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Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage in a World of More, Better, Faster Hardcover – January 6, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (January 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073820210X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738202105
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Scary fact: Business information doubles about every three years. In other words, if your job is complex now, in three years you'll have twice as much noise to sift through just to get your work done. Bill Jensen makes no bones about it: Making a job simpler is very hard work, and it's getting harder all the time. But he believes it's possible, and in Simplicity, he lays out concrete steps for managers to follow. For example, he offers a five-step process for launching a new project: Know which few things are important; consider how people will feel when you move forward on these things; use the right tools; create expectations and then manage those expectations; and create a "teachable view" of what you're trying to achieve.

If you consider all five of these building blocks before launching a new project, you should be able to overcome one of the biggest problems workers have with their jobs: too much information, with too little filtering. In fact, Jensen says, about 80 percent of business communication--meetings, e-mails, presentations, whatever--has a major problem: the information doesn't require action, or it requires action but there are no consequences of doing nothing. These building blocks can be applied to every form of communication and, most important, can be used as a formatting device to describe projects from start to finish quickly on a single sheet of paper. That'll get anyone's attention, from the boss on down to the people who actually have to do the work the project requires. It doesn't get any simpler than that. --Lou Schuler

From Library Journal

Jensen, president and CEO of the Jensen Group (a change and communication consulting firm), believes that most workers suffer from "cognitive overload"--too many choices and a lack of direction. This book presents the results of a survey of more than 2500 people in 460 organizations, along with a plan of action for business leaders. Disappointingly, Jensen applies his model of "know, feel, use, do, and succeed" unsuccessfully across several chapters. It is particularly jarring, in a book about simplicity, to find such a cluttered layout; the pages are filled with blocks of oversized type, notes, different typefaces, sidebars, and other distractions. Likewise, his suggestions are sometimes hard to follow, e.g., "For more help, reread anything relating to tools and support in the last three chapters"; indications of particular page ranges would have been far more helpful. Recommended only for comprehensive business collections and large libraries where demand warrants.
-A.J. Sobczak, Covina, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

If you like unusual formats, you'll love this book.
Donald Mitchell
The entire book is about what it will take get permission, time and attention from the people who do the day-to-day work.
Thomas Dixon
So I was delighted to read Bill Jensen's book, Simplicity.
Alan Starcher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

116 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Tony DiMarco on February 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I look at some of these reviews and it sounds like Simplicity set out to cure world hunger and reinvent all work. Maybe for some people, it does that. Not me. I'm just trying to do my best each day, make a difference, and spend more time with my kids. And I love this book.
Here's my take: Buy enough copies of Simplicity for everyone in your company. Not because it'll cure all of today's complicated craziness. But because it's real. It's basic. It's common sense made unbelievably useful. The tools and ideas the author offers involve day-to-day challenges: How to communicate differently...(the behavioral communication model has already helped me immensely)...How to use time effectively. How to help others navigate all the noise.
Buy this book because, as Jensen says, it's about the most basic thing that ties all of us together. Each of us gets only 1440 minutes each day. Simplicity is about changing how you and I use those minutes.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Dixon on April 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Building upon a previous review: This book is Cluetrain 2.0, Wheatley/Leadership 2.0, Petzinger/Pioneers 2.0, Tapscott/Digital 2.0, Godin/Permission 2.0! Yet Jensen isn't trying to create the "next big or new idea."
What makes Simplicity Business 2.0 is that it's practical. He takes many of the big ideas around us, and answers "where do we go from here?"
He details what we need to think about if we are to leverage the Net in a world that's already on choice and info overload. He covers how to communicate effectively, organize one's thinking for faster implementation, storytelling as a business tool, even how to listen and delete most of what is shoveled at us. Jensen also focuses on the needs of Net Geners -- what tomorrow's pioneers will demand of our organizations. The entire book is about what it will take get permission, time and attention from the people who do the day-to-day work.
Simplicity is about how our companies need to change so all our big ideas *actually work*. Buy one copy of your favorite new-big idea book. Get LOTS of copies of this book and give them to everyone you know!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jean-Paul Voilleque on September 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Here are the top three reasons that you should buy this book:
1. You've heard a lot about making work simpler, but you don't have any idea how to put "simpler" practices into place. Jensen drops several bombs in this book, most of them in the form of great tools for anyone in a management position. The theory is outlined quickly and without pretense and then the tools hammer home the essentials. This book is very good at getting you to reevaluate you thinking processes immediately. Everyone from CEOs down to front-line managers will benefit from these tools.
2. Your formerly small, fast-moving new media startup is experiencing growing pains. That's the case in my company, where we've gone from 60 employees to well over 400 in the US. My outlook on the state of my company has expanded dramatically since reading this book, because it effectively diagnosed the key problem: the business strategy and company values have become divorced from the day to day activities of employees. Simplicity is a handbook for living by your values and getting through growth phases in an organization, on project teams, and everywhere else. Again, managers need this information, but so do employees, who will feel empathy with the data from Jensen's study and find ways to make their job easier in the short term, and tools to manage upwards and change the way things work in the organization in the long view.
3. You're tired of management/business books that simply spout platitudes. Jensen engages the reader with lots of different layouts and chapter summaries that inform without dumbing down.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Erisman on May 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
What a tremendous overview of an important topic for all businesses. The book starts with some key points: Simplicity - the art of making the complex clear - can give us the power to get things done. This can be accomplished in a couple of different ways; Use time differently, and work backwards from what people (those employees closest to the customer) want. (Page 2). Throughout the book are direct challenges to senior executives to work hard at clarifying and respecting how the organization spends it's time.

One quote early in the book raises some key insights into how the organization really operates; "People tolerate management's logic, but they act on their own conclusions" (Page 14). Thus the necessity of simplifying the infinite choices facing your people everyday. "People, not programs, plans or technologies, make the final choices about what to do and how to do it". (Page 25)

One of the essential barriers to simplicity is ineffective communication. The book depicts such a stark reality, that I put the book down and pondered how often I do the very thing that creates complexity. The authors describe a well known problem: "Time pressure allows people to justify behaviors they would not accept from others. When people are in need of communication they want others to take the time to listen and create clarity meaning and connection. However when they are doing the communicating it becomes a matter of disseminating information and taking any available e-shortcuts". (Page 24). Ouch.

Another key to simplicity is getting people engaged, which gains their attention. One methodology depicted and outlined is how storytelling can engage your people.
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