April 5, 2013

Keep It Simple

According to ClichéSite.com, “Keep it simple stupid” is one of those phrases, as Merriam-Webster’s defines it, “that has become overly familiar or commonplace.” Yet, according to a March 29 essay in the Wall Street Journal“When Simplicity Is the Solution”—life today is becoming increasingly complex, much to the detriment of our own well-being. As the authors point out, simplicity is not only a key to happiness in life, it is also vital to success in the marketplace.

News like this is a reminder that we are not only doing the right things at Northwood University but that we are also doing things the right way. It also serves as inspiration for us to build on our customer service success by finding new and deeper ways to think like our customers—both internal and external.

Everything we do—from open houses and orientations and the application and admissions process to the classroom and applied learning experiences through commencement—reinforces our core value proposition. It tells students, parents, and guardians that we are the university-of-choice. The same goes for our internal customers. By focusing on what matters most, we ensure our work is completed and in a manner that is respectful of our co-workers and their respective duties.

Most of all, it is the level of care and the personal touch we express to others which sets us apart, especially from our larger competitors. The seemingly “little things” we do—like making eye contact, sharing a smile, offering a warm greeting, and sending notes of encouragement and recognition—keep attitudes positive and imaginations fertile. It’s no wonder then that NU is brimming with new ideas and work.

As Adam Smith pointed out long ago, the foundation of an efficient and effective free market is the asset of sympathy. In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which he published before his Wealth of Nations, Smith contends we do best when we approach our work from the viewpoint of others.

“How selfish soever man may be supposed,” writes Smith, “there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him...”

He was right. By putting ourselves in the situation of our students, their parents or guardians, and our colleagues, we better—and more simply—serve everyone’s most important needs and thus our own.

Have a great weekend.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640