Simplifying Complexity: Key to Greater Collaboration, with Lisa Bodell, Episode #2

One of the more powerful ways to unleash effectiveness and find greater fulfillment in life and work is to learn how to simplify the complexity that the modern age seems to force into our lives. My guest on this episode of Masters of Leadership is Lisa Bodell, CEO of futurethink, a company that enables organizations to embrace change to become world-class innovators. In this conversation we get practical, talking about the simple things companies large and small are doing to simplify complexity in their systems and cultures and how we can apply the same kinds of approaches to our personal and professional lives.

Innovation isn’t happening because the work bogs us down.

One of the buzzwords of modern business is “innovation.” Every company wants to show up in its market or niche in fresh new ways, but too often the work OF the business is what gets in the way of new approaches. Lisa Bodell says we’ve got to figure out how to simplify the work we do in order to provide the space, the opportunity for true innovation to take place. Simplifying the complexity of business systems is one of the most obvious places to start. In this conversation, Lisa describes the steps many companies are taking to simplify the complexity of their work so team members can experience the freedom to think and work outside the constraints that stifle innovation.

The key to ridding yourself of complexity: Change your habits.

Simplifying complexity: the very thought can be overwhelming. Sometimes, complex things are complex for a reason, but much of the time complexity creeps in unnoticed, adding layers of unnecessary burden to already complex systems and approaches. It happens simply because we’ve fallen into work and life habits that permit complexity to rule the day. The reality is that much of the complexity in our lives and companies can and should be simplified – and greater effectiveness and fulfillment result when we do. On this episode, Lisa Bodell shares surprisingly simple tips about how we can simplify the things that bog us down – and it all starts with our habits. You’ll be amazed at how simple it can be, so be sure you listen.

Collaboration often requires that we email less and communicate more.

This first season of podcast episodes is focused on the art and skill of collaboration and why it’s a necessary component of true innovation. Naturally, effective communication is required to collaborate well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should rely on the communication tools we’ve become accustomed to. For example, Lisa Bodell says collaboration often requires that we email less so that we can actually communicate more. That’s because email is one of the primary areas where complexity creeps into company systems to gobble up time better used for face to face collaboration. You can hear Lisa recount how major companies are taking collaboration to a whole new level by placing restrictions on email, in this episode of Masters of Leadership.

If you want to be a master collaborator, be sure to include the unusual suspects.

The real power in collaboration comes from infusing your process with the insights of many people. That allows you to view the issue through differing perspectives, which in turn opens the door to new ways of thinking about the problem at hand. Lisa Bodell says master collaborators come up with ways to include the perspectives of people she calls “the unusual suspects.” Spouses, finicky customers, even those who have hated on your company might be the perfect candidates for getting you outside your normal way of thinking and into a place of innovation. Find out how Lisa recommends going about it, on this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:10] What does Lisa think of when she considers the concept of “collaboration?”
  • [2:20] The themes and reasons behind Lisa’s book, “Why Simple Wins.”
  • [4:54] Examples of how leaders are removing complexity to achieve innovation.
  • [6:37] How Lisa simplifies her life.
  • [10:25] Why we need to put guardrails around digital communication.
  • [13:35] Lisa’s response to the “digital detox” movements happening today.
  • [17:26] Tips on how to become a better master of collaboration.
  • [20:16] Lisa’s resources and how you can connect with her.

Resources & People Mentioned

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