Simple Isn’t Simple

Aug 05, 2015

In a world of ever-growing complexity, many leaders look for ways to simplify strategy as an approach for increasing adoption by an organization’s culture.

Mark these words of warning: oversimplification could achieve the opposite effect. But why?

Oversimplification makes strategy too vague.

The omission of details – the who, when, where, and why – in strategy will make it too vague to execute. Sure, eliminating the details could make it easier to remember, but it also takes away substance to what makes your strategy strategic. The backbone of strategy is outlining what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how it will be achieved.

Simplicity is hard to achieve.

A blanketed, simple strategy or goals makes it really difficult to identify and tackle the critical few priorities that drive strategic success. If it’s too simple, your plan might not outline what’s critical to the success of your organization. “Being the best” is not the same as “Being the best by [insert critical action]”.

Simplicity isn’t always relevant.

Because a strategy that is oversimplified is vague, it can sometimes feel like it’s reaching for the stars. Consequently, it can leave your team feeling like it is just plain unachievable – killing it in its tracks. Strategy that is specific and actionable will inspire your team to actually buy into it.

Simplification has its time and place. Simplicity plays a huge role in defining your organization’s mission, its vision, and the critical few milestones required to achieve it. But when it comes to clarity in execution, simplicity often erodes an organization’s ability to take ownership and accountability.

Remember, fluff and inconsistency are enemies of a good strategic plan. It’s important to strike the balance between clear, focused strategy and details required to drive execution.

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