Welcome to the first post of my weekly book review series! From now on, I will be publishing a review on a book I have read in the past each Monday. I will focus on non-fiction books dealing more or less loosely with the topics of Lean Management, minimalism, simplification, sustainability as well as social and environmental issues.
Lisa Bodell: “Why Simple Wins: Escape The Complexity Trap And Get To Work That Matters”
Due to my interest in minimalism, I was increasingly looking into simplification in a business context during the last couple of months. I was surprised on how little literature there was available for this area, but I stumbled upon this book at some point and decided to buy it. I never really felt like I was in the “complexity trap” as the book’s title suggests, but I believe I was struggling with the complexity that is often connected to a large, multinational enterprise. As I was working for one of those until very recently, I was curious about the solutions the book might offer.
Lisa Bodell includes many interesting case studies in “Why Simple Wins”, describing many complexity issues I have come across myself both in a business context and as a private person. However, the book didn’t really contain any big “revelation” as I was hoping for. As an example, one suggestion is to move away from thinking in departmental structures and towards a more customer-oriented view – simplify for the customer, not for your employees. However, these ideas are closely linked to what has already been discussed extensively within the Lean Management context.
Another point that bothered me about this book is – ironically – its lack of simplicity. The author offers huge spreadsheets and endless questionnaires as a way to identify which areas are most in need of simplification and how to tackle this task best. I couldn’t tell if these spreadsheets are any good, because they were printed in a font so tiny they were impossible to read on my Kindle. But to be completely honest, you would have to be extremely motivated to go though spreadsheets that take half an hour just to read – let alone explain them to your employees / co-workers and spend entire meetings going through them together.
Summing up, the book contains some interesting ideas. However, I was missing the novelty in them. The suggested tools might even work in a business context, but I felt like they were far too complex to actually be used in the real world. As a conclusion, I would only give a rating of only two of five possible stars to “Why Simple Wins”.
Overall rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)
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