Death by PowerPoint
In big business, corporations get so big that they start existing as ends unto themselves. You know purpose has strayed when organizations have to struggle to stay relevant. Lots of positions are created to achieve this and that, and people create busy work, getting confused in the grandiose scheme. The more complicated the PowerPoint, the more worthy it must be.
The other day, my younger and very smart colleague was putting together a PowerPoint for a project’s guidelines, and she just couldn’t get her head around how to structure it. She’s used to seeing complicated PowerPoints with graphs and more graphs.
We went through it together, and what was initially several slides turned into one slide with a 5-item bullet list of guidelines. I also suggested she cut her proposed email communication in half, reminding her that the more simple she can make it, the more useful (and appreciated) it will be.
Even in corporate business, less is more.
Death by remote control
After biking home that day, I wanted to clean my house. I need to dance through cleaning, so I turned on the stereo, but the sound was coming from the TV and not the speakers. So I tried another remote, but no luck. Then I tried the third (and the fourth, and the FIFTH). Then I went bonkers, pushing random buttons and flinging one of them across the room.
Technology was invented to simplify life, but again, it was doing just the opposite for me. A remote for this, a remote for that…a remote for a remote. I refuse to understand why the man in this house accrued so many, but regardless, I will need to be retrained.
Death by long-winded email
When I write business emails, I write them in as few words as possible. I’m not saying I’m not guilty of an occasional long-winded email, but I’m usually punished for it. My email ‘book’ is reciprocated with reply books. More work, more frustration.
After cleaning my house that night, I was chatting with a friend about one such email she’d sent earlier that day. It covered a process that had gone totally wrong from her viewpoint, and her annoyance was obvious. Of course, as is universal law when sending long-ass emails of this nature, she’d completely misunderstood the process. She was then forced to send an email asking her colleagues to kindly disregard the first email.
I reminded her of my trick: if I’m feeling annoyed, or if I need to explain something that takes more than a few sentences, I don’t use email. I go to their desk and have a real conversation, which accomplishes a lot more in less time. And every time I forget my rule and do send a book, it bites me in the ass. Without fail.
Permaculture principle 2: keeping things simple as a way of catching and storing energy
I’m working on my permaculture diploma, which requires that I initiate projects like starting a garden. I have a very tiny front garden, and I was concerned it was too small to be considered project-worthy.
My mentor reminded me that working within smaller spaces can be more valuable than larger spaces, as we can more easily manage resources and change within a small city garden, as opposed to a 10-acre plot of land.
And I’ve happily learned that he’s right. I’ve planted my flowers and vegetables, but I’ve also allowed weeds to grow and let nature just do it’s thing for the purpose of educational observation. And boy am I thankful I have a smaller area to learn from. It feels motivating to be able to get my head around this little space. It feels approachable.
Less is more
Whether it be PowerPoints for business projects, purchasing technology for entertainment purposes, or embarking upon an educational project like a little city garden, KISS.
(keep it simple, stupid)