Steve Jobs was a firm believer in keeping things simple. It has a lot more control over Life than you would imagine.
When a group of Apple's top product designers presented their concept for the iDVD—a now-defunct program that allowed users to burn music, videos, and digital picture files stored on their computers onto a physical DVD—they expected Steve Jobs to be blown away. They were proud of how they had simplified the original version of the software, which had required a thousand-page user manual. It had a beautiful, clean design, and although it had a variety of features and functions, they were proud of how they had streamlined the original version of the product, which had required a thousand-page user manual.
But, as the team soon discovered, Jobs had other plans. He took a step forward and traced a rectangle on the whiteboard. “Here's the latest application,” he said. It only has one window. Your video is dragged through the window. After that, you press the BURN button. That is everything there is to it. That's just what we're going to do.”
Simplicity reigns supreme among entrepreneurs. We aim to create items that are easy to use, programs that are easy to find, and web pages and apps that are easy to navigate, among other things. We've raised simplicity to an art form when it comes to the final product or the consumer experience.
And why is it that so much of what we do on a regular basis is still so complicated?
We've grown used to the sophistication of all systems in our lives to the point that we don't even consider it. Worse, we unintentionally contribute to it by seeking out more complicated solutions to problems that should be simple. We then search for new ways to make the complicated problem simple again, disappointed by the difficulty of those solutions.
We add layer upon layer of difficulty as this vicious cycle continues.
This is particularly true when scaling an enterprise, which always leads to an increase in complexity everywhere. Processes become inefficient. It takes more time and effort to coordinate inside and through teams. Work that was once easy becomes excruciatingly, unnecessarily complicated.
However, once we eliminate the needless layers of difficulty, the priority tasks that previously seemed impossible to