Simple and certain problems have largely been solved. The greatest challenges of the future would be problems of complexity. Complexity surrounds us. For most of us, complexity is a problem we struggle to manage in our own lives every day. Many people accept complexity as unavoidable.
But complexity isn’t destiny. There’s a better way. By developing a few simple yet effective rules, people can best even the most complex problems.
Simple rules are a hands-on tool to achieve our most pressing personal and professional objectives, from overcoming insomnia to becoming a better manager or a smarter investor. By limiting the number of guidelines, simple rules help maintain a strict focus on what matters most while remaining easy to remember and use.
Simple rules are shortcut strategies that save time and effort by focusing our attention and simplifying the way we process information. The rules aren’t universal —they’re tailored to the particular situation and the person using them. We all use simple rules every day, whether we’re aware of them or not. Simple rules allow us to act without having to stop and rethink every decision.
When Mary Barra was head of human resources at GM, she was faced with a 10-page manual that stated exactly how GM employees were supposed to dress. She replaced the whole thing with two words: “Dress appropriately”. Netflix provides another classic example, having boiled down a complex policy governing business expenses to “spend the company’s money as if it were your own.”
A rule is a guideline for doing something. It’s specific to you, and it’s specific to a particular activity. Simple rules work partly because they’re easy to communicate.
Summing-up: People often attempt to address complex problems with complex solutions, but meeting complexity with complexity can create more confusion than it resolves. A good simple rule is specific to you. It isn’t about playing outside the box. It’s about creating your own box, and that box is yours. The rules don’t have to be perfect. They have to be yours.