Why do most businesses make it so complicated for themselves, as well as you and me as consumers? And how come some businesses get it and keep it simple and rake in loads of money as a result?
These are the two questions that I was interested in finding answers to at the VECCI Business Leaders lunch with Ken Segall, ad man and New York Times bestselling author of Insanely Simple. Oh, and he’s also the guy that put the “i” in front of Mac to give rise to the iMac, which led to the iPod, iPhone and a whole load of other iSomethings.
What is simplicity?
Simplicity is all about thinking minimal. Less is more!
For example, you can minimise the words in your advertising, have less people at your meetings or even use common words to explain uncommon things like Da Vinci said.
Recent examples of simplicity shared by Ken include McDonald’s new price of $1 for every cup of coffee (no matter what size) in the US, which has recently extended to soft drinks.
As a customer, you no longer have to think much, as long as you have a dollar in your pocket, you know you can afford coffee at McDonald’s.
Sounds simple, right?
Then why don’t more businesses KIISS? Why do many choose complexity?
Why is simplicity better than complexity?
Let’s look at two more examples of simplicity triumphing over complexity.
First: iTunes at 99c a song is pretty simple, right?
So why did Microsoft invent Zunes with Xbox-like points that translated to odd numbers that resulted in customers being in credit despite the fact their points to cents to songs conversion was the same as Apple’s iTunes at 99c?
Second: it took a lot nerve for Steve Jobs to kill all 28 products existing in the Apple portfolio in 1999 when they literally had only 90 days cash to burn before bankruptcy.
However, as we now know, the resulting iMac more than made up for the lost complexity.
At the end of the day, being authentic, striving for perfection and achieving it only when there is nothing left to remove is what simplicity is all about.
It sounds simple but just give it a go and watch complexity creep in around you. In pursuit of inclusion, everyone puts their mark on things and the business gets more complicated – as a business grows, so does complexity.
Ken himself confesses that in writing his very own book on simplicity, he made it overly complex by adding 10 principles.
When you feel complexity setting in, revert to the first principle of simplicity: no compromise. Remember, less is more!
Dermott Dowling is founding Director at Creatovate, an innovation and international business consultancy. Creatovate aims to help businesses create innovate and grow through innovation and spreading their wings outside their home base.