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Thought Leadership

Start the New Year with a simplification month

December 23, 2019

Leaders can gain clarity by using January to simplify operations and focus on desired outcomes for the coming year.

This time of year always ushers in resolutions and thoughts of what will be different when we wake up on January 1. But commitments to make lasting changes to diet and fitness can be fleeting. So why not tackle something at work that is well within your control and will make a real difference? Make January a “simplification month.”

I first heard about the idea in 2013 when I interviewed Jess Lee, the former CEO of the social e-commerce site Polyvore, who joined Sequoia Capital as a partner in 2016. Here’s how she described it: “We just asked everyone in the company to make a list of everything that they do, identify the things that are important, and for the rest of the list, simplify it, optimize it, or delete it, so we can get the company to the simplest possible state.”

The company deleted a bunch of features on its platform, killed some advertising products, and simplified its communication processes. Yes, it required a break from the full-speed-ahead mentality that startups need. But it was worth it. “The whole company worked on this for a month and that’s a chunk of time where we weren’t building new things,” she said. “But it’s really, really important to take the time to clean up all the entropy that otherwise will happen.”

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The ExCo Group’s Adam Bryant wrote this article for his column in Strategy + Business. It was originally published here.