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Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity Hardcover – June 7, 2016
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“Steve Jobs’s favorite communicator has created a must-read manual for anyone interested in simplifying their way to success. Ken Segall gathers the best advice from industries and leaders around the globe, and combines it with his own experience on a rocket ride with Apple from life support to world domination.”
—Steve Hayden, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather (Retired)
“Ken Segall shows how simplicity in a product requires simplicity as embodied in the company that makes the product. He explains, with countless examples, that when a company's mission, vision, and values embrace simplicity, the result is a successful company that can produce higher quality outcomes with less bureaucracy and mediocrity."
—John Maeda, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and author of The Laws of Simplicity
"How do you appeal to customers when the competition can do virtually the same job? Having the right answer to this question is a matter of brand life or death. Fortunately for us, Segall's practical book gives us exactly the insights we need to succeed in a complicated world."
—Nir Eyal, author of Hooked
“Think Simple is, well, simply stunning! Almost every company makes almost everything unnecessarily complicated and complex and, eventually, bad stuff happens. Segall shows you – step-by-step - how to avoid having this happen to you and your business. An absolutely brilliant book. I endorse every word.”
—Jason Jennings, author of The Reinventors, Think BIG-Act Small and The High Speed Company
About the Author
Ken Segall is the author of the New York Times bestseller Insanely Simple. Working with Steve Jobs as his ad agency creative director for twelve years spanning NeXT and Apple, he led the team behind Apple's legendary Think different campaign, and set Apple down the i-way by naming the iMac. Segall has also served as agency global creative director for IBM, Intel, Dell, and BMW. He is an international speaker on the power of simplicity, and frequently appears on cable and Internet news for his marketing insights.
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I am a big fan of the One Thing and the 80/20 Rule, so I got this book hoping to get some simple tips on staying focused and lean and mean.
The book was somewhat interesting but, ironically, I thought it was really too long and drawn out for the small entrepreneur ... or at least I didn't have the patience to read the whole thing and apply it... I wish it had been simpler with maybe a quick start guide or something...
On the other hand, since the company leaders Mr. Segall interviewed for this book aren’t nearly as popular as Apple’s, we’re trusting blindly that they’re good blueprints of simplicity. It’s one thing to learn the secrets of the most iconic company of our day. It’s another to trust that the leaders of Hyundai Card or an Australian real estate company are equally appropriate role models.
This book is less about breaking new ground not already covered, and more about adding a little more nuance to the same ideas.
Seagull focuses on nine themes or dimensions of simplicity, asserting “Simplicity isn’t simple.” Rather, it is on a mission, in the air, loves a leader, is a team spirit, is true to the brand, fits all sizes, is sleeker, creates love, and is instinctive. Long ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. observed, “I do not care a fig about simplicity this side of complexity but would, give me life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Helping as many people as possible to get to that “other side” is why Segall wrote this book.
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Segall’s coverage in Chapters 1-4:
o The Science of Simple (Pages 8-9)
o The Transformational Power of Mission (13-16)
o Finding a Mission That Scales (16-18)
o Simplicity Starts Here (23)
o Values Guider Behavior 25-29)
o Values Transcend the Product (29-32)
o Strong Values Inspire Bold Action (35-37)
o Integrity Is a Powerful Value (37-40)
o A Culture of Commitment (48-51)
o Leaders Who Empower, Not Dominate (55-57)
o Serving as Chief Uncomplicator (58-61)
o Keeping the Start-up Simple as It Grows (68-72)
o Focus Starts at the Top (72-75)
o When Leading for Simplicity Failed: The JCPenney Story (75-82)
o Brilliant Hires Are the Key (87-91)
o “People Are the Whole Ballgame” (91-96)
o “The Art of Firing” (101-103)
o Values Are an Employee Magnet (103-105)
o Simplicity Is a Group Effort (105-106)
In my opinion, some of Segall’s most valuable material is provided in the final chapter, “Finding Your Road to Simple.” He offers fifteen specific recommendations that will help his reader formulate a “road map to developing a road map — an outline of strategies to consider and actions you might take as you set out to leverage the power of simplicity.”
All of the most significant journeys that people take in life should begin well and that’s really what this chapter addresses. In fact, with only minor modifications, this same material offers wise and practical counsel to everyone who is involved in all major organizational change initiatives. “Making a company simpler typically requires steely determination, a touch of relentlessness, and marathon-like endurance. There’s only one reason why any sane leader would launch such an initiative. It’s worth it.”
Although Steve Jobs devoted his life to creating insanely great products, he realized that he needed an insanely simple organization to do that. Ken Segal lmakes a key point: Jobs never diminished the challenge of simplification. “But in the same breath he said that once you achieve simplicity, ‘You can move mountains.’ He wasn’t talking about himself. He was talking about you. The philosophy he expressed can be embraced by anyone, in any company, in any industry. To begin, you only need to put your stake in the ground.”
The book is rather disappointing though and I gave up after a couple of chapters as I had not learned anything new by then. And I can not imagine that the target audience for this book would think differently.
For some reason I get the impression that the book is more a justification for the time spent with key corporate leaders. But there is no real outcome.