“Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n’y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
(“Perfection is achieved not when you cannot add anything anymore but when you can not remove anything anymore”)
Everywhere we see bad and complex solutions – with tremendous consequences in business, politics and society. Often we face complexity. It seems obvious: make it simple.
We can make it simple in so many ways. But many people say it is too difficult. That is true. However, we can make it if we start step by step, every daily a little bit. Then it is possible to make it simple. Then we will have small successes. And success is the best motivation to continue.
Simplicity does not need endless analysis, long studies and hard to understand scientific expressions. Arthur Schopenhauer said: “It is a clear sign of mediocrity if many words are made only to express simple thoughts.” Simple thoughts can be expressed by using a simple language. The essential can be said by using only a few words.
Most of the old virtues and wisdoms as well as many small recipes for success are simple. When Albert Einstein was aked how he works, how he find his great thoughts, he answered: “I grope my way forward.” Unfortunately, very often simple thoughts, solutions and recipes are not considered to be valuable. Many people believe only when it is difficult and complicated it deserves to be considered excellent and of high value.
All of us want to be successful. Simplicity is a method to reach success surely. It is a safe method to achieve the following: processes, organizations, intentions and rules should first of all work properly and in the second place they should be efficient.
However, practicing the Simple Management needs old virtues: courage and trust, intuition and common sense as well as concentration and abandonment. The reward will be better results, higher productivity, more speed and safety – and all of this will be achieved with placidity.
Over-Complexity appears by centralization, big researching, large assortments, massive offerings of components, variations and alternatives and also high cost. Avoiding complexity is possible almost everywhere and more than necessary in order to manage systems we created. Reduction and eventually managing of complexity is a major task of today´s management in terms of our everyday lives, in companies, in politics, in any social institution as well as in our private lives.
Not many have become famous for the simple way of management. Anyhow, they belong to the most successful ones in today´s business: ALDI is clearly the role model for simplictiy, but also General Electric, Southwest Airlines, and IKEA have developed their methods of managing complexity. In some respect they have changed the rules of their industries.
In the book “Bare Essentials. The ALDI Way to Retail Success” there is one important comparison which says that ALDI is more similar to Toyota than to its german competitor Tengelmann. The reason for this statement is that corporate cultures of ALDI and Toyota are similar as well as the way people work and come to solutions and decisions. Corporate cultures define a company much more than the dynamics of a specific industry they are in by definition. Both, ALDI and Toyota, understand so well the principles of Simple Management.
Despite the good examples, for many people it remains incredibly difficult to follow the principles of Simple Management. Although interested, people do not believe that the simple way can be really that simple. For decades, ALDI´s competitors in Germany could not understand how simple ALDI was managed. They did not believe that it was really possible to work without staff departments, without all those sophisticated methods, without Controlling departments, without budgets, yearly plans, without market research and large Informationssystems. How is it possible to run a multi-billion dollar business without all those things taken for granted and necessary in well known corporations?
It is the art of less.
It is like the american Designer Milton Glaser put is: “Less isn´t more. Just enough is more.”
“Simplicity is the Way to the Essentials”