PMBAProductivity & Effectiveness

The Simplicity Survival Handbook – 2

The Simplicity Survival Handbook - 32 Ways to Do Less an Accomplish More

 Note: Because this is a thick, very detailed book full of “how-tos” and designed not to be read from cover to cover, coming up with a useful summary is long and takes time. I am therefore publishing it in two parts, of which this is the second. The first is here 😉 .

Summary and Book Report, Part Two:

  • 17 : How to Pile With Managers Who Pile It On : MoreMoreMore, Now !

    • Courage : 6
    • Difficulty: 6.5
    • Yield: 9

    Managers who don’t manage priorities or focus your work abdicate the responsibility that they have towards you. But associating with your manage will reduce your workload. Complaining won’t take care of it.

    For this:

    1. Before going to talk to your Boss or your manager: create your job. Figure out exactly what work is superfluous, starting with how many goals are excessive, and where you think your efforts should be more concentrated.

    2. When you meet with your manager, understand the pressures that he or she might be under. A little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down if it is somewhat bitter.

    3. Ask: “Can we determine what the three most important things are that I should focus my priorities on in the next few [days, weeks, months]?

    Continue to shorten the timelines rather than get into a conflict over the long list of things that your manager needs to do. Say: “Boss, thank for you helping me to see that there are only 347 things to do this month. Now, can we discuss what needs to be done by this Friday?… Only 47 thinks! Cool! Now, what are the three things that I should attend to first?”

  • 18 : How to Deal with Teammates Who (Unknowingly) Pile It On

      • Courage : 4
      • Difficulty: 5.5
      • Yield: 9

      Your best friends and teammates don’t want to give you additional things to do. Really! But right after unfocused managers, your biggest source of additional work comes from well intentioned colleagues.

      To avoid this:

    1. Trust your instinct, not your head.

      1. Clarify the upcoming to-do list for the team. Concentrate on the short term – the do-dos for the next few days or next few weeks. Focus on these two things:

      • Clarify how the team’s to-do list is tied to general success. Use rules 5 and 11 for this.
      • Clarify how this to-do list for the team is going to help you pass the project to someone else. Use rules 3 and 5 for this.
    2. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone that you that are in the middle of reporting or deviating from things. You are about to be applauded for helping everyone get focused.
    3. Enjoy! Celebrate! You have just succeeded in taking an important step in your career.

  • 19 : How to Track Your Success : Are You Really Doing Less ?

    • Courage : 4.5
    • Difficulty: 5.5
    • Yield: 10

    How will you know that you are doing less and accomplishing more? That’s an important question! Too many people spend too little time thinking about what success looks like.

    To do this:

    1. Let’s say that you have tried several of the rules in this book. And you are feeling good, really good! Do you know why? We will try to see why in step 2. For now, ask yourself which of the 10 changes listed below you recognize in yourself?
        1. “I feel less overworked, less stressed. More energetic. With better control over day to day activities”
        2. “I am making better choices and assigning better priorities.”
        3. “I am thinking of myself more. I understand better what I should and shouldn’t do.”
        4. “I have taught others how to respect my precious time.”
        5. “I finally feel that I can be sincere in what I say and do. I have stopped playing games.”
        6. “I finally understand what is propaganda, what the scams are, and what is the “flavor of the month”. That has freed me up considerably!”
        7. “I can now make forecasts to my boss as well as my colleagues.”
        8. “The people I manage are telling me that I am more focused and appreciate their work more.”
        9. “I feel like I can say “no” more often and stick to it.”
        10. “I am helping others more than before.”
    2. Ask yourself: “So What ?” Now you must decide what to do with these good feelings. Use them to think deeply about how you define success, and what is most important for you.
    3. Do you need to take one more step to help yourself in this objective? Here are the three main reasons why you should want to do less:
      1. Work is important but it’s not my whole life. I want to focus on everything that life has to offer.
      2. I want to make a difference. The work I do matters.
      3. I want to be the best me possible
  • 20 : How to Customize Training Programs : Getting What You Need

    • Courage : 4.5
    • Difficulty: 5.5
    • Yield: 9

    Most external training programs are designed around the needs of your organization – not necessarily your needs. And even the best thought out training plans can be adapted to better meet your needs.

