Every time we get handed a problem to solve we can approach it in one of two ways – we can either choose to complicate it or to simplify it.

‘Complicators’ instinctively reject straightforward, sensible ideas and instead look for more complicated, difficult solutions in most situations. Powerpoint is their BFF and they default to writing 40 page reports, replete with endless graphs and tables, when a page or two or a phone call will suffice. They stew over their work for days or weeks invariably missing deadlines and chewing through precious organisational resources.

They always seem to lurch from one ‘urgent priority’ to the next, working long hours regularly as they try to keep up. Even worse they create progress bottlenecks while their team waits for them to ‘become available’ and the overall pace of activity slows as a result.

Either out of a fear of failure or a need to demonstrate intelligence they repeat this doomed approach for years on end until they either burn out or get kicked out. Along the way they alienate and exhaust their team who give up trying to keep up. Worst still the complicator is oblivious to all of this and considers their own behaviour/approach normal and rational.

‘Simplifiers’ on the other hand are adept at getting to the heart of an issue quickly without fuss or fanfare. Even for complex tasks they understand how to synthesise data into easy to understand insights that solve problems expediently. They write short reports and communicate complicated ideas effectively and well with their team to ensure that everyone’s knowledge increases as a result of their work.

They don’t complain about being busy, don’t waste time on things that are trivial or unnecessary and importantly they ensure that they never bottleneck progress. As a result they always appear more relaxed and in control than the time poor complicators.

I know which group I’d rather work with (and be part of). What about you?