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"Simplicity Sprints" Simple yet effective!

As many companies have been struggling during the pandemic to figure out delivery and productivity. Google's CEO Sundar Pichai initiated the concept of "Simplicity Sprints" to help the company and its employees. Reading this article ( made me think how we could use this simple concept but scale it effectively in any organization. In today's community many of the digital transformation efforts have been focussed on scaling, scaling the program, the portfolio, enterprise etc... but the common piece that is missing is simplicity. How do we scale with simplicity. Too often many of the frameworks and assessments used today have made problems more complex.

Based on our experience we have seen that many of the companies are jumping into the solutions space with frameworks, implementing aggressive change, and in return are building resistance and resistance to change. All of this impacting the culture and the productivity of the organization. However, what if we take and dissect Pichai's simplicity sprint and how we can use just three questions to help guide us on where to start?

Dissecting "Simplicity Sprints"

The 3 SIMPLE questions to ask:


  1. What would help you work with greater clarity and efficiency to serve our users and customers?

  2. Where should we remove speed bumps to get better results faster?

  3. How do we eliminate waste and stay entrepreneurial and focused as we grow?

Notice the framing of these questions they are using "we" as a pronoun to address the question not "you" or "I", this is a powerful way to get the right mindset when asking questions.

What would help you work with greater clarity and efficiency to serve our users and customers?

Looking at the first question we also see a level of empathizing with the person, notice how it asks "What would help you...", this is a direct connection to allow the person to feel comfortable and open. Also mentioned in this first question we see the importance of users and customers, at the end of the day that is whom we are building for, however when asking this question, it shows how much we value our employee and how important and critical they are to the organization. The emphasis put on the first part of the questions, as they are the ones who are the most important in helping our customer and users.

Where should we remove speed bumps to get better results faster?

This second question again asking in terms of "we". Very important to keep the mindset intact to be able to build a strong relationship with the person you are asking.

Notice here we are only asked for a simple but, yet effective request and that is how can we remove the bottlenecks, or things that are keeping us from getting better results faster. *Facilitation of this question is important. As a coach or leader if you asked this question to a team directly for example, it may have a different impact. However, if you asked the question AND provided an example it may initiate in a more deeper discussion. The goal of this simple question is to open up a dialogue with the team, create an open and safe space for them to reveal the speed bumps and bottlenecks they have identified. Create a positive environment, and pay attention to how you ask the question, because that is just as important. For example asking this question in a very monotonic voice may not yield the right results, delivery on vocal tone, body language, plays a critical role when facilitating this type of question.

How do we eliminate waste and stay entrepreneurial and focused as we grow?

With this question we still leave the person feeling, they are open to try and be innovative, as innovation is very important for Google, and that is displayed by using the word "entrepreneurial" in the question. However, notice there is a conjunction "and" to emphasize we need to be focussed as well, as we are growing. This question is a great way to make the person feel comfortable and open to share their thoughts on elimination of waste, but also feel ok to continue to experiment in an effective way.

In order for any company or organization to be successful, it is very important that we eliminate waste, a concept from lean thinking. When we eliminate waste we optimize the flow of our system. By asking this question, we open up with the ask, followed by input from the person as we grow. Notice how inclusive this question is, we immediately make the person feel part of the team, even if this is coming from leadership the person's opinion matters! Again an example of a very powerful question, that allows for the input from the person without being overly leading.

Do you think facilitation and delivery of these questions play a critical role?

  • No - Facilitation is not as important

  • Yes- Facilitation is very important

  • I don't think these three questions are detailed enough


If we properly execute and ask these questions in the context they are given, followed by strong facilitation, there are many insights that can be derived through conversation. Yes it is just as important to be inclusive of all, so allowing introverts weigh in their opinion and thoughts, but this is all done through a strong facilitator. In Google's case this was sent out as a survey and discussed with senior leadership. However, I feel these are questions we all should be asking ourselves, and creating an atmosphere where this is normal. The more we ask these questions and practice the delivery, and build that positive culture, the easier it becomes to derive the information from these questions.

If you are looking for help in this area, and are tired of not having a good organizational change strategy for your organization, connect with us and learn more on how we can help :)

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