for too long. Some of it was found in boxes that had not been opened in the last twenty years….over three moves! He describes it as being cathartic and says they recognized, “Wewere significantly unburdened by shedding the complexity brought in boxes of unused things.”
Reaching perfect simplicity is something none of us is going to ever achieve; however, if we do not make the concerted effort and train ourselves to look for ways to simplify, we are guaranteeing our lives will become even more complex, busier and highly stressful.
Most people are not taking voluntary actions to live more simply as acts of sacrifice, but rather, to seek deeper sources of satisfaction away from the immediacy of the distractions found in our digital, consumption-based and stress filled lives. Regardless of motive, the solution requires radical acts of simplicity, new rituals, and a little common sense. For example, many high-tech gurus and are now giving their staff mandatory electronic free days.
The opportunities for radical simplicity abound when we know where to look, which is right under our nose. Know, too, the simple life is not simple. Temptation will present itself with new features, greater, speed, clever design, luxury and other fascinating gimmicks. But, if we are to leapfrog forward in the quality of our lives, that will certainly include a shift toward simpler, sustainable and more satisfying ways of living.
Simplicity is not the process of dumbing down, as nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, when we embrace simplicity, when we invite it into our lives and bake it into our businesses, true genius flourishes as earnest effort to make the complex simple is an example of superior thinking. That’s why your challenge today is to:
1. Begin by creating a flow chart of your daily activity, and then aim each act toward simpler work with greater results.
2. Look for simple solutions, simple pleasures and simple ways to accomplish maximum results with minimal effort.
3. Stop multitasking. Study after study has proven it never works…for anyone, even those that claim they are great at it.
4. Examine your work for the Rube Golbergs that are sapping your energy.
5. Then, ask yourself things like:
a. How can I simplify my sales effort?
b. How can I help simplify marketing?
c. How can I maximize follow up efforts?
d. How can I simplify our returns process?
e. How can I simplify the In-service of clients?
f. How can I simplify the buyers’ journey?
g. How can I simplify our billing efforts?
h. How can I simplify gaining referrals?
6. Then, do the same thing in your personal life.
7. Focus on simplicity in everything, every day.
I assure you, once implemented, you will be delighted by the results. You will feel lighter and more alert. You will experience far more energy and greater peace of mind — something we can all use a hefty dose of right about now.
Take care. Be well. Keep it simple.
Scott Rivers is the Managing Director of Cerca Talent+, a talent agency for the Diagnostic and Life Science Industries. Scott’s recruiting experience extends into the areas of Diagnostics, Life Sciences, Oncology and Genetics. His team manages recruitment for all levels within the commercial area of these businesses.
As a leader who has worked at all levels of commercial, medical sales and global marketing, Scott is an intense professional who works with organizations to fine tune talent branding. If you are a leader looking to expand your team with professionals who are focused on delivering work in which they take pride, and you can be proud of, every day, then Scott would be privileged to help you in the process. Having been a professional in the fields where you focus, Scott knows the ins and outs of the companies, the business and the customers you are working to come alongside.
Cerca Talent+ is a full-service Executive Search Firm with a strategic focus in the areas of Clinical Diagnostics, Molecular Diagnostics and Oncology, Genomic and Genetic Medicine. Our clients choose to work with Cerca because of our deep understanding of the industries we serve. They continue to work with us based on our extensive market knowledge, vast connections and quality of results.
That’s a good match for any company. Partner with the group that can talk shop and gain rapport with the pros who will lead your business into the future. Email Scott Rivers today at