Simple, but not easy


“It’s simple, but not easy”

Yesterday I wrote “To be truly radical is to make hope possible“, and closed that post by saying today I’d write a little about what it takes for radical change.

I love radical change, transformative and brave. Incremental change is important, “marginal gains” and all of that is vital to maintaining forward momentum. However, for me what I love is supporting leaders who are hungry and brave and know deeply that something more radical is needed and that this is their path.

So, when a client asks me for my advice on how to transformationally change their organisation, after I listen, ask questions, then listen some more, I often come up with this statement.

“It’s simple, but not easy”

The other day I wrote: “Simplicity on the other side of complexity” in which I talked about supporting a CEO “with a transformative vision a few years ago. We indeed got to a one-page strategy like this, one which engaged the business like none other before.” then “To get there was simple, but it was not easy.”

As regular readers can likely tell, I’m full of phrases like that which I’ve distilled to simplicity over the years. Another key to why transformational change is “simple, but not easy”, is:

“Business is simple, humans are complex”

You see, while philosophy is based on the phrase “cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), I believe that humans are instead driven by feelings, not thoughts, as I wrote about earlier: “sentio ergo sum“.

Let us accept that premise, that people are deeply driven by feelings. Then, let us consider that, whilst a simple and easy to understand one-page strategy can be rationally accepted, if it represents a transformational change in the way people are expected to behave and act, rationalising this will not be anywhere near sufficient. Instead one must connect to feelings, to create embedded and embodied learnings that are embraced at a cellular level.

Once you achieve this, this connects to people’s “why”, they simply know it to be true and the right course, so then they will act, effect the “how” needed.

To touch more on this, recently at the Meaning Conference I attended a workshop by Within People where they had us look at the idea of  “unlearning”. To do this they anchored us on eight words.

In their words, these were taken from: “conversations we’ve had with leaders from companies of all shapes & sizes, all over the world about how they lead modern organisations.

What we heard was not what we expected. The secret to their success has been to ‘unlearn leadership’ – peeling back layers of mis-education and mis-perception that hold leaders back, and revealing what it is inside us that makes us powerful, equal and equipped to change the face of business.

With them we’ve identified seven qualities that will define leaders of 21st Century companies:








I also note that there was that eighth word that they added for the workshop, and yes, using it in the context of business to effect transformation is both unusual and vital. That word:


So, imagine the power that can be unleashed to transform any organisations once we connect our complex humans, what drives them as individuals, with what we are seeking to align around as drivers for our organisation.

How do we do that? Ah well, it is simple, but it not easy.

Oh, and I love this work SO much!

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