Originally published at: https://blog.12min.com/simple-rules-pdf-summary/
How to Thrive in a Complex World
Our life is complex, and this complexity has only increased over time and with technology. Every day we deal with a great deal of information, and we need to make increasingly difficult decisions. How can we solve our dilemmas in the best way? The answer to this question lies in simplicity.
To combat the complexity of life, be simple and direct. And that’s where the simple rules come in. Forget about complex and difficult-to-implement solutions, whether you want to diet, solve a problem at work, pay your taxes or whatever, use simple rules for it!
The simple rules will help you to have an organized and quiet life, and to solve any complex problem you have to face! Want to know how to do this? Come, and we’ll show you the trick!
"Simple Rules PDF Summary"
The More Rules, The Harder It Is To Obey ThemIf you want to lose weight, there are numerous books and websites to help you with this. After reading a little about it, you've already forgotten half the tips you've read, and you're not even close to having a new life.
Why does it happen? If the number of rules is too high, you’d better let it go because you’ll end up forgetting everything. These activities will only help you exercise your memory, and there are better ways to do this.
Good rules should be simpler. They allow you to focus on what matters and to react flexibly to new situations. Research shows that most successful companies prefer a small set of simple rules rather than large elaborate systems.
Simple Rules Help You In Complex SituationsImagine that you are a doctor in an army hospital. Countless severely injured patients arrive daily, and you face a difficult task: deciding who to treat first. What do you do in this situation? Luckily, there are some reliable rules to make things easier.
Simple rules are clear guidelines for well-defined activities or situations. What is their purpose? Help you make good choices when things get tricky. Simple rules reduce the factors you need to consider in a situation, highlighting the most important things and avoiding you wasting time with trivial details.
That allows you to make good choices, and quickly - which can be very helpful if you work in a hospital. But how do you solve what is crucial in this hypothetical scenario?
Check your patients’ vital signs like the wrist, to estimate the severity of their condition. It takes less than one minute per patient. Patients with more severe vital signs need to be treated first - unless there is no hope and it is better to focus on saving the life of another person. This basic screening can ease the pressure of deciding what to do.
As one of the only tools that help us deal with complexity, we need more simple rules than ever before. Our world is far from being whole. First of all, every day more things are connected - from electronic gadgets in homes to markets around the world.
Also, our own rules and regulations have become so complex that it is difficult to keep track of things.
For example, the US tax code has 3.8 million words. The code is so complicated that the government employs 1.2 million employees to deal with it. Also, the American tax code surprises even the experts: a third of the income tax specialists make mistakes.
In such a confusing world, mistakes are inevitable. But with Simple Rules, you can improve your chances of succeeding in tricky situations.
Simplicity Gives You More FreedomLet's say you want to lose weight and decide to research the internet about it. There is a wide variety of popular diet programs to choose from. However, they all have one thing in common: a large number of rules that seem impossible to even decorate.
Getting familiar with even one of them can take days. The big advantage is that Simple Rules come in small numbers, so it’s easy to remember and adhere to them.
For example, bestselling author Michael Pollan has developed simple diet rules. He spent decades of research on nutrition to develop three Simple Rules: First, “Eat Food,” and with that, he meant natural foods rather than processed foods. Second, “Do not overeat.” Third, “Eat mainly plants.”
It seems too easy to be true but works according to scientific research. You will find that living these rules will help you lower your risk of having diabetes, obesity, and heart attacks.
There is another advantage in these rules of simplicity. Although they provide concrete guidance, they are not prescriptive. That means you have more room to be creative and make your choices. For example, Pollan’s diet rules do not tell you whether or not you should eat blueberries or bread for breakfast.
Simplicity can generate creativity. Sometimes it makes sense to limit yourself to success. Consider the great impressionist painter Claude Monet.
You can see from his paintings where he used the Simple Rules he created, such as “limit your topics,” “paint palms and lilies,” and “keep your focus on the light.” That allowed him to explore the artistic possibilities of these topics and create original paintings that were the forerunners of the Impressionist era.
How Simple Rules Can Help A CommunityThere are certain tasks we can not do alone - it is difficult to imagine a person building the Pyramids of Egypt. At such times, people come together in groups to achieve results they would not achieve alone.
And this does not happen only with humans: in the animal kingdom, group work is also standard. Consider Japanese bees. A bee alone has no chance against a huge bumblebee approaching the hive.
