I’ve been doing some work with a non-profit here in my home state of Michigan and recently had a conversation with a pre-school director. She mentioned to me how at the beginning of the school year it’s extremely important to lay out the rules for the children but also the importance to keeping it simple and easy to remember.


When I asked her how she managed to keep it simple with twenty 3 to 5 year olds she stated out her ground rules.


  1. If you open it, close it.
  2. If you take it out, put it away.
  3. If you drop it, pick it up.


Simple right- then it dawned on my that if the businesses I worked with would adopt simple rules and guidelines that were easy to remember and follow, then the playground we call business would be so much easier to manage.


Let’s start by using these three simple rules and find out how they apply:


  1. If you open it, close it.

How often in your business do you start zeroing in on a problem or a process that you deem necessary to start tinkering with or prying around? Maybe you zoom in from your lofty 10,000-foot big picture view and start rooting around in the weeds with you operations group. As you start opening things up and ripping them apart you begin to find other issues that you hadn’t anticipated. Soon you find yourself beneath the weeds and into a swamp of quicksand. It’s then that you immediately extract yourself from a situation that you probably had no business being involved in the first place.

Essentially you have now left something wide open that you now have no intention of ever closing back up. Others are now left to close the gaping would you have inflicted on the organization.

My first coach once said to me that problems in organizations are usually caused when sales people attempt to become involved in operations, or when operations people attempt to get involved in sales. In reality very few people can be effective in both roles and those that are become high value assets.


  1. If you take it out, put it away.

Ask yourself if you have ever taken something. An idea, a process, a system, a client, a referral, a resource, a person, with the intent of returning it but then never got around to it?

Look, it’s completely acceptable to utilize the resources that you have both people and non-people. But unless you’ve actually discussed it becoming permanent than it’s easy to create a lot of conflict and dysfunction.

If your organization is like most, than you do not have unlimited resources so it’s important that you communicate your needs and your intentions when you decide to commandeer the resources available and if necessary return them to their rightful place or owner.


  1. If you drop it, pick it up.

I believe this one speaks for itself. In the course of doing our jobs and fighting the good fight we are going to make a mistakes- a lot of them. That’s perfectly ok, especially if you ever want to accomplish anything of value. The lesson is simply, if you drop the ball take ownership first and then pick it back up and fix it.

If you are into blaming others, passing the buck, or you avoid taking any sort of ownership for your outcomes, well than maybe you should re-visit my client’s pre-school and start learning to hold yourself accountable.



Please post your own lessons learned in pre-school or a simple set of rules and guidelines that you employ in with your team and organization. Let’s all learn to keep it simple.



Thoughts for the week about keeping things simple:


Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. –Leonardo Da Vinci


See it big and keep it simple. –Wilferd Peterson


When things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting. –Anon


Life is amazingly good when it’s simple and amazingly simple when it’s good. –Terri Guillemets


Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make things complicated. It’s hard to keep things simple. –Richard Branson


Make it simple but significant. –Don Draper