Steps Two and Three: Identify and Remove Barriers

Next Tuesday offers our yearly opportunity for a collective fresh start. A new beginning. A clean slate. I trust you may have a few resolutions already in mind. But even if you know where you want to go, getting starting can be hard. Which is why we recommend a very simple first step: just start. But where to from there?

Last September’s Harvard Business Review offers clear-headed, straightforward advice. The issue was organized around the concept of “The (Surprisingly) Simple Rules Of Strategy.” Two different articles shared an important theme. Here are excerpts from the executive summaries of each:

Bringing Science To The Art of Strategy
…The authors outline a strategy-making process that combines rigor and creativity. A team begins by formulating options, or possibilities, and asks what must be true for each to succeed. Once it has listed all the conditions, it assesses their likelihood and thereby identifies the barriers to each choice. The team then tests the key barrier conditions to see which hold true. From here, choosing a strategy is simple: The group need only review the test results and choose the possibility with the fewest serious barriers…

Simple Rules For A Complex World
…This article describes the authors’ subsequent research into why simple rules work and how firms develop them. Typically, after setting its priorities, a company will identify a bottleneck preventing it from making progress toward them and then create rules for managing that bottleneck…

If you want to reach your goal, identify the issues that may keep you from success. Then manage against them. New year? Clear paths. It’s a (surprisingly) simple – and often overlooked – approach that can greatly improve your chances of turning your resolutions into your case studies.

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Keep It Simpler, Smarty

Buzzwords are quickly becoming the chosen language for the culture of commerce. When Dan Pallotta posted “I Don’t Understand What Anyone Is Saying Anymore,” 937 people – at the time of this writing – took the time to comment. And 8,252 took the time to vote on the All-Time Worst Business Buzzword poll. We could all relate.

But be honest – Have you ever turned to a thesaurus to choose words that are more complex to give the impression that the content is more valid or intelligent? Nearly two-thirds of Stanford undergraduate students answered – admitted? – “yes.”

Using new or interesting, formal or complex language can make you feel smarter. But does it make you seem smarter to others? A study in Applied Cognitive Psychology suggests no.

Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly” makes the case the simpler writing is better writing. Simpler writing is judged as more true. It’s judged as more confident. It’s even liked more.

The lesson is simple. Want your writing to be liked more? Don’t just mean what you say. Just say what you mean.

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Start Simple

A New Year’s Resolution: Start Simple.

It’s a new year. A new beginning. A fresh start.

Start simple.

Simple demands a premium price.

Simple builds loyalty.

Simple creates clarity.

Simple encourages authority.

Simple facilitates buy-in.

Simple cuts through clutter.

Simple sparks action.

And, yes, simple can move mountains.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.