But together, the bees can defeat the invader. They cluster around the drone and vibrate their wings so fast that the attacker dies of overheating. This phenomenon is called “thermoballing.”
Like bees, humans need to be coordinated if they want to be effective - and that’s where Simple Rules come into play. Rules are necessary to direct all individuals to a common goal. Because people are unlikely to follow complex rules, Simple Rules are the best way to manage people’s (and bees’) interactions.
Simple Rules work best when communities set standards and make their members follow these rules. Standards are rules that seem so basic and obvious that people will not think twice about committing themselves to them.
For example, Zipcar, the largest car-sharing network in the world, has no vehicle delivery center. So a person who rents a car is dependent on how the vehicle was left by the previous driver.
But rather than forcing users to sign long contracts, Zipcar has only six very simple Rules, such as “fill the tank.” Because most users accept the rules, Zipcar avoids high costs and problems.
Different Types Of Simple RulesSimple rules are very useful, and we need to use them every day. There are different types of rules for different situations. Six of them in total. The first three are standard rules that help you make better decisions: boundary rules, rules of priorities, and stop rules.
The boundary rules will help you if you need to make a typical “yes or no” decision. Imagine that you are a thief: how do you decide whether or not to invade a house? Of course, you will want to break into an unoccupied house - but how will you know whether or not it is vacant?
While we may think criminals use complex formulas to plan their crimes, one study found that most of the time they are based on a simple rule: it’s one of the most reliable predictions of whether a house is occupied or not: “Do not invade houses with cars in the garage.”
There are also rules of priorities. They are useful if you need to sort different options. For example, as an investor, you have numerous options, but the money is not unlimited. So what choice should you make?
Complex formulas attempt to answer this question, but none of them overcomes a simple Rule of the Babylonian Talmud age: “a man must always put his money, a third on the earth, a third in goods and keep a third saved.” Translated into a modern context of finance, this rule becomes: invest in each class of assets equally.
There are also rules to stop. Knowing when to can save you from obesity. Here is a cross-cultural example: classic French cuisine uses a lot of butter, while many Americans follow low-fat diets. Still, few French people suffer from obesity. Why does it happen?
One study compared the eating habits of Chicago and Paris residents, and found that the French were thin thanks to a Simple Rule: “Stop eating when you feel satisfied.”
Improving Your Performance And AttitudesAfter exploring the Simple Rules that help us make better decisions, let's now consider the three rules that can help you have better attitudes.
First, there are rules about ‘how to.’ The most important feature about them is that they are not very determining rules, leaving room for creativity. Let’s consider, for example, sports commentators: they used to say everything they wanted until a BBC advertiser named Seymour Joly of Lotbiniere revolutionized that position.
His unique announcements were based on six Simple Rules, such as “talk regularly and succinctly” or “do and share your research,” such as talking about historical facts or personal information of the players. These rules seem commonplace now, but in the beginning, it was not so.
Also, there are also coordination rules. These rules are necessary for social contexts when individuals interact and need Simple Rules to know what to do. For example, in improvisational comedy shows, actors need to think about good responses quickly - without any script or essay.
How do they do it? They use Simple Rules that provide clear guidance.
To save time, they respond to everything that has been said before with a simple “Yes, and …” You do not need to be on an improvisational stage to find that this trick is very useful. Another rule is never to tell jokes ready. When performance is based on spontaneity, these jokes can mess things up.
Finally, we are aided by the rules of the moment - rules that help you determine when you should do things. For example, at what time you should sleep. This is a very complicated rule if you suffer from insomnia.
Fortunately, medical science’s findings on sleep can be summarized in four Simple Rules. They are: “Wake up at the same time every morning;” “Avoid going to bed until you feel sleepy;” “Do not stay in bed if you do not go to sleep” and “reduce bedtime.” simple and very effective way to improve your night-time habits.
Create Your Simple RulesWe cannot create our Simple Rules out of thin air. To be sure that your rules are the correct rules, you need to base them on a reliable and vast source of knowledge. That is, base them on your own experiences.
Every day we learn something new about how to live in the world. And, in fact, we learn every day of life! And why not take what we learn from the past and turn it into rules that will help in the future?
