The Art of Simplicity

You’ve probably heard of the old adage “Keep It Simple Stupid.” Commonly known as the KISS principle, this timeless piece of advice suggests that, in most cases, the simplest solution is the best. When you think about it, this makes sense. The more complicated an idea is – the more moving parts it has – the more likely something will go wrong.

This is a concept most commonly voiced in engineering and manufacturing circles. Machines with more moving parts have more potential points of failure. Software loaded with bells and whistles often has more bugs in it than code focused on a few core features. As a result, we constantly have to juggle patches and updates to shore up the short-comings inherent in complicated products and processes.

I believe the idea of simplicity has a lot of relevance in the world of organizational management as well. As leaders, it’s very easy to over-complicate things for those looking to us for direction.

In my experience, leaders tend to fail when they try to achieve too much at one time. You’ll be far more effective when you break complex ideas into simple, easy-to-digest parts.

If you want to communicate effectively, keep the message simple.

If you want employees to learn, keep instructions simple.

If you want your team to perform, keep goals simple.

If you want customers to respond, keep the value proposition simple.

I’m a talker by nature and by trade. I often have a great deal of information to share, and could probably write a book about any given subject when all that’s needed is a couple of short sentences. I’ve found that I’m much more effective as a speaker, leader, and consultant when I keep things simple.

In fact, I’m having to resist writing too much right now on the subject of simplicity. So I’ll sum things up with a few simple questions.

What part of your business could use simplifying?

How can you simplify things for your employees or your customers?

And what steps will you take today to incorporate the KISS principle into your day-to-day activities?

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