    To do this:

    1. Ask yourself: “Why should I worry about it?” All training should pass through your own filter. Create your own filter by:
      • Reading the program and the training objectives
      • Questionning your manager or the person who wants you to do the training, and asking them how the training relates to your needs
      • Questionning the trainer
    2. It’s time to decide. Does the training pass your test or not? There are three possible responses:

        1. “Yes, this training is really important for me. Go to step 4.

        2. “No! This will be a complete waste of time.” In this case do everything in your power not to take it.

        3. “I must take it. They are pressuring me.” Go to step 3 before going to step 4.

    3. When it comes to your life, you are the Grand Poobah. No senior executive worth his salt agrees to spend 100% of his time in training. Do what they do: invoke your Poobah rights. Call the instructor. Ask him to send you an executive summary of the training. There is always a “Grand Poobah” version of the training. It’s guaranteed, because that’s the version they use to approve the budget. Never agree to the complete version of the training. People who used this strategy reduced their time in unwanted training between 33 and 75%.
    4. For better (“this training is really important for me”) or worse (“I must take it”), you are about to take the training. Before beginning, write out these three sentences:
        • “What I absolutely must learn in this training is…”
        • “This is how I will evaluate how I feel about the training…”
        • “The only thing that I must be able to do after taking the training is…”

      Then use Know, Feel and Do to be proactive in the training class and ask questions of the instructor, discuss and find out what you need to know.

    5. Recognize that most training evaluations are superficial and only ask rudimentary questions. Ask yourself these three questions which almost never appear:
        1. Did this training “connect the dots” for me?
        2. Did this training push me outside of my comfort zone and make me think?
        3. Will I be able to successfully implement what I have learned within 30 days?

    In the end, remember that proactive learners personalize every training opportunity to better suit their needs, and not just those of their company. And I will add that books are an excellent way to find training that suits you and that you can practice at your own rhythm 😉 .

  • 21 : How to Continuously Improve your Do-Less Skills

    • Courage : 5
    • Difficulty: 7
    • Yield: 9

    You have tried some tricks to do less and they work. Cool! But what are you going to do to constantly improve. Another major milestone in your career will be achieved when you set yourself the assignment of propelling your skills to the next level of doing less.

    To do this:

    1. Seek assignments that will take your skills of scanning, summarizing and clarifying to a new level. This might be projects such as:
      • Summarizing the results of a six month project in a presentation of fifteen minutes.
      • Writing a report for a long and complicated research project.
      • Interviewing customers or employees on prickly or controversial subjects or giving a presentation to the directors.
      • Etc.
    2. Seek assignments that will take your skills of making an argument to a new level. This might be projects such as:
      • Representing the employee or customer voice in a company meeting. Be relentless in your ability to express the point of view of the employee or customer.
      • Ask your team: How would you like to modify tools, processes and information that is sent to you by the company?
      • Etc.
    3. Seek assignments that will take your communication skills to a new level. This might be projects such as:
      • Reworking a senior executive’s presentation to employees, to be sure that the language and examples used are from the employee’s point of view
      • Reworking tools for working online, intranets and others, portals and project management applications from the point of view of the user, so that they can quickly access the information they need
      • Use the CLEAR model (see rule number 2)
    4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 again and again
  • 22 : How to Deal with the Stupidity of Performance Appraisals

    • Courage : 4.5
    • Difficulty: 5.5
    • Yield: 9.5

    In many companies, performance evaluation is like a casino: the house wins the most and more often than you. These evaluations are stupid in themselves, but most of the time they are poorly designed.

    To manage them better:

    1. Understand how and why the game is played. In spite of everything they tell you, the real objectives of the company in a performance evaluation are to maximize control, minimize costs, furnish legal documentation to protect the company if you are ever a bad person, in every case NOT to give you important feedback for yourself. Other objectives of the company include:
      • Identify the approximately 10% of winners who should be promoted to positions of leadership.
      • Identify the approximately 15% of losers who should be let go.
      • Manage and control compensation costs of those who cost the company the most – the remaining 75%.
      • Control the fact that everyone is focused on objectives provided by management.
    2. If you are evaluated, ignore all the bla bla that your manager says to your face (he has just read the script that the company gives out), and concentrate on these three things:

    1. Ask your manager, at least every month, if not every week: “How am I doing?” Don’t expect non-replies such as “Good”, and ask specific questions with respect to current projects. That will let you know before the evaluation how you are thought of and let you change things before its too late.

