The Case for Simple


Recently, I was on a domestic flight in Mexico.

The video screen dropped down and narrated emergency procedures.

The plane has six exits. Only four are for use during a water landing because these are equipped with rafts. In the event of a water exit, take off your shoes. The vest is located under your seat. Take that before you go out to the raft. Do not inflate the vest until you are outside. Remember to pull this thingy to inflate the vest. To brace yourself in an emergency, put your head between your knees and your hands over your neck. Put an oxygen mask on yourself first. They will drop from above. The bags under the act need not appear to inflate for oxygen to come out.

I remember this now, as I am 30,000 feet in the air on my way back to Boston, coffee in hand, shoes off, listening to music.

Do you know what I will remember when I am on an emergency landing?

Nothing. I won’t remember anything.

I will be thinking about how to get the hell out of the plane.

The 30 microinstructions I received wrapped in a very palatable video were super when I was at ease and comfortable. But in a time of stress? What exactly are the top three things I need to remember?

I wish the airline had told me that. In a time of stress, I only need to remember the most important things.

As an outsourced CFO, this is why I spend much time simplifying my thoughts and asking others to do the same.

To make an impact and help my clients manage through the change, I have to carve a straightforward path that sets a few simple goals that distill the essence of what is trying to be accomplished into its most basic form.

Part of what I do is work with companies to carve a path forward through the transition and help executives themselves manage through it. I work with executives to build resilience into the fabric of the business.

Building a culture of resilience is not often a corporate value or mission, but it should be.

Expecting all employees to be resilient during transitional times is key to managing through the transition. Building a company is equally stressful for the employees and executives.

In a business, there is no monopoly on tough times.

In sum, the work may be difficult. But what we are trying to accomplish must not be.