Top of Mind: Complexity Kills Creativity

October 28, 2015 02:48 AM

Today’s market environment requires nimble decision-making and resourceful problem-solving. As the CEO of your farm or ranch, you can’t afford to be bogged down in needless tasks that prevent you from capturing opportunities to strengthen and grow your business. 

Not only that, but you need time to be creative and think about how your operation can and should evolve.

“The future is not about who you are; the future is about who you are becoming,” says Lisa Bodell, CEO of futurethink, a firm that trains businesses in how to become innovators. “True leaders know who they are and are the ones focused on who they are becoming.”

One of the main reasons people lose blue-sky thinking time is because everyday tasks are too complicated. Instead of following a direct path from Point A to Point B, we often veer off-track, are distracted or add in multiple checkpoints.

Complexity and complexity reduction are hot terms in the business world. Companies are going so far as to add high-level roles such as chief simplicity officers—with the hope of limiting redundancies, increasing efficiency and motivating employees. 

Earlier this year at the Alltech REBELation conference, I listened to Bodell share how businesses can create more space for change and innovation. “Most people go about change in all the wrong ways,” she says. “Instead of making things easier, we make them complex.”

Add And Subtract. As you develop your strategic and business plans for 2016, enact one of Bodell’s tips: Kill a stupid rule.

“We always start the year with what more we are going to do,” she says. “But we never figure out what’s wrong and what we need to get rid of first. You have to get rid of things so you can make the space for what matters.”

Ask your team: What would you love to stop doing? What are your biggest time wasters? What tasks have little ROI? Give them 15 minutes to name two. 

The list you’ll receive, Bodell says, will likely be similar across your team, and the tasks or jobs probably won’t be needed. Many times, especially when new team members are added, “the way we do things” becomes the norm and we don’t challenge the process or practice.

This process will not only help your bottom line, it will show team members you care about how they spend their time. Give them the power to cross off a few dreaded to-dos from their lists. You don’t want an overwhelming to-do list to be an excuse to do nothing at all. Create a culture of change, just don’t make it a 12-step process. 

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