Capsule wardrobe

When I started my entrepreneurial life, one of the first things I did was to get rid of more than two thirds of my wardrobe. After more than 20 years of working in the fashion business, I had all kind of clothes, for every occasion, in every print and fabric you could imagine. Packing my suitcase in my corporate days (something I had to do every week) was a headache: matching accessories, not repeating items, making sure everything belonged to the current collection … But when I started travelling as an entrepreneur, everything changed. Most of those clothes were left at the back of the wardrobe and the clothes that rotated every week (because I still travel, but with a different dynamic) were the basic and essential ones, the ones that match with everything, the ones you can wear to go to a session straight from a flight, the ones that are impeccable without ironing. I embraced the “capsule wardrobe” concept happily, convinced that “less is more” is essential to move forward at a good pace. And I think of my capsule wardrobe every time I see the chaos of processes, procedures and tools that exist in countless companies and institutions.

How many procedures or tools are actually useful on a day-to-day basis within your organisation? Last week I was asking a room full of HR leaders whether they would re-implement a famous software they had in almost all their companies, and they all answered with a resounding no. The closets of many organisations are even more complex than the one in my corporate days: sophisticated tools that took years to implement and of which only 30% is used, processes that someone created centuries ago and that nobody understands why they are still being used, software bought here and there to cover issues that the sophisticated tool does not solve, licenses of a SaaS that was only used when someone planned to implement agile in the company, … There is a high level of corporate Diogenes syndrome when it comes to tools and processes, which often degenerates into a significant operational hindrance (even paralysis).

The solution is simple: open the closet and ask what benefit each software, each tool and each procedure brings. Why it was created or purchased, for which end-user and how it facilitates the work. If someone created a process without knowing the reality of its end user, danger. If a tool was bought because someone used it in a previous job, danger. If a software was installed because the company next door had it, danger. Often we will see that, in order to bypass the cumbersomeness of that closet, people end up using simpler, more accessible or more everyday solutions, which are the ones that should actually shape the true capsule wardrobe of that organisation.

So we don’t need to procrastinate any longer. Let’s get rid of what does not make our life easier and slows us (and our business) down. In fact, we have been looking forward to it for a long time.

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