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Produce More by Removing More

Stashed in: Simplify, @bhorowitz, Management, Awesome, Life Hacks, Farnam Street

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We rarely have the time to think through what we’re doing. And there is a lot of organizational pressure to be seen as doing something new.

The problem is that we think of execution in terms of addition rather than subtraction. The way to increase the production speed is to add more people. The way to get more sales is to add more salespeople. The way to do more, you need more — people, money, power. And there is a lot of evidence to support this type of thinking. At least, at first. Eventually you add add add until your organization seeps with bureaucracy, slows to an inevitable crawl, centralizes even the smallest decisions, and loses market share. The road to hell is paved with good intentions with curbs of ego.

Rather than focusing on what to add, the Essentialist, McKeown argues, focuses on “constraints or obstacles” that need to be removed. It isn’t about adding, it’s about subtracting. I found this interesting to think about in the context of Ben Horowitz’s distinction between good and bad organizations.

I like the first paragraph of the above blog poster, Shane Parish, especially here:

Aristotle talked about three kinds of work: theoretical, practical, and poetical. The first searches for truth. The second is practical with an objective around action. The third, however, is lost in our modern culture. The philosopher Martin Heidegger called this “bringing-forth.”

The Toaists (Daoists) wrapped up Aritstotle's three types of work into a single insight.  And they then represented this insight, or enlightenment, as an empty circle.  The remaining, living internal energy Daoist martial arts implement Aristotle's three kinds of work in a deliberate, methodical and focused removal of obstructions. And that wisdom of Essentialism can be applied in any setting.

Parish posts further,

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown describes this as an essentialist trait.

Yeah, well, weighing in at 272 pages, Greg McKeown' book is probably not that essential... he's got more work to do to make less for us to read.

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