Back to Basics – The Importance of Sweating the Simple Stuff

A number of years ago I wrote a tips book entitled ‘It’s Not Rocket Science‘. Hardly the most original title, I’ll put my hands up and accept that, but it seemed to fit at the time and still does. The fact is that most of the topics I write, speak and train about are, to a large degree, pretty straightforward. I often offer pretty simple advice and insights that everyone should be implementing on a regular basis and are based on common sense.

But how common is common sense?

When briefing ahead of a presentation or training session, I regularly advise clients, particularly in certain industries, that they will get some feedback that suggests that the content is very basic. As long as it’s a minority of delegates, they tend to be OK with that.

Last week I gave a presentation for a client where some of the feedback was along these lines. What was interesting was the range of feedback from people at my presentation. While a few people there felt that this was all information that they already knew and put into practice, both the client and I had people come up to us to tell us that I had made them realise just how much they are failing to do and where they planned to change their approach or that of their team.

In fact, in one case I was told that a group had been dismissing the content before the talk as too basic but that one of that group turned around afterwards and said, ‘maybe we’ve been a bit arrogant’!

As much as it’s rewarding and, of course, important to learn new things, surely we run the risk of falling behind our potential if we ignore the basics. Getting the simple things right is often the key to challenges that we invest hours in finding creative solutions for. Small steps that are easy for us to take can lead to huge shifts in the results we enjoy. But if we are always looking beyond the basics for the groundbreaking new ideas, it’s easy to forget things that are easy to do.

In terms of my presentation last week, if anyone said to me ‘it was a bit basic’ I would ask them some simple questions.

Questions like:

These questions are all very basic and anyone who’s running a successful business should be taking these actions and know the answers to these questions automatically. In my experience, however, many don’t. If you step back and focus on the basics, and you start building a strategy to ensure that the basics lie at the heart of your business, rather than taking it for granted, what more could you achieve?