And that’s how American comedian Tina Fey did it. Based on the experience of famed producer Saturday’s Live Lorne Michaels, she wrote new Simple Rules for managing comedy shows - such as “when hiring people, mixing Harvard nerds with street improvisers,” or "never tell a crazy person that he/she’s crazy. "
If you think you do not have enough experience or knowledge, start by building on the experiences of others. That works very well for new companies, which profit by observing the practices established by the competitors. The revolutionary Netflix, started by adapting the rules of the DVD rental service of the extinct Blockbuster.
You can also base your rules on someone else’s scientific research. Think about those rules of insomnia based on medical researchers.
Simple Rules are the results of successful negotiations. And that’s what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needed to do when looking for rules for whale watching. These rules should protect endangered whales in the United States.
There is a major conflict of interest between scientists, private boat owners, and whale watching businesses. Fortunately, the Agency created a Simple Rule that everyone agreed: all boats need to stay at least 180 meters from the whales and 360 meters away from their path.
If you want to develop your Simple Rules, there are three important steps to that. First, discover the critical activities that will help you reach your goal.
For a company that wants to increase its profits, the key action could be to increase the factor that leads to the greater amount of profit. For example, the eToro investment platform has a different feature, the eToro OpenBook, in which experienced investors share their investment strategies.
Many beginners use the tool to receive valuable advice. The specialist investors who are most followed, reaching the mark of “Investor Popular.”
Popular Investors can increase their revenues in two ways: they make multiple transactions (and pay for transaction fees) or attract followers and persuade those followers to invest as well (and so followers will pay for fees).
Obviously, eToro wanted to attract a greater amount of Popular Investors to the platform because they generated more revenue than any other type of investor.
Next, eToro needed to identify the bottleneck or the problem that prevented them from moving forward. And that’s when Simple Rules generated more impact. The bottleneck of eToro OpenBook was the lack of Popular Investors.
Finally, you are ready to formulate your own Simple Rule based on your findings during the first two steps. For eToro, the Simple Rules for winning more Popular Investors were offering incentives - as financial rewards to investors who reached the highest places in the rankings of followers.
As an example: if you want to lose weight, your critical action will be to eat less. A common bottleneck may be the late night snacks. To stop eating at night, these two simple rules can help: “put the snacks in small containers” and “do not have snacks in the cupboard.”
Rules Must Be In Constant ChangeAfter a while, we can get so used to our Simple Rules, that following them will be much easier. But this comfortable level should not last.
Even if your initial rules still work, you should not stop working on them to improve them. Rules that worked very well once can become inadequate if the situation changes.
Also, your initial rules may be based on incorrect assumptions. Airbnb offers a space for people to rent their homes. The founders hoped their typical clients would be young people with little money, and they created rules to accommodate these people - such as focusing on cities with music festivals.
But a survey found that, in fact, many of the customers were older and richer than expected, and of course had different expectations. So the founders of Airbnb adapted their rules to what they learned. For example, a site rule now is: “always have a new soap.”
But sometimes the rules are outdated. In that case, you need to change them. Think of TV shows for example: In the old days, if you missed an episode, you had no chance to watch it.
As a result, TV shows needed to be written in a way that would allow people to watch an episode. An indispensable rule was: "Have a fixed cast of characters that appear in every episode. "But these days, in shows like House of Cards, a character disappears in the second episode and only returns at the end.
That is because Netflix allows you to watch episodes in any order you want and whenever you want, eliminating that outdated Simple Rule, enabling writers to be more creative and flexible.
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"Simple Rules Quotes"[bctt tweet="Investing the time up front to clarify what will move the needles dramatically increases the odds that simple rules will be applied where they can have the greatest impact." username="get12min"]
[bctt tweet=“When it comes to implementing a strategy of simple rules, pinpointing the precise decision or activity where rules will have the most impact is half the battle.” username=“get12min”]
[bctt tweet=“Too often, a company’s strategy sits on a shelf, gathering dust. A strategy that doesn’t influence critical decisions on a day-to-day basis, however, is not a strategy—it is a book report.” username=“get12min”]
[bctt tweet=“Meeting complexity with complexity can create more confusion than it resolves.” username=“get12min”]
[bctt tweet=“The best firms purposefully stay out of sync with their rivals.” username=“get12min”]
Final Notes:Simple Rules are used to aid in making complex decisions. Using simple rules when risks are high illustrates their power in a variety of situations.
These rules also raise an important question: if simple rules are so efficient in so many cases, why are complex solutions still used?
Several obstacles explain this. Among them, spending time and energy to develop these rules. The effort to use the simple rules is rewarded by the ease and good results achieved.