The “Justin Case” Leadership Style

Simplicity is one of my top values so it’s no surprise this blog by The Leadership Freak (Dan Rockwell) caught my attention.

Raise you hand if you hate complexity? Raise your hand if you have found yourself creating complexity unknowingly? I’m guilty on both charges.

In this article, there was one phrase that caught most of my attention: “Any fool can start something new. It takes courage to end something old.”

During the past several months, we’ve had plenty of “future enhancement meetings”.  We build plenty of actuarial models and there’s always something to improve or some user feature to be added.

It’s in those meetings where I hear different versions of “let’s change this just in case“:

  • (important person) asks for it.
  • Something like this happens again.
  • We want to look at it in the future.
  • There’s something we are leaving out.

And the list goes on.  Damned be the one who suggests getting rid of something.  It seems everything must be kept “Just in case”.

With this mentality we have added run-time to our tools, changed the format regularly, made it more difficult to explain, mistakes take longer to find, everyone is always busy, and frustration is the daily cup of tea.

How can we avoid the just in case paradigm?
  • Set a goal and purpose from the start.
    • All tools built start with a problem needed to be solved.  Any additions that won’t answer the original problem must be questioned automatically.  Remember, a good idea doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.
  • Keep the big picture in mind.
    • As problem solvers we tend to be quick to act and ignore the possible repercussions of our actions.  I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself creating more questions, distrust on quality of product, and higher stress because I decided to add things “just in case”.
  • Reevaluate Regularly and Diligently.
    • Ask yourself,
      • Does this still meet our needs?
      • What features are no longer used?
      • If we remove this, what do we gain? What do we lose?
      • If we add this feature, what’s the increase to explanation power?

“The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.” Warren Buffett

In what ways have you kept it simple? What’s your version of the “Justin Case” Leadership style?




What is your experience with this concept?

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