The Benefits of Simplicity


Have you ever tried to plan every single detail of a trip before?

I’m not talking about how to get from point A to point B. I mean where you’re going to eat, what you’re going to do every day, what you plan to buy, etc. I mean every detail.

Then, try sharing that 16-page itinerary with your three travel buddies. You immediately are bombarded with questions containing what ifs and “Can we do this instead?” Soon, everyone is confused about what you’re doing and where you’re going. It’s a complete mess.

In “Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink, the authors talk about keeping things simple. They bring up their past combat experience, sharing how complex plans and orders cause confusion and problems. “When plans and orders are too complicated, people may not understand them. And when things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into total disaster,” wrote the authors.

Give your staff the chance to ask clarifying questions to ensure your plans and systems are simple enough to understand. Sure, that 16-page travel itinerary — or maybe that new way to ask for days off — might seem simple to you, but there’s five to 10 other Coaches who also have to understand it.

You need to encourage questions and give your Coaches the opportunity to ask them. When you implement a new plan or system in your Box, set time aside to explain it to your staff. Get everyone in the same room and sit down for a meeting. Explain your plan clearly. And then allow them to ask questions.

The authors made another good point: Just because you feel you explained something well doesn’t mean your team understands what you said, which is reason No. 2 you have to communicate and encourage them to ask questions. Ultimately, it comes back to you and owning your plan, your explanation and your communication.

“As a leader, it doesn’t matter how well you feel you have presented the information or communicated an order, plan, tactic or strategy. If your team doesn’t get it, you have not kept things simple and you have failed,” wrote the authors.

Look at your business and your systems. What can be simplified? Sit down with your staff and encourage them to share their concerns. What questions do they have when it comes to your plans and how you run your Box?

Simplifying just might be the answer to success.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at