Brilliant Manoeuvre
Keep things simple. Complication only leads to confusion and friction.

Most of you know this as the KISS principle. One of the earliest things I learned as a junior officer in the Army was to make tactical plans and orders as simple and as clear as possible. If I needed more than a sentence or two to explain a manoeuvre, it was already too complicated. The US Army had an ad campaign about 10 or 15 years ago with the slogan ‘An army of one.’ When I was on exchange with the US Army, I asked my American colleagues what they thought it meant; they were just as much at a loss as I was. Phillips Electronics reportedly did an analysis a few years back of returned consumer electronics devices and found that fully half of them were still perfectly functional. It turned out that they were simply too complex to operate, with too many controls and arcane instructions. If you have to explain your message, your intent, or your plans, then they are probably too complicated. They should be clear and evident from the ‘get go.’

Whenever you’re creating a message, giving direction, or developing objectives and plans, aim to formulate them at a high school level. This isn’t meant as an insult to the receiver, but rather as recognition that intentions and concepts must be simple and clear. People can’t read your mind, so you have to make things easy to ‘get.’

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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