    2. Ask your manager every month: “Is it always these three things that are the most important?” Actually the main pitfall of these evaluations is that they are static while the work changes.

    Therefore, trust your instinct and your own ethical compass when it comes to working on what really counts. All the rest is just noise.

    1. 23 : How to Get Better Budgets with a Lot Less Effort

      • Courage : 7.5
      • Difficulty: 7.5
      • Yield: 10

      Almost everything that they have told you about how budgets are created is nonsense. Stop beating yourself up to justify/quantify/rationalize/cut or increase your figures, because the dice are loaded (against you).

      To do this:

      1. Do not focus on the money. It’s the last thing you should talk about! Concentrate instead on what gives management a headache and keeps them awake at night. Here are some examples of this type of situation:
        • Losing control of the situation, or being surprised… Communally linked by Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
        • A scandal has just hit a competitor with full force. Could that happen here?
        • How can I get my employees to do more, and keep theirs costs down?
      2. Package your financial needs to correspond perfectly to the very personal worries of management. For example say “This project is in danger unless we add two more people for just six weeks,” or “our management performance practices are leaving the door open to scandal.”
      3. Your first meeting on the subject of budget should not last more than 15 minutes.
      4. To finish your speech: Don’t ask for money! Ask for another meeting. If the second meeting is held you will have a success rate of 80 or 90% to get the budget you are asking for.

      24 : How to Be a Trusted Advisor to Senior Execs

      • Courage : 9
      • Difficulty: 9
      • Yield: 9.5

      You can wait years before developing your skills and acquiring the wisdom of a master. Or… you can take a peek at what goes on behind closed doors.This information comes from 15 vice-presidents with at least 10 years experience in coaching, flattery and responding to the needs of management teams in 250 of the largest American corporations who, together, have created this list of 10 things to know in order to do a little consulting with the Grand Poobahs:

      • The stated problem is never the problem.
      • The facts can set you free. Facts can lead to uncomfortable discussions. Be like the Swiss: detach yourself from the emotions and the politics, and feed management with the facts presented and their impact on the world.
      • Be proactive. Be opportunistic. Be the first to bring ideas and options to the table.
      • Be a “pair of hands.” Help management with daily tasks and priorities, and be in the loop in message traffic from managers in the organization. That will let you enter behind closed doors.
      • Constant and regular work on these priorities keeps you behind the doors.
      • Never start out with the idea that whatever management has just given their agreement to is complete and final. Be sure to verify constantly with them.
      • Take the high road. Always! Especially if there are political problems or misunderstandings in the management team, always tell the truth, present bad news, at whatever cost. Come out of it being able to look at yourself in the mirror.
      • Make sure you know who makes the decision.
      • Management members are astute, intelligent and should not be under estimated. But their directions often need to be clarified.
      • Events command men, men don’t command events…

      25 : How to Mesure Respect in a World of MoreBetterFaster

      • Courage : 6.5
      • Difficulty: 6.5
      • Yield: 9.5

      Regardless of economic context, timeless questions such as respect will always be important. Respect includes the idea of your workflow as well as your responsibilities. Is your company doing everything it can to help you work more intelligently and faster? Or has it integrated controls and inefficiencies into your daily work load?

      To Find Out:

      1. Fill out the six questions on the questionnaire SimpleWork index (you will have to register for free to access the PDF). Do this before you read the following.
      2. Now take a deep breath and answer: What was your first thought when you read the questionnaire? Often these are reactions such as:
        • I am depressed.
        • Wow ! My eyes have been opened. I have never thought of it like that.
        • My boss doesn’t understand anything about these things.
      3. Calculate your score. If you answered “Strongly agree” or “Agree”, it’s a positive answer, and if you answered “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree”, it’s a negative answer.
        • Four or more positive answers: Congratulations! You are in a good place to work.
        • Four or more negative answers: They probably don’t care about you. Not only do your leaders not do what they can to help you, but it is quite possible that they are passing on to you the results of their inefficiency, and adding that to your work load.
      4. At present, for each assignment, every job interview and every performance evaluation ask questions to find out at what point your company is doing its best – or not, to help you do your job.
      5. Begin by sharing this questionnaire, and everyone’s answers, on every possible forum. With colleagues, managers, everyone. Raising new questions about productivity can change the way it is measured in the company.

