#Nextchat: The Power of Doing Less, Better


Complexity is in the eye of the beholder. To me, astrophysics is a complex discipline; to Stephen Hawking it is not. People engaged in complex situations fall into two categories: those who accept complexity as a fact of life and work with it, and those who fight it every inch of the way. I’m in that later camp.

In today’s business, complexity is prolific. There are hundreds of reasons why ambiguity and complication have reared their ugly heads to complicate your professional life—some of the reasons are externally-driven, but most are self-created—maybe not by you, but by people above and/or before you.

So what are you going to do about it? The ‘way’ to cut through the clutter is to simplify. I know; this is easier said than done. How do you simplify when the demands of customers, colleagues, and shareholders continue to escalate. I’m suggesting that you ‘do less, better.’ This strategy requires sacrifice. Again, easier said than done. Dumping pet projects, reducing your customer list, or turning down new sales opportunities can be incredibly difficult to do. It can feel impossible to ‘think smaller’ when everyone around you is firmly entrenched in the 'do more' strategic paradigm.

To enact the strategy, you have to embrace the notion that 20 percent of your effort delivers 80 percent of the rewards. You focus on that 20 percent to generate a high ROE (return on effort). Doing less, better can work throughout an organization. It starts with the corporate strategy, and includes marketing strategy, and the all-important human resource strategy.

Unlike PepsiCo, Coca-Cola’s corporate strategy is to resist diversification and focus on non-alcoholic beverages. That singularity continues to deliver outstanding shareholder value. In marketing, great branding steers clear of multi-benefits; one clear, compelling benefit will find a place in busy minds. For effective workplace culture, Google promotes and supports openness in which everyone is encouraged to share ideas and opinions. In a nutshell, that’s the focus of Google’s HR strategy.

Doing less, better doesn’t mean doing less work. Those who embrace focus, work harder because they are passionate and emotionally-connected to the vision.

Bulldozing the walls of complexity never comes without sacrifice. The earlier and the bigger the sacrifice, the easier it gets afterward. Sacrifice must remain a part of the organization’s DNA to sustain competitive advantage.

How are you reducing complexity in your organizaitons? 

Please join SHRM @WeKnowNext at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 14 for #Nextchat with special guest John Bell @JohnRichardBell.  We'll chat about the power of doing less, better. 


Q1.  Where is the complexity in your organization or in your department?

Q2.  Is anyone trying to rectify the complexity issues in your organization?  If so, how?  If not, why not?

Q3.  What are the positives of "doing less, better" in your organization?

Q4.  What are the negatives associated with "doing less, better" from an HR perspective?

Q5.  Do you see simplification as a company issue, department issue, or your issue?

Q6.  What type of company benefits most from focus? Big, medium or small companies - and why?

Q7.  What is holding you back as an HR professional from doing less, better? 

Q8.  How will focus and a high ROE (return on effort) improve job satisfaction?




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