9 Ways Great Leaders Can Simplify Anything
By Kevin Daum, Contributor
Life sure isn’t simple, especially in business. Technology is supposed to make things easier and in many ways it does. At the same time, however, change comes so fast and goals are so lofty that many people don’t have the skills and knowledge necessary to tackle everyday projects.
Well, the world is not going to stop turning so you can get off. You need to figure out how to simplify complex projects so you can get them done and move on to the next important opportunity. Here are 9 tips you can apply in almost any situation to simplify a task. Master them all and never let complexity block your path to success.
1. Translate it into 12-year-old language.
Language is constantly changing and new generations and experts add new words and phrases weekly. Trying to understand complex theories or technical jargon can be a huge pain — and trying to actually explain it to someone else without completely confusing them can be even more of a challenge. Take a minute or two to think about what the underlying theme or message is and translate the language into something that any adolescent could understand. Use a thesaurus or dictionary if you have to.
2. Break it into small chunks.
As they grow, projects, problems and companies can become so complex that you don’t even know where to start. Sometimes, all you need to do in order to simplify things is to break them down into small parts so that you can look at one facet at a time. Once divided, you can prioritize and create a plan and calendar for efficiently tackling the issue.
3. List the parts you don’t understand.
There may be parts of a problem that are beyond your direct knowledge or skillset. Identify these issues so you can resolve the needs before you get in knee deep. Solve them first, one at a time, and then you’ll be ready to take the entire project easily from beginning to end.
4. Engage an expert.
There is no glory in failing alone. If you don’t understand how something is supposed to work, go get someone who does. You may only need a question answered or a small adjustment made. But an expert can let you focus your efforts where you are strong and speed your process. These days, you can find an expert for nearly everything on LinkedIn.
5. Look at the big picture.
When you are deep in a complicated problem, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae. Take a moment to step back and look at it from a bird’s eye view. The larger perspective may reveal that the small problems are merely symptoms and can be easily solved with a bigger, simpler systemic solution. For example, maybe sales people keep saying the wrong things because there is no scripted sales process in their training.
6. Create a map.
Visuals can be very useful in problem solving and project management. Set a plan and create a visual path for getting to the finish line. The map makes it easier for you and members of the team to track progress and apply appropriate energy. With a little luck, you may find that someone else has solved this problem or mastered some of the process. You can use their experience as a map for your own.
7. Find the right tool.
For all the complexity that new technology brings with it, much of it actually helps as well. Check online to see if there is an app, technique or book that may get you to the finish line easier and faster. Not all are going to work for you so choose carefully. But you can always try a few, combine them, or just create your own tool that makes your project easier to finish.
8. Eat it like an elephant.
When you are staring at a huge complex problem you may be tempted to attack it on many fronts or you may not even know where to start. The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Start with a small step and learn as you go. It will seem slow and nearly insurmountable at first. But before long, you’ll gain understanding and proficiency that will carry you through to the end with increased momentum.
9. Delegate to a team.
You don’t have to do it alone. Sometimes the best way to master a complex problem or project is for you not to complete it at all. Recruit a team and just manage them to the end. Or better yet, outsource to a knowledgeable third party. Nothing is simpler than just writing a check.
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