The very first client I worked with when I started @TheChrysalisCrew was a leading Housing Association in London. They were struggling with gaining buy-in with their People Strategy and asked me if I could help. At first glance the strategy was long, complicated and not easy to see how it would be delivered or what the outcomes would be. I worked with them, I spoke to different people from across the business and the replacement strategy was approved first time.
The feedback was "simple, effective and actionable", music to my ears. The outcomes of which were people who were much more engaged and recognised for their efforts. They went on to win several awards and accreditations the year after and we worked with them on a few more projects.
A few years ago we worked with an NHS Trust on simplifying and redefining their behaviours. What was seven pages of words in tables stuck on walls in training rooms became a diagram of three circles with more detail if you needed it in a 'behaviour dictionary.
The new framework became the thread across all things people and when I received feedback from the Head of OD to say that it had been mentioned as a positive in their CQC inspection and latest staff survey, I was over the moon. In simplifying it had been easier to live and breathe, and it worked.
In my Burn The Handbook talk and in our workshop of the same name, I talk a lot about simplicity. I give examples of our 'Rebel Code' @TheChrysalisCrew, our 1.5 page staff handbook, it's simple, says all it needs to and is easy to relate to. Our business strategy just five pillars.
I like simplicity and I know I'm not alone in this, yet over recent weeks I've been shocked to see so many complicated 'role descriptions' on LinkedIn. So many complicated blogs, manifesto, mission statements and business plans, where it seems a lot of words have been thrown up in the air and then put into a sentence in somewhat baffling jargon. If you have to explain what you are trying to get across in your messaging, then it's not simple.
I was reminded then of some of the conversations I'd had previously with some of the big four consultancies when they were engaged with my employers or my clients, and how they go about baffling people. The acronyms, the jargon, the perfectly complicated PowerPoint decks filled with timelines, workstreams and numbers, when, if you look behind it all, or at least try, it's all very simple.
Yet what these consultancies do well, is baffle clients and potential clients with complicated wording and frameworks, and their audience, not wanting to seem stupid, nod along believing this is exactly what they need because if it really were simple they would already be doing it.
Apple created simplicity with their products just plug and play. No need for instruction manuals on how to use it like I remember my parents having to go through with our first microwave oven. I remember using my first ever iPod (in fact I still have it), it told me very simply what to do, and when I followed the screen it did what it said it would do.
Tech has simplified the way we work, communicate and live, yet much of the way we communicate with each other has become more complicated.
I'm asked by new authors how I make writing look so easy, my advice is always the same and always simple, write it as you would speak it. And I get messages back to say 'wow, it worked'. We shouldn't assume that by putting our thoughts on paper it should be any more complicated than how we would say it to someone if they were in front of us.
I love simple, and I'll keep it that way, because it works for me and our clients.
If what you're putting out to your people or your audience needs deciphering or explaining, then rethink it.
The last thing we need in the world right now is more complication.
Kelly is Founder of The Chrysalis Crew and Global Empowerment Coach for HR Professionals. She leads the crew with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can change the world of work.
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