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Are you approaching challenges like my kids approached bicycles?

When both of our boys started learning how to ride a bike I was pretty thankful for our neighbors who introduced us to balance bikes (pedal-less bikes that focus on balance and coordination more than anything else). We started our boys on balance bikes right as they were starting to become trendy in the U.S. And they were becoming trendy for a reason - they work. In fact, they help kids learn how to master a real pedal bike much faster than if they used training wheels.


What’s amazing here is removing pedals, and not adding additional wheels, is what helped solve the “challenge” of children needing to learn how to ride a bike. Even more amazing? It took over sixty years for the overlooked solution of subtracting elements to be considered.


Research shows that when people approach a challenge to be solved, they’re more likely to attempt to solve it by adding elements to the equation instead of subtracting elements. It’s where our minds tend to immediately go when solving a problem - and it’s due to what’s easier for us when we’re addressing the problem. It’s much easier to think of something to add than to try and think of how taking something away will solve the issue.


When we add elements to the equation it makes it more complex. It may improve things, and it may help to solve a problem, but usually that help is only nominal. But when we look for elements to take away from the equation, it actually simplifies things and usually provides a much better solution.


It’s strange - we didn’t mean for it to be this way, but complexity has become the norm and simplicity is uncommon. But simplicity does win. It wins higher revenue. It wins customer loyalty. It wins employee loyalty. It wins higher productivity. Simplicity wins every time.


Do you recognize and reward your team members for bringing new ideas and processes to your organization? Many leaders do.


But have you ever thought to recognize and reward them for recommending what needs to be removed from your organization?  Your team will be a lot more effective if you do.

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