KISS – Keep It Simple

By Marc Bernier – Unison Workplace Strategies

We humans are great at making things complicated, but are we really making them better?

We can apply the topic of over-complicating things to many things, solutions, processes, ideas, messages, and many more. To keep things simple, let’s put it in the context of managing your priorities.

Here we have 2 PICK charts, they are the same tool, used to help choose what priority to do first by identifying the level of urgency or the tasks at hand and the level of importance it has. But we added an extra layer of complexity to one of them.

2 X 2 PICK chart – 2 options: High vs Low

3 X 3 PICK chart – 3 options: High, Medium & Low

What does this extra complexity really give us?

In my opinion, nothing at all.

Now that we have three levels (or more) of choices, we need to explain them. Pretty much everyone understands the difference between urgent and not urgent, but what is the difference between medium and high urgency? Even worse, if we score them on a scale of 1 to 10, what is the difference between a level 5 urgency and a level 6 urgency? Is the difference the same for everybody who will use this tool? Probably not.

Also, with the middle option, we now have a “safe” place to put all the tasks we are not sure about. The lack of middle ground forces us to choose, it challenges us to really think: is it important? We’ve seen multiple charts like this end with the majority of tasks in the medium urgency and medium importance area, where we still don’t know what to choose and nothing is gained from the activity.

Now what do I do?

The more complicated a new solution/tool/change is, the more time is required to explain, implement, learn, adapt to, and get results.

So how can you keep things simple?

There are many ways, here’s one:

When selecting priorities, ask yourself… Is this a must have, or a nice to have? If it’s absolutely essential for you to have a “medium urgency” level, then go for it. If you add it “just in case” then you probably don’t need it and should use your time to do something more important instead.