Be Indispensable to Customers: Simplify Complexity
‘You made the topic of company storytelling so simple to get. You took away all the complexity we were struggling with and gave us a much-needed, relevant, inspiring and simple framework.’
That is one of the greatest compliments I can get (or any business can get) because of how much work goes into making things feel simple. Every business and every worker – it doesn’t matter your title, your industry, your role – is in the ‘simplification’ business. And ironically, that itself might be a simplification, albeit a critical one.
Simplicity is hard; complication is all too easy. And, therefore, ubiquitous.
Original Image source: Paul L. Dineen, CC by 2.0. Modified by Kathy Klotz-Guest
Be a Chief Simplification Officer
Everyone is struggling with complexity today. There is too much work, too much data, and too much noise, and not enough meaning, substance and simplicity. Give me anti-social media, right?! Get the hell out of my Face(book)! It’s all too much and your boss, your team, your clients and you – are all human. We’re all just trying to get stuff done and the bar is going up.It’s insanity at times.
The most important thing you can do for your clients, your boss, your team (and yourself) is to simplify their lives. I have written about this on LinkedIn before with respect to communications. Being a CSO is bigger than that. This applies not just to your interactions, products and messaging, it applies to everything – whether you work for a big company, a small one, or for your own clients.
Thus, the only antidote for complexity is simplicity. That’s it. If you can’t articulate with clarity, you become a ‘complicator,’ instead of a problem solver. Prospects, colleagues and bosses will ask, “How can I trust that this provider/employee/person will make my life easier if they can’t communicate clearly?” Clear messaging makes it possible for your audience to imagine what doing business with would be like, and what results they could expect.
Again, this applies to everything we do – our methods, our interactions, our process, our communications – not just messaging (although that is a huge area for improvement in the work I see!).
Everything is up for grabs and that means there is a whole lot of innovation that can be had in streamlining and simplifying to unlock huge value for you and your boss/clients/team/company. I don’t mean ‘oversimplify’ or dumb down. I mean taking a big issue and giving people a simpler way to do things that makes their lives easier and better.
If we can help others simplify their lives by solving a problem and taking away complexity and pain, we have created value. In a world of complication and overwhelm, that is what matters.
And, ironically, simplicity can be anything but. If it were easy, everybody would already be doing it.
And no matter what business you are in, we are all – each of us – in the simplification business.
A Few Questions to Uncover Simplification Opportunities
There are many areas that can be simplified, and below are just a few ways to think about simplifying what you do and how you do it to help others (and yourself!)…
1. Do I offload people and take initiative rather than wait to be told something (that transfers a burden onto others)?
2. Is my communication crisp, clear, compelling and important (meaning I don’t burden people with unnecessary detail)?
3. Do I focus on the things that will make a difference for my boss, my team, or my clients?
4. Have I outlined my process for doing business (all the ways I touch people) in order to cut out what isn’t working, what burdens people, and kills value?
5. In business for yourself: Map out all your content and touch points. Is each way adding value or does it complicate?
6. In business for yourself: is doing business with you easy or hard? Ask customers for feedback. If it takes 4 conversations, for example, that’s a lot. Can you get down to 2 touches and a simpler contract process?
7. Call your own vmail and email yourself. Are things broken? Is there a smooth process or too many layers between you and the customer?
8. How can I make it easier for my client or boss to say yes to a brief proposal that saves me time and them the headache of having to think about it?
9. How can I offload a big burden from my team, boss, or client?
10. Always ask, what can I do to make others’ lives better and easier? And SIMPLER!
There are so many ways to simplify your process, your communication, or your engagement with others. Look for the big headaches others have and find out how you can alleviate them – without palliative medication! That’s your job! You’ll also be helping yourself.
When people see you as a simplifier of pain and complexity, your values goes up. A lot!
Be indispensable. Be a Chief Simplification Officer.
How do you keep things simple? Let me know with a comment!