      · 26 : How to Decide : Stay or Go ? How Much is Too Much ?

      • Courage: for you to determine
      • Difficulty: for you to determine
      • Yield: for you to determine

      Now, it is time to figure out what it will cost you to make this decision, and to create your own Less-O-Meter.

      • No-one can do it for you.
      • Eventually, set a date so that you can keep the appointments you make with yourself.
      • Remember it’s your life and your happiness.
      • Are you using your 1440 minutes wisely and respecting them?
      • Will your company give you a lot of resistance if you try to implement these rules?

      Part 3 :

      What should leaders do to create a simpler company, a place where it is easier to work? Here are 7 areas that you should not neglect, each lists 10 pieces of advice, some of which are classic behaviors and others are trends emerging in the 21st century.

      There are no Less-O-Meters in this section.


      27 : How to Fix Leadership Development

      Most managers are like everyone else; they want to do a good job and make a difference. And like everyone else, they need help to stay focused, clean up the mess, manage complexity, and remain competitive in a BetterFaster world.

      To be a leader that does less and accomplishes more:

      • Classic
        1. Develop your whole self: emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, creatively and even more.
        2. Constantly improve your listening skills.
        3. Constantly improve your communication skills.
        4. Develop improved skills for your own self direction.
        5. Practice leadership based on principles.
      • Emerging Trends
        1. Constantly question and discuss this issue: “What is the responsibility of a leader with regard to the precious life of those he manages?”
        2. Reinvent your leadership university.
        3. Be hands on, regularly.
        4. Reinvent how you schedule your appointments.
        5. Look for two mentors: one half your age, the other twice your age.

      28 : How to Fix Your Worktools

      Tools help us manage the increased complexity of our work. But most tools and processes are designed to make things simpler for the company, not necessarily for individuals. But if we want everyone to be productive BetterFaster, companies must learn how to orient themselves towards the users – by starting out with the needs of the people doing the work.

      • Classic
        1. Build excellent productivity tools for the company
        2. Build excellent personal work tools and nice work spaces
        3. Build excellent tools for connectivity, collaboration and learning.
      • Emerging Trends: Continuously measure, track, and improve tools and processes based on:
        1. Clarity
        2. Navigation
        3. Satisfying basic needs
        4. User-Friendliness
        5. Speed
        6. Time needed
        7. Create a culture centered around personal productivity.

      29 : How to Turn Transparency Into an Advantage

      Transparency – giving external parties, like shareholders and customers, better access to figures and decisions made within the company – has set off several scandals in the professional world. But the real power of transparency is inside the company; giving more people access to customer data, to performance data, to the decision making process and much, much more.

      Leaders are therefore faced with a choice: is a world without secrets a threat or an opportunity?

      For a more transparent company:

      • Classic
        1. Communicate
        2. Communicate
        3. Communicate
      • Emerging Trends
        1. Create informational story boards. This will allow you to share basic company facts with everyone necessary.
        2. Loosen your controls so that natural trends can be expressed, and then study the trends and models.
        3. Reinvent Management and Performance.
        4. Reinvent Training and Development.
        5. Reinvent how the financial department thinks about human capital.
        6. Follow the success of your increasing transparency by studying up to what point your employees trust your system to help them succeed.
        7. Measure how much these systems reinforce the values, principles and ideals of the organization.

      30 : How to Fix Performance Management

      Even though human behavior is one of the most complicated things on our planet, most companies try to manage it in a simple manner – by using the carrot and stick to try and make it so that what people do is what they want them to do. There has to be a better way. A more robust way, that coincides with the very human need that people have to manage themselves.

      • Classic

      1. Have clear objectives.

      2. Be certain that managers and employees are in agreement among themselves in order to reach their objectives.

      3. Train managers to reach goals through continuous dialog, assessments and employee evaluations.

      • Emerging Trends

      1. Improve how people have interesting conversations.

      2. Enrich and expand your efforts for coaching and mentoring.

      3. Be the engine of cultural change among the senior executive team.

      4. Innovate.

      5. Rest assured that all performance management tools have two paths, not only leading to employee performance, but also to the performance of the tools at their disposal to help them.

