The editorial section of the The Wall Street Journal includes a daily cartoon titled “Pepper… and Salt” poking fun at and making a small point about daily life. The June 18, 2018 cartoon depicts a man sitting in the front seat of a new vehicle, staring ahead with a rather bewildered look on his face. The salesman, standing outside the vehicle leans in and says, “And this dashboard has all the electronic distractions grouped together into one convenient confusion cluster.”

After I finished laughing, I realized I thought it was funny because not only does it describe me, it describes many of the teams and leaders I work with in my business. Everyone is inundated with information and distracted by the latest tool or app to manage yet another part of our business lives. Still, like the cartoon cleverly shows, we often end up more confused than before.

Business growth leads to complexity. It’s a fact of life. It’s a question of when, not if, it will happen to you personally or organizationally. The key to managing the complexity is to master the ability to simplify.

Embrace the mantra “Less is More.” Strip everything down to the bare essentials. Focus on the 20% of things that deliver 80% of the value. Leave the rest behind.

Four Tips for Simplifying the Complexities of Business Growth

  1. Use a Scorecard: Set monthly goals. Identify and track the progress of the 5-15 most important activities that will keep you on target every week towards that monthly goal. Obsess over those numbers and let go of the rest. 
  2. Delegate and Elevate:  You cannot grow unless you create extensions of yourself. Doing so allows you to create the time to focus on what drives value in your role. Delegate the things that add little-to-no value and elevate yourself to working within what Dan Sullivan calls your “Unique Ability.” 
  3. Compartmentalize Your World: When everything is a priority, nothing is. Step back and put everything in its proper place.
    • Separate yearly goals from quarterly priorities.  Separate short-term issues from long-terms ones.
    • Once identified, focus efforts on the 90-day quarterly priorities, and tackle your short-term issues in priority order every week.
    • Let go of the rest until the end of the quarter.
  4. Simplify Core Processes: Every business has 6-10 core processes at the heart of what they do. Identify them, strip them down into their essential components, and document the 20% of steps that describe the “what” that drives 80% of the value. Ensure everyone follows those processes.