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From Management’s Point of View ~Think Simple~

January 19, 2024



It seems to me that the phrase “think simple” can be misunderstood as thinking in a way that substitutes something simple for something complex. Here at TOPC Potentia, we see “think simple” as meaning that things appearing to be complicated are actually composed of groups of simple phenomena that intersect or overlap each other so that when you run into something that looks especially complex, the first thing to do is to break it down into easily understandable units.

 

One of our staff members explained this using an example from her own life. Her hobby is creating buildings using Lego bricks, but these are not ordinary Lego buildings. Her creations use thousands of pieces, for example, recreating the set of the movie Home Alone. For an inexperienced person like me,  it’s hard to imagine how she would even get started. Nevertheless, she manages to put together spectacular structures that are almost unimaginable when you consider the starting point. So, what then is the actual process? When building a project, she starts working on a core location, say, the living room. Then she moves on to the kitchen, for instance, followed by the bedrooms, faithfully recreating each of the rooms one by one. Later, she connects all the rooms together, winding up, in this case, with an amazing replica of a two-story movie set. In this manner, even though at first glance you couldn’t even imagine where to begin if you can discover the initial focus of the whole project and then use that as a foundation to continue forward to completion, it becomes possible to accomplish a tremendous job. This is true in the workplace as well. The bigger the project that a leader may be in charge of, the more essential is the ability to break it down into these kinds of small steps and supervise their progress.

 

Taking a more typical situation as an example, it is essential to take the standpoint that “The first page of a document or report should be laid out so that the reader can understand the entire scenario.” Just looking at the first page of a set of materials created by a skilled author will make clear the purpose, background, methods, and conclusion, indicating what the author is trying to communicate. Material developed by someone without this standpoint and skillset will tend to have a large volume of information while lacking a sense of what is being said and where the conclusion lies. With this kind of document or report, the reader’s understanding remains vague even as the project advances, such that instead of proceeding in a straight line, the work twists and turns and ends up something like a pool of stagnant water. On the other hand, cutting corners on the organization or ordering of the material in order to save time will not result in a job well done either. People have limited memory capacity, and probably won’t remember what happened after the elapse of just a few months. Unless we can instantly understand where to identify essential information, we will have to take the time to read the whole thing over again, and it will no longer be a simple task. By leaving a record in an appropriate location of where required information is to be found, so that the original situation can be discerned at any time, the value of the material will be heightened.

 

There are also authors who, despite having an excellent understanding of the material they are working on, will create documents and reports that differ in appearance or content for different clients, even though the jobs are similar. Unless the composition or format of such material is consistently produced, the person checking the content will not know where to expect particular information to be contained, and extra time will be needlessly required. The reason companies and departments have templates and the like is that by standardizing the worksheets, the information to be presented is rendered consistently, and differences as compared to other companies will be highlighted so that any reader can understand the main points immediately.

 

In summary,

1)   Complex phenomena should be broken down into understandable units for consideration.

2)   An overview explaining the material should be presented on the first page.

3)   Standardized worksheets should be used for jobs having the same content.

 

When these points are followed, complex work becomes easy to understand. When you yourself achieve a deeper understanding of something, you become better able to effectively communicate the content to others. It also saves time and reduces errors, all of which in turn should foster greater trust from clients and coworkers.

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