By Gerry Murray. 03-11-2019
(Scroll down for a laugh)
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” ~ Hans Hofmann
Have you ever had the experience of picking up a new book, thinking that you’ll have a quick look through the introduction with a view to reading it later and then find that you can’t put it down?
Well, this is what happened to me about 2 weeks ago when I started to read Radical Simplicity by my former colleague and, until recently, Global CEO of DHL Express, Ken Allen.
I can safely say that it is one of the best (if not THE best) Leadership books that I’ve ever read. It’s just been published and I believe that it’s a book that every leader or aspiring leader should read.
In 2008 DHL Express made a loss of €2.2Billion. Ken became Global CEO in 2009. Thanks to Ken’s transformation of the company, in 2012 it made a €1Billion profit. In 2018, the profit was €1.9Billion.
What did he do?
I recommend you read the book to find out. However, as a taster, Ken created a simple Leadership model to deliver Radical Simplicity and he called it SELF Reflection:
S = Simplicity
E = Execution
L = Leadership
F = Focus
Reflection is the ability to take a view on how things are working. As Ken says “you review, learn and adapt.”
4 Pillars of Success
Now, you might be thinking that any ruthless person can put a knife through an organisation and reduce costs. And, you’d be right. There's a graveyard full of organisations where this has happened. However, the secret to Ken’s success was largely his indomitable focus on people. This formed the foundation of his 4-Pillar Strategy:
1 Motivated people - who will deliver
2 Great service quality - which will result in
3 Loyal customers - who will drive a
4 Profitable network - which will then allow us to reinvest in all of the above
Seen it before?! The difference, however, was that in Ken’s case he was consistent to the core in his focus on people. He lived and breathed it and was a role model for all leaders and managers at DHL in how he engaged, motivated and rewarded employees for high performance.
Simple is not easy
As Edward de Bono points out in his book Simplicity, the purpose of simplicity is to make life easier. However, de Bono also states that: “Finding a simpler way is usually neither simple nor easy.”
May simplicity be your friend this week!
A programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.” The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.
Never trust an atom. They make up everything.
A Roman walks into a bar, holds up two fingers, and says: “Five beers, please.”
A man got a parrot which could already talk. It had belonged to a sailor and had a big vocabulary. However, the man soon discovered that the parrot mostly knew only bad words.
At first he thought it was funny, but then it became tiresome, and finally, when the man had important guests, the bird's bad words embarrassed him very much.
As soon as the guests left, the man angrily shouted at the parrot, "That language must stop!".
But the bird answered him with curses. He shook the bird and shouted again, "Don't use those ugly words!" Again the bird cursed him. Now the man was really angry. He grabbed the parrot and threw him into the refrigerator. But it had no effect.
From inside the refrigerator, the parrot was still swearing. He opened the door and took him out, and again the bird spoke in dirty words and curses. This time, the man opened the door of the freezer, threw the bird into it, and closed the door. This time there was silence. After two minutes, the man opened the door and removed the very cold parrot. Slowly the shivering parrot walked up the man's arm, sat on his shoulder and spoke into his ear, sounding very frightened:
"I'll be good, I promise...Those chickens in there.. what did they say?"