Are you so busy running around doing active things that you never actually accomplish anything? Are you so busy being “busy” that you’re not “productive”? If so, this is the book for you: “Simplify Everything: Go From Do-Do to Done-Done With One Surefire Process” by Steve Epner.
Before I start talking about this book, I’ll just say that it’s a particularly straightforward book and it’s not terribly long. If the title remotely strikes a chord in you, you should just read it because there are many practical bits in it. For those who want more details, I suppose I could give maybe a little more than that. 🙂 Seriously, though, the author made it as easy as one-two-three.
The One Goal
The first chapter starts by identifying the one goal. You don’t even have to figure it out because the book tells you what it is. It’s “to improve the way your business operates.” See, that was just handed right to us right away without a single drop of sweat on the part of the reader. But the book then gets tougher on us. It talks about setting objectives and how to get that across to the rest of the organization. That’s when it does expect us to try to come up with what we hope to accomplish in our own organization. That is followed by helping us to identify “what business are we in” and it does actually urge us to do real work. The party is over, we do have to try to apply some of this. However, the book does lead us through this in a step-by-step manner. The book makes it so that the process isn’t overwhelming.
The book also helps us identify pitfalls such as the old non-metric (and non-Metrick 😉 ) for success of “I’ll know it when I see it.” It identifies these and makes us aware of them in order to avoid them. I particularly like that the author mentioned how sending out a poorly-crafted survey can make us feel good with its happy yet false results.
The Two Questions
There are two questions to ask yourself in order to simplify, but I will leave those for you to read in the book. However, within those two important questions, some of the examples for them are interesting to think about. For example, if you’re a manager getting too much e-mail being copied to you from subordinates, the book does give an idea how to significantly cut that back. Or, if you’re asked to improve a process, find out why you’re doing it before you spend time improving upon it. There are some interesting and pointed solutions in here.
It might seem obvious to some but others might appreciate the chapter helping you figure out how to ask the questions. In addition, for those of you who have employees who are so afraid of negative consequences that won’t give a suggestion, the author even gives steps to take to remedy that, and it’s NOT a suggestion box!
The Three Principles
Of the three principles, the one that particularly grabbed me is the one that says it’s okay to be wrong. It encourages people to be creative and to come up with ideas that aren’t entirely flushed-out. How many of us have worked at places where you’re wrong if you’re not the boss, wrong before you even open your mouth, and wrong if you’re even breathing? I can think of plenty of places I’ve run across that operate this way. In those cases, they probably made it clear they don’t want the employees’ input but they also tend to be places where any input would help what they’re doing.
In the end, Steve Epner reminds us that these ideas can be applied to any type of business, whether for-profit or non-profit. He ends by telling us to “[S]top running in circles and get things done. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.” And then, he gives us useful extras, including tips on how best to hold and run meetings, with ideas that will help cut back on those pesky side conversations.