Keep It Simple

Over my career I have been through numerous training courses, facilitated strategic planning meetings, seminars and coaching sessions.  Many of them focused on different methods and processes to drive the success of my company or organization.  Most of them are based on complicated and convoluted processes which focus on hundreds of moving parts and different formulas.

While I am sure that the methods are based on sound underlying foundations and if utilized, could have a big impact on the performance of an organization.  Unfortunately, due to their complexity, many of the concepts are never utilized after the initial meetings.   By keeping it simple and easy to understand, the likelihood of a process being adopted is much higher.

One of the first sales training methodologies that I learned early in my career was the KISS method.  While there are many variations of the acronym, the one I learned was Keep It Simple, Stupid.  The foundation of the KISS principle is that most systems work best when they are kept simple rather than complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

The KISS philosophy isn’t only for sales situations and actually originated in the 1960’s by the US Navy and Lockheed Martin from an engineering perspective.  The philosophy is also applicable to management and leadership.  If you base your leadership style on simple underlying principles, it will be easier for your team to align and follow.

Three Pillars for Keeping It Simple:

  1. Clarity of Purpose – by establishing a clear purpose at all levels in an organization, people will understand how they fit and support the broader purpose. Most people like to know that they are part of something bigger – establishing a single broad purpose across the organization helps them feel like they are making a difference.
  2. Focused Execution – without a focus on execution in an organization, the team can meander and not achieve their goals and targets. Ensuring that everyone understands the need to focus on implementing the plan will ensure targets are hit and everyone reaches success.
  3. Measured Accountability – by putting measurements in place and driving accountability in an organization your team will fully understand what is expected of them and how well they are achieving their goals. Accountability doesn’t mean micromanaging or not giving people the autonomy to achieve success in their own way.  It simply ensures that measurements are put in place to track progress toward goals and allows for course changes if necessary along the way.

While I have put these pillars in the context of leading an organization, they can be used in many different situations.  For instance in my last post, I talked about a 10 year plan ( – you can follow the pillars above to work your plan.  Have clarity in the purpose of your plan and each element.  Focus your execution to achieve the milestones and end points of the plan. And finally, you need to hold yourself accountable to delivering against your plan.

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