• Strategy and Getting Things Done is Simple From the Eyes of a 6-year-old

    Ever watch a couple of six-year-old children at play? I mean really at play… and not on some kind of technology device. It’s wonderful to see, because it’s just so easy for them!

    Did you ever stop to think that the world of business actually mirrors children’s “way of play”? We adults just end up complicating the heck out of things, and it quickly goes from being fun and easy to really hard, and in some cases even impossible. Let me explain…


    1. First, children start their play with ‘make believe” (determining the what).
    2. Then, they get on their way to work at play.
    3. The Results: there are no power struggles, it’s lots of fun, things are super simple, the goals are reached.


    1. First, adult business people start their business with a vision (determining the what).
    2. Then… well… they try to get on their way to work at their vision.
    3. The Results: there are power struggles, it’s not so much fun, there’s lots of complication, the individual and company have not reached their full potential.


    I don’t know why it happens.  Maybe it is the thinking that we have to justify the expensive MBA we have earned.  Maybe it is a lack of confidence that is masked by trying to appear ‘smart’ and making everything complicated. Who really knows. The point is that somehow, from childhood to adulthood, from the way we plan to the way we talk, things always tend to complicate themselves – resulting in individuals not being able to reach their full potentials.

    Here are the traits I see most often in organizations that are less than what they could be:

    • Convoluted visions – if they have them at all
    • No understanding of why
    • Multiple complex strategic initiatives – often so many, the CEO has to use a cheat-sheet to talk about the strategies
    • Confusing communication – generally consists of only posting the plan on the boardroom wall, and that’s it!


    Think of this way…  You would not go to your six-year-old and say: “the conditions of your living quarters do not meet the specifications laid out in your annual objectives. If there is not immediate corrective action, your variable incentive plan could be impacted.”

    You would simply say something like: “go clean up your room or you will not get an allowance this week!”

    Which six-year-old do you think will fully, clearly understand what they have to do, and be more likely to carry it out…

    Albert Einstein said it best with his quote: “If you cannot explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

    Keep it simple.  Simple can be understood.  Simple can be followed and executed upon.  There is no 10-point plan – there is a 3-point plan.  Use plain language and use it often.  Make sure everyone has the same goal.  Make sure everyone knows the score.

    Try this next time you have to build a plan and roll it out to your team.  Take your plan and explain it to a six-year-old child (if you do not have one readily available, rent one from one of your relatives, or neighbors).  If you find that you are not able to clearly and simply explain this plan to the child, it is too complicated and you probably really do not understand it yourself.

    Robert Murray is a Business Strategy Consultant, partner at Incrementa Consulting Inc., #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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