Succeeding in Business by Doing Less

I read with interest an essay in the Wall Street Journal by a management professor, Morten T. Hansen, arguing that the key to success in business is selectivity, i.e., figuring out which tasks were the most important to complete, doing them well, and focusing less on the rest. Workers who take this approach are not the “hardest” workers as commonly understood, usually measured by hours spent, but they are the most effective and ultimately successful. This is an application of Occam’s Razor, which generally states that when assessing two competing theories attempting to explain a problem, the simpler one is usually the right one. Applied in this context, the correct approach to completing business tasks is to simplify the steps. Hansen relates this to his early years as a management consultant, where he toiled away late at night and on weekends and yet was outperformed by a colleague who worked a sane 8am to 6pm schedule. Of course, the same dynamic applies in…

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