Newsletter November 2023

Newsletter November 2023 Simplicity wins

Simplicity wins

This newsletter is about simplicity so we’re deliberately keeping it simple.

When we talk to the teams we work with, everyone aspires to the same thing – being able to operate with simplicity and get things done! And yet, the reality is very different. With very few exceptions, it’s complexity not simplicity that dominates day to day working life in teams.

Achieving simplicity is hard!

When simplicity is embedded into the DNA of the organisation however, it’s a game changer and it accelerates your teams speed of execution to a whole new level.

We love this quote from Steve Jobs,

Newsletter Quote Steve Jobs Simplicity

Three ways to deliver simplicity

We’ve found that making a concerted effort to weave the following three ways of delivering simplicity into the day to day can make a tangible and positive difference to how your team operates.

1. The power of a simple plan

Building a simple plan, together with your team, with clear priorities and then sticking to it sounds almost stupidly obvious, but we’ve found it can elude so many organisations and teams!

The most successful plans start with the end in mind.

Successful plans lock in the milestones. Breaking the plan into bite sized chunks is crucial. This will help your team to feel energised and celebrate success along the way. It will help you to keep momentum and stay focused.

Successful plans are built as a team effort

In our experience of working with teams, the plans that are the most likely to come to life and endure are the ones that have been built by everyone not just the leader. Gaining input from everyone is the most effective way to gain their commitment to seeing the plan through.

This also means including your extended team and where relevant – cross functional teams in the build. This wider level of level of collaboration will elevate a good plan to an excellent plan and significantly increase the odds of success.

Once built, communicating the plan across all cross functional leaders that you are going to need support from, will further increase those odds of success.

Knowing when to say no is crucial

Competing priorities derail productivity in teams, they cause confusion, stress, and are very demotivating.

To do a good job we need to know when to say ‘no’ or ‘not now’. If we are unclear on what’s most important, this is tricky to do.

It’s not now or never: agree what is going on hold. It will set your team free!

When we agree a new priority, we need to cater for the existing workload of our team. Failing to do so will increase stress because your team will feel pulled in multiple directions.

As a team, you need to call out what’s not a priority and stick to it.

Agreeing the overall rally cry, in other words,

What is most important to achieve right now?”

is a fundamental step in your team’s approach to building a simple plan.

You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to prioritise or turn down a request depending on how it fits with your team’s journey. It will empower you make faster and better decisions.

But what happens to the on-hold priorities?

The secret in dealing with these lies at the leadership level. If your leadership team/leader of a team says that a particular priority is the most important, then, other things must be less important. This needs to be agreed, and your team leader needs to give the team explicit permission to focus on the clear priorities.

We can only scrape the surface of the planning topic in this newsletter but above all else we stress is that if the essence of the plan can’t be relayed on one page – it’s arguably too complicated to work.

2. The power of simple communication

Be a stuck record

We know we said this in our last newsletter 😉 Following the ‘Rule of 7’ is a great principle to stick to in successful communication i.e. People need to hear the same message 7 times before they truly absorb and remember it.

Leaders often make the mistake of believing that if they have absorbed and locked in a key message, then everyone in the team will share the same level of understanding in terms of what is required and be able to articulate it as fluently as their team leader.

Behaving like a stuck record and constantly repeating key messages, even at the risk of becoming infuriated with the sound of their own voice is a must have skill for any leader of a team.

The organisational psychologist Adam Grant said in a Tweet:

Communication quote by Adam Grant

As well as often . . . keep it little

Team members are likely to benefit most from hearing a small number of key messages that are short, easily understood, easy to remember and that they can rally behind.

These messages must be shared consistently across all the relevant teams without becoming diluted or altered so that everyone can embrace and deliver on them. This will help to enable alignment.

When messages and communications are expressed in straightforward everyday language, this gives your team members the best chance of leaving a meeting with 100% clarity on what needs to be done and communicated onwards, when it needs to be done by and by whom.

3. The power of building simplicity as a habit

We’ve talked already about building a simple plan, communicating in a simple way, but simplicity needs to go deeper than that and be rooted into the DNA of ‘How we do things around here’.

Having a constant mindset of ‘less is more’ and turning this into a habit fuels speed of execution.

Adopt a ‘less is more’ mantra to combat growing pains

When teams and organisations grow quickly, things start to get complex! Duplication of task creeps in, process for processes sake, with team members creating tasks to justify their role.

Mark Templeton, former CEO of Citrix, believes that achieving simplicity is fundamental to execution at speed. As he says during the Get Amplified episode ‘Breaking down the glass ceilings of growth’,

More equals complex and this cuts across everything, the simpler you make things – the faster you go”

As Mark says, it is hard to stop doing something to do something new, and the natural temptation is always just to bolt something on to an existing way of working but that’s when complexity becomes rooted in and costly.

We always ask our clients to unpick their raft of processes and really scrutinise them to establish:

  1. Is this process core to delivering for our customers. Could it be made simpler?
  2. What processes can we stop doing because they do not any add any value?
  3. What processes are out of our control, but we can highlight them as operational barriers to our leadership team who can request change on our behalf?

To wrap up

Embracing simplicity in every aspect of how a business is run is transformational.

Through our Team Speed Check results, we find operating with simplicity is a tough challenge for most of our clients. And yet when you have:

  1. A simple TEAM plan that your team has built together
  2. Simple and consistent communications
  3. And Simplicity as a habit – to cut through the noise

 -> day-to-day speed of execution goes through the roof!

Learn more about the Team Speed Check.

If you have any questions, as always, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

A bit about us

We help tech organisations execute at speed through the power of TeamX™. As a change management organisation, we help leaders build more engaged, strong, and united teams through a breakthrough business methodology. This is built by rallying behind a common purpose and supported by simplicity in execution – all underpinned by Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviors® model.

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