I went to an interview about 15 years ago with the CEO of a Mobile Wireless company about the role of VP of Operations. They had been in business for a couple of years and were struggling to keep the lights on. They had cool marketing programs. They appeared to have a great culture…
The CEO interviewing me asked a bunch of questions about the current business I was running and what had made it successful.
I replied that we had a simple strategy. He asked me to explain. So I told him that the strategy we were executing was so incredibly simple, it was designed after a 6 year-old’s front yard lemonade stand. The CEO said: “What?!” I told him that we took a line from Albert Einstein’s quote that, “if you can’t explain it to a 6-year old, then you don’t understand it yourself.”
The interview was over. I didn’t get the job. The organization went out of business 6 months later.
I stand by the wise philosophy of Albert Einstein because… Simple is good. Simple is understood by team members. Simple gets executed. Simple keeps costs down. This all in turn yields faster and more consistent delivery, and therefore happier customers.
I have sat in my share of Board Rooms in different parts of the world. Yet it ceases to amaze me, how much futile time is wasted in endless (and often mindless), convoluted debate about strategy. I don’t understand why it is so convoluted and confusing? Is it executives working extra hard to prove how smart they are to each other? Either way the results equal a big mess, with too many goals, and no alignment with functions.
Then as they attempt to roll the plan out to the team, then end up needing a cheat sheet just to remember everything during their communications. No wonder, while they sit back and wait for something to happen… they see no results. It’s because the team is waiting too, wondering what they are supposed to do.
This kind of crazy confusion is best left to TV sitcoms, such as “The Office” and Seinfeld.
Try this instead. Build your plan. Keep it limited to 3 (or less) key initiatives. Then rent yourself a 6 year old and explain it to them. If they get it then you are good to go!