You’ve heard it before: While looking at a painting at the art museum the person next to you mutters, “What’s the big deal? I could have done that.” Or, you’re sitting in the audience and as the musicians walk off the stage, the guy next to you says, “Everyone can play the G, C and D chords. We should start a band.”

But of course, they didn’t. And likely can’t. (At least not yet.) Because simplicity isn’t easy. It’s a function of mastery.

It’s in vogue for organization’s to add ‘simplicity’ to their list of virtuous ideals. This well-intentioned action backfires, however, when the employee experiences no respite from the suffocating complexities of their daily grind.

That’s because the simple-looking painting at the museum took a life-time of brush strokes to create. And the musicians aren’t just playing chords at the same time. They’re creating a certain sound together that took years to find.

What appears effortless now first requires almost-quit struggles and the relentless exertion of energy. Simplicity isn’t an input behavior or mindset; it’s an outcome, a level of sophisticated excellence.

Rather than asking, “How do we make our work simpler?” the team mired in complications is better served by answering, “Where must we show greater mastery in our work?”

Is your team good enough to do things simply?




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