Opinion

The concept That Dictates Every Business Interaction I Have

Written by Michael Contento

One single concept guides most every decision I make. The concept helped me become a successful employee. It motivated me as a manager. And it’s been critical to my success as an entrepreneur, as I built my businesses.

The concept comes down to two words: Deliver simplicity.

I don’t care how senior you are. From the lowest employee to the highest-ranking CEO, your mandate involves delivering simplicity for somebody. The concept sounds simple, but to convey it accurately I’ll describe three short case studies to display it in action.

The Assistant

There’s an old saying about executive assistants. The boss tells a bad EA what to do. A good EA tells the boss what to do. If you are senior enough to have an assistant, then your paycheque is costing your company a lot of money. It’s the job of the assistant to help your company wring more value from you. So you should delegate to the good EA the low-stakes decisions that would otherwise prevent you from making the requisite number of major decisions—the ones that involve the really high-dollar amounts. 

Employees of all sorts can learn from the relationship between an EA and a boss by replicating that dynamic. As an employee, your job probably amounts to making the life of your boss simpler in some way. Before you present a problem to your boss, ask yourself the following question: Can I make a decision here that will make things simpler for my boss in a way designed to bring money or value to the firm? If the answer is yes, then I’d suggest solving the problem yourself.

The Manager

One of the most significant jobs of the good manager is setting up work processes so that it’s easy for employees to succeed. You, as the manager, are delivering simplicity to your employees. The best-run companies do this in all sorts of ways. Consider the tech sector, where the lunchrooms are famous for having free, high-end food, to the extent that some Google locations provide their employees with some of the healthiest and most delicious cuisine on the planet. The free food is a classic method of delivering simplicity to employees. By providing that great food, Google is making it easier for their employees to work hard. The best managers are obsessed with delivering simplicity to the people on their payrolls. 

The CEO

The CEO must ensure her corporation delivers simplicity to customers. To make their lives easier, in some way. For example, I applaud Starbuck’s CEO Kevin Johnson for deploying the Starbuck’s app. With a few taps of my finger on my phone, I can order my Tall Complex Americano, pay for it, and specify the time I’ll be along to pick it up at the Kingsway location, without ever having to stand in line. Many other companies, such as Tim Hortons and McDonald’s, have deployed similar apps that deliver simplicity to their customers. Of course they are—because once one fast-food provider did that, they all had to.

Whether you’re an executive assistant, a manager, or a CEO, you can use “deliver simplicity” as a thinking framework. The people who get ahead in life are delivering simplicity to… someone. Whether you’re removing difficulty from the life of your boss or delivering simplicity to your customers, try using the concept as a way to help you reconceive problems and develop new, simpler solutions.

Michael Contento is the CEO of My Blue Umbrella, Canada’s leading IT business-transformation company, and an investor in numerous other businesses. Connect with him on LinkedIn.