From Steve Jobs to Elon Musk: the value of simplicity in management

From Steve Jobs to Elon Musk: the value of simplicity in management

Once the great Leonardo da Vinci He said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” The world of management is no stranger to concepts like “Keep it simple” and there are many executives who are committed to simplifying processes in order to achieve better results and avoid stress among the members of their teams, a problem that afflicts 6 out of 10 professionals according to one study. investigation of The Regus Group.

Simplicity is so important today that it is being studied as a management principle. Julia Hobsbawmprofessor at Cass Business School, proposes a very interesting method to achieve simplicity: organizing around the number six.

The number chosen is not as important as the beginning: Very firm limits must be placed on the variety of options.

Hobsbawm proposes that we restrict the projects, the teams with which we work, the decisions that are made, etc. to six. If we go beyond this number, the complexity is such that it overwhelms and paralyzes us.

Although the complexity of today’s world allows us to doubt Da Vinci’s statement, the truth is that two of the greatest geniuses of our time, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, They also applied these criteria in the companies they ran.

In 1997, Steve Jobs was outside Manzana, the company he had founded and from which he had been fired in 1985. However, after the company lost its capacity for innovation and profit margins shrank dangerously, the managers of Manzana They called Jobs to rescue their creation.

In addition to revitalizing the brand through the memorable “Think different” campaign, Jobs completely changed the product strategy. During the ’90s Manzana had focused on designing more and more products. Seeing the complexity of the catalog, Jobs began to ask a very simple question: “What Apple products do I recommend my friends buy?” The employees’ difficulty in responding led him to nip the problem in the bud.

According to his biographer Walter IsaacsonJobs lost his patience in a business planning session for one of the products and said: “Stop! This is crazy!”. Next, he took a blackboard and drew a matrix with two axes: “Consumer/Professional” and “Desktop/Laptop”. The combination of the axes gave a matrix of four products. Jobs refocused Manzana so that it would focus on making these four products the best in the industry in every sense: functionality, performance, design, among others. With this strategy he managed to Manzana became the leading hardware company again.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk Its principle is to bring products to maximum simplicity to reduce costs and the probability of failure. His logic is impeccable: Musk considers that each extra component not only makes the final product more expensive, but its failures can make production processes slower and more difficult.

Again, it is Isaacson who tells us an anecdote about how Musk constantly seeks simplicity: in 2018, Musk was playing on his desktop tesla with a toy – but very realistic – version of the Model S. He noticed a very relevant difference compared to the real car: while the floor of the real model had countless parts, the entire floor of the toy was in one piece. He immediately went to the conference room and asked his team: “Why can’t we do this?”

One of the engineers said that there were no machines that could make such large pieces. Therefore, tesla He contacted all the manufacturers to see if there was a possibility of making a machine large enough to produce a single part the size of the floor of the Model S. Only one company was willing to take on the challenge, and it succeeded. Since then, tesla It made the production of its automobiles enormously cheaper and easier.

Of course, you have to have a lot of knowledge and many hours of reflection to understand what the fundamental aspects of a business or a product are. However, what they show us Jobs and Musk is that once this path has been taken it is necessary to reduce the problems to their minimum expression. Sophistication lies in simplicity.

Associate Director of Glue Executive Search.

Source: Ambito

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