The saying is older than me and I have no clue where it comes from, but I’m certain we’ve all heard it. Less is more! The idea is simple. Do less in a more intentional way and you’ll end up being more effective in the long run! So the question we need to address as individuals and organizations is What are we doing that we don’t need to be doing anymore?
This is a super hard question for some people! You see, some people are collectors. They operate under the principle that we’ve used it once and it worked well, therefore we need to keep it. They have emotional attachment to the way things used to be. They can’t throw things away for fear they might need them again. The organizations keep programs because of nostalgic ties. They don’t want to hurt anyone by dropping something that’s ineffective or useless.
The other end of the spectrum are those who can’t keep anything and will throw anything out if it’s not touched in days! These people have no attachment to anything! Everything is disposable to them. And at times it comes across that people are disposable as well.
There certainly is a middle ground here. It’s a little bit of both. It’s the idea of getting rid of what’s not in your wheelhouse and focusing more of your efforts intentionally on those things that are your skillset. Here are a few questions that I use to determine whether it stays or goes in an organization. Some also work individually but the intent is organizationally.
- What are we most known for?
- If we were to disappear what would be missing from the community?
- What do we not do with excellence?
- What things suck our energy and drain our organization?
- If we were to stop one thing today, what would no-one miss?
- What ignites a fire and excites us as a whole?
- What are our key resources and in what area of our organization are they located?
There are many more questions that we could ask ourselves but these are just a few to get us started. The point of these questions is to get us thinking about the essentials and the non-essentials within our organization. All too often we get trapped in the cycle of always doing the same things because we’ve always done them. Loosing the chains of something mediocre to accomplish something magnificent is a freeing experience. It’s like purging your closet to find the new shirt you had hanging there the whole time but couldn’t find!
Doing less doesn’t mean getting less done. It just means taking the scattered efforts of distracted work and focusing them to do something powerful. Take some time to be honest with yourself and yoru organization as you evaluate what stays and what goes. The more honest you are the more likely you will be to set yourself up for success in the days, weeks, months and even years ahead!
Good luck! And remember sometimes less really is more!