Image: My simplified new home in Harborne, Birmingham.
It’s my turn in the blogging hot seat this week and I’d like to take the opportunity to tell you about ‘Project Simplify’. This is not a management consultancy case study. It’s a personal project to de-clutter my life.
Last December I made the move from the Big Smoke to the mighty Midlands.
For me, the move was about more than just relocating; it was about clearing the junk out of my life, literally and metaphorically. Things weren’t as I wanted in London. I was working hard in a PR role for the infamous payday lender, Wonga, followed by an intense year supporting the company’ s Chairman to embed a global turnaround programme (this, I should add, is not the ‘junk’ I refer to, although the hours I kept do fall into that category).
I was spending my limited free time doing things I didn’t really want to do, trying to keep up with the social pressures of the capital. I spent my money badly and cluttered up my home with stuff I didn’t really like. And I had a series of health issues, which were only made worse by an unhealthy lifestyle, with long office hours and little sleep.
So, at the start of the year I decided to call time. I took four glorious months out, which I used to re-focus and re-prioritise. Project Simplify’s steps were as follows:
- I looked long and hard at the relationships that are important to me and made a vow to invest in them, rather than doing things because I felt obliged to
- I took up the hobbies I hadn’t had time for. I got the decorating bug (in line with my new mindset, I decked my entire house in a peaceful, minimalist style) and enrolled on a course in interior design – something I’ve always wanted to do
- I ate well, exercised loads and even introduced myself to some simple mindfulness practices
- I chucked away 75% of my wardrobe (… too many clothes felt burdensome)
- I found a role where I could work four days a week, rather than the 60+ hours I’d done in London
I realise, reader, that this is sounding dangerously like a lifestyle blog. But wait, there is a corporate takeaway here. As well as now putting simplicity first at home, working at Curium has reminded me of the value of simplicity in the workplace too.
Having worked here for four months, I’ve learnt that it is at the core of what we do: the business specialises in de-cluttering the complex and keeping things simple, and here’s some ways they do it:
Listen hard. All too often, consultants go into ‘tell’ mode, but that’s not our style. We take the time to listen and really get under the skin of a company’s business problem.
Be straightforward. We don’t play politics and we don’t use jargon. For example, we don’t believe in clever presentation packs that blind people with science. We stick to the facts, we use plain English and we make it crystal clear what we’ll do to help.
Deliver tangible results. We saved Home Retail Group (owner of Argos and Habitat, and, as of this week, part of Sainsbury’s) £2m and doubled their customer satisfaction scores. We helped Prologis, a global commercial property company, win a multi-million-pound new client. In other words, clients will always be sure of exactly how we’ve helped.
Have the experience to back up the advice. All of our team have client-side experience, so know first-hand the types of problems our clients deal with. This makes us simple to work with because we ‘get it’ – our approach is grounded in having tackled the problem before.
Don’t be time wasters. We will only engage with companies if we know we can help them and where we have a proven track record in solving the types of problems they’re up against.
I’ve worked with change consultancies in the past and know that these seemingly obvious points are often missed.
As Richard Branson famously said:
“complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It’s hard to make something simple.”
Never a truer word spoken, in my view, both in life and in work.