In the introduction to the 25th-anniversary edition of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Jim Collins wrote: “I think of what he [7 Habits author Stephen Covey] did for personal effectiveness as analogous to what the graphical user interface did for personal computers…Covey created a standard operating system – the “Windows” – for personal effectiveness and he made it easy to use.”

What a high compliment that was – how nice for someone to say that I am the graphical user interface for supervision or for the organizational behavior or leadership classes that I teach.

The wisdom of simplification is often overlooked. On too many occasions, people feel like they need to make their message or proposal sound sophisticated or full of big words and jargon when in reality it would be much more powerful if it was communicated through an analogy or story. Synthesizing the key lessons into a memorable list (e.g. 7 Habits or STAR supervision) is harder to accomplish but far more memorable than having tomes on the subject.

Covey sold over 25 million copies of his 7 Habits book and Microsoft claims over 400 million users of Windows. The next time you are working on a project, think about the graphical user interface and attempt to elegantly simplify the complex.


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