classic purity

One of the many things I have learned from my wife and soul mate Maria is an appreciation of minimalism; the beauty of simplicity and the freedoms associated with un-cluttering life. Over the years I have become drawn to those things that are ‘classic’, that have a sense of purity derived from their uncomplicatedness.

I started thinking about this again yesterday on the drive home from the beach. My enjoyment of being on the water with my board is beyond the physical and the rational. There is something pure about catching a wave in idea conditions like there were yesterday. There are some other sports that I think are similarly uncomplicated. Getting a little ball white in a hole … golf; team up and don’t let the ball hit the ground … volleyball. Of course there are multiple layers of complexity and difficultly in the execution, but the idea is simple.

It extends beyond sport. Don’t you love the idea of fresh pasta with a classic sauce, garlic, crushed tomatoes and basil? There is something ‘right’ about blue jeans, a white T-shirt and a pair of Blundstones. Who hasn’t felt the emotion of a live acoustic set with only a guitar and vocals. And the list goes on.

There are a few things that I think help cultivate attractive simplicity.

  1. Design
  2. Layers of complexity behind the face value
  3. Unpretentiousness

How do these ideas applied to business? We are more likely to talk about clarity and focus. We know what it is that we have to do and we go about doing it with unrelenting intentionality. Yet behind that single mindedness there are other dimensions:

  • Design – the way we go about it will have a huge impact on the outcome. Do we execute with wisdom, emotional intelligence and holistic acumen, or are we simplistic, careless of others and negligent of the unintended consequences of our activity.
  • Clearly, there are competencies and knowledge sets, the mastering of which allow clear and precise execution. (Just ask the weekend golfer whose attempts at the simple task of getting the ‘little white ball in the hole’ are accompanied by large doses of frustration peppered by sufficient seasoning of perfection to make them believe nirvana awaits them at the next tee.) The same in business. The simple tasks associated with our core business have multiple layers behind them. This, however, should not distract us from the clear and simple objectives we set for ourselves.
  • The most attractive businesses, I think, do not pretend to be other than they are … there is a sense of integrity about how they present and who they are.

To change the subject completely, let me pass on a couple of things from my recent reading …

  • The Hay Group recently completed a study to try to determine what the Boards of the world’s most admired companies (WMACs) do differently. When evaluating CEO performance, most company Boards unsurprisingly focus on financials and strategy implementation. 81% of WMAC Boards on the other hand, had a strong emphasise on the CEO’s performance in building human capital in the company. (Reported in the Company Director, the magazine of the AICD.)
  • The annual Eye on Australia Survey confirms that considerable confusion still exists in the community about Green issues. For example, 71% of respondents either ‘agreed’ or ‘don’t know’ with respect to the statement ‘carbon offsets and carbon credits are the same thing’. Read this as an ad for our Business Sustainability Round Table.

Have a good week.