Category: Simplicity

How we get to ‘Simple’

Albert Einstein
Time to read: 3 mins
We all know when we have experienced something that is simple.  Being a fan of video games, the best example that best resonates with me is that of the Nintendo Wii.
Remember the Nintendo Wii?
I have fond memories of the Nintendo Wii.  The way the sensor bar balanced on top of my parents old CRT TV.  The two plastic surfaces seemed to continually slip and never stay still.  It reminded me of when I was learning to skate for the first time.  With no grip underneath my feet, I thought “If I just stop moving, maybe I would stop sliding across the ice ever so slowly”
I also remember the Wii remote.  I held it comfortably with one hand.  Looking at the D-pad it gave an assurance that this was still a game controller. The A button was big and pronounced. It was just begging to be pressed.
Even though it was a new way to play, the Wii mote felt familiar.  You could point the controller at the tv just like a TV remote.  If you were playing tennis, boxing or bowling you would just mimic the same movements with  the controller.  It was a device that was easy to use and understand.
It was simple.
The Nintendo Wii went on to sell over 101 million units.
Faux Simplicity
When something is simple it gives you a sense of confidence, comfort and familiarity because we understand what we are experiencing.
Too often we see companies marketing their products/services as ‘simple’ only to find out that the complexity still exists after we have made a commitment.  Exception, caveats and clauses are hidden within the fine print which is difficult to read and understand. By the time we decide that it’s all too complicated, it is often too late and we are bound by an agreement that we don’t quiet understand.
Faux Simplicity is the term that is used to describe the above scenario.  It’s a common bait and hook strategy.   When it goes bad it leads to distrust and a level of pessimism from our users.  I recently had someone try to sell me with the opening line of: “It’s so easy”.  As a astute customer I immediately looked for the exception, caveats and clauses that I mentioned earlier.
Why Complexity exists
Complexity exists for many reason.  A lawyer will say that it is a necessity to protect themselves from a legal standpoint.  Some say to give total transparency we must provide ‘all’ of the details.  And so lengthy documents are created.  Words and terms that are used in specific domains perniciously leaks into public conversation.
Implementing ‘Simple’ requires a significant amount effort but there is a process that we all can follow to get us there.
Empathy describes our ability to put ourselves in the users / customer’s shoes.  In particular, it’s important to think about the emotional states, circumstances and needs of the customer.
After you clearly understand a users circumstances and needs we can move onto the next step.
Distilling involves customising, curating and editing your product or service to meet your customers expectation.  Distilling more often that not means saying ‘no’ to additions features and reducing options and choices in order to not overwhelm the customer.
At the end of the distilling process, you will have what the user needs.  The final step is to clarify your offering.
Clarity is the process of making your offering easier to understand use and consume.  In a time of information overload the way we organise, emphasise and design information is key for customer to be able to comprehend and ultimately consume what your are offering.
Striving for simple 
The formula for simple is simple:  Empathy + Distill + Clarity = Simple
And a quote from Albert Einstien…
Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler
The concepts here can be found in Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn book titled Simple – Conquering the crisis of complexity.