Keep it SIMple!

keep-it-simpleI love working in higher education. I am surrounded by very smart people who are committed to making a difference in the lives of students and solving the complex problems our students and our colleges and universities face. Yet the intelligence and complex problem-solving ability of leaders may actually get in the way of driving high performance in their people!

Marc Effron, author of One Page Talent Management and president of the Talent Strategy Group, puts it this way:

  • Start with science – use what we know works
  • Eliminate complexity – include just what is essential
  • Add real value – make it usable

Science has shown that setting goals drives performance but we often set too many or make them too complicated and our people don’t know where to start or what to focus on. Effron recommends setting only three clear goals for your team members and making sure they are relevant or important to the organization and the individual. He also suggests the acronym of SIMple goals instead of SMART goals. A SIMple goal is:

  • Specific
  • Important
  • Measurable

In my work with leaders I have come to appreciate the importance of Law of Parsimony or Occam’s Razor, which I translate as starting with the simplest solution. Encouraging leaders to step back, ignore their tendencies to focus on complex solutions and instead start with simple solutions, has been powerful. Using Effron’s SIMple goals can provide a laser focus which cuts through the distractions your people face at work and will help drive high performance, focused on the important value higher education provides.

Todd Thorsgaard



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