      6. Tie training and development to improving performance management.

      7. Communicate, communicate, communicate…

      31 : How to Fix Training and Development

      Training can take place without learning and without profound development, but at excessive cost to both the company and the individual. Nowadays, this is what happens most of the time.

      To find cheaper and more powerful ways to help people learn more, more quickly:

      • Classic
        1. Learning is fundamentally social. Furthermore, the more you train people, the more they teach others – without incurring overhead for the company.
        2. Learning is an integral part of communities, groups and teams.
        3. Learning is a participatory act.
        4. Knowledge is part of learning, but it is a different part. Knowledge depends on the job.
        5. The job cannot be disassociated from its scope. If you lock your employees in a straightjacket that prevents them from trying – and failing – they will learn much more slowly.
        6. Failure to participate implies failure to learn.
        7. People are of course learning all their life long – as long as they are not bored.
      • Emerging Trends
        1. Tie improved management performance to improved training and improved development.
        2. We live in an attention economy. Deal with it. Now. You only have a few seconds, not hours or days. And that’s going to get worse and worse. Focus on the 20% of training which will give 80% of the value.
        3. Manage the attention economy paradox; Create space and time to think, discuss, challenge, inquire, question, stimulate and create connections.

      The book ends with 30 abbreviated pages summarizing the basic principles of the book, a true 20% of content giving 80% of the value inside the book itself! It also offers Less-O-Meters to photocopy or scan for our personal use.

      Book Critique:

      As I said at the beginning of this summary, the format of the book is amazing. Full of lists of clear bullets detailing every method/trick point by point, amusing and helpful drawings and pictures, and a layout designed to let you get right to the point without wasting time. This book is a model for all rule books, and even other books, in as much as it is a concrete application of what it teaches and allows you make your own book tailored exactly to your needs.

      It therefore avoids the biggest pitfall of rule collections which are of the “in one ear and out the other” type, since it recommends that you focus on the 4 or 5 rules/methods that seem most necessary to you and gives you a detailed guide to put it into practice.

      It also avoids another pitfall of rule books by going in depth into the subjects it mentions – the 300 pages are well filled, the length of this summary is the proof 😉 – and Bill Jensen lists a number of his points as being the results of probes, surveys and scientific studies that serve to underline the credibility and the relevance of the content.

      As far as the content, it is replete with experience and relevance on almost every page; the whole work really gives the impression of truth – the book describes things as they really are and not how they are described in theory, and many ideas are quite simply brilliant, even if they often need a great deal of courage to implement.

      Furthermore the book is full of humor and frankness, (franchise) and the author doesn’t hesitate to be direct at times in making his points 😉

      As far as defects, I will say that the book is above all well designed for people who work in large corporation, and that’s fine, but honestly, everybody – from employees to entrepreneurs, working in a very small company to a large Fortune 100 corporation – will find something of value because it brilliantly fulfills its promise: to provide methods, rules and tricks for doing less and accomplishing more.

      I therefore recommend it. Even if only three or four rules appealed to you in this summary, buy it, understand the rules in depth and implement them. For $17.95 you will have one of the best business books of the century and you will get a lot more out of it than the training classes for which you will pay a hundred times more.

      Strong Points:

      • Amazing format, with numerous humorous and helpful drawings
      • Designed not to be read in its entirety: choose the parts that interest you the most
      • Detailed and intelligent content
      • How-tos in the form of bulleted lists that are easy to understand
      • Substantiated with probes, surveys and scientific studies

      Weak Points:

      • Above all designed for people who work in large corporations

        Translated by

        My rating: image image imageimageimageimageimageimageimage

        Have you read the book? How do you rate it?

        Mediocre - No interestReasonable - One or two interesting paragraphsIntermediate - Some goods ideasGood - Had changed my life on one practical aspectVery Good - Completely changed my life ! (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


        Read more reviews about The Simplicity Survival Handbook on Amazon.

        PMBA Challenge:

        Cost of the Book: € 12,19
        Total Cost of the Project:  172,18
        Number of Pages: 300
        Total Number of Pages: 2446
        Reading Time: 4H
        Time to Write this Article: 8H
        Total Project Time: 98H
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