I think that some of the toughest, mentally draining work that a leader can do is the task of taking something that is complex and making it simple.
I came across the term Simplexity a while ago and think it aptly explains this task. Engaging in Simplexity is one of the most valuable things that you can do for your ministry. You are in a unique place as a leader. It is likely that you and only you are in a position to understand the information, discussion, collaboration, and sweat that has gone into building an idea or initiative. It is your job to boil it down to a simple idea that people understand and can support.
This is important - just ask Apple or Google who excel at making things simple. Better yet, ask the former leaders in their industries, Microsoft and Yahoo!. Skipping the steps of making the complex simple will lead to confusion, frustration, and possible failure.
I have spent the better part of the past two weeks trying to make some Simplexity happen. I serve as the Church Administrator in my local church as my full-time job. The last few weeks have been largely devoted to developing our Annual Ministry Plan. This is the organizational document that drives our entire ministry and fiscal budget for the next year. It's kind of a big deal.
Hours, days, weeks, and months go into preparing this plan. It would take me an hour to describe the priorities and details of the plan to an informed audience. No one (not even my mother) would listen if I attempted to explain the full process that we went through to decide some of the priorities and details. I have about five minutes at one meeting and maybe an email or two to communicate this important item to an audience that was not a part of the process and may or may not be interested in listening.
As I stared at the work that had been done, I labored to make things simple for those who were not part of the process. I ended up making three options for an interested person to choose for themselves how much information they wanted.
Option #1 An 8x11 handout with only a headline and graphic/picture that explained our plan.
Option #2 An 8x11 handout with an outline of 3 major priorities and a few sub-points under each.
Still high-level. Still not overly complicated.
Option #3 A full 15-page printout of the entire ministry plan. I figured that there just might be someone other than me who might be interested!
I'm sure that Option #1 is the preferred option for most of our church community, with a few wanting the next level of detail contained in Option #2.
It's a work in progress for sure. Making the complex simple always is.
4 Ways to Practice Simplexity in Your Ministry
1. Do simple often.
As a leader, make sure you take multiple opportunities to communicate your vision in clear, easy to
understand ways. No business jargon or churchy language. Simple aids understanding. If you want
to practice communicating in simple terms, practice in front of kids. They will let you know if you are too complicated!
2. One priority, not three.
If you communicate something, such as the Sunday message or organizational goals, limit your communication to one primary point that your communication is built around. What is the one most important thing? What is the one most important action you want someone to take? I understand the practice of the three-point sermon or three point business-talk outline. The more I lead and communicate, the more convinced I am that multiple priorities are just competing for space in people's minds and lives. Simplexity is key to help people learn and grow.
3. Build Simple on a Firm Foundation.
Structure your entire ministry in a simple, easy to understand way. This makes communicating somuch easier! This is one of the ways that I work with ministries to help them grow.
4. Make Simplexity Your Filter.
When you are communicating something important, use the filter of Simplexity. Always ask: Is this the simplest way I can explain this? If your answer is yes, then you are ready to communicate your priorities. If the answer is no, then you have more work to do.
How are you making the complex simple in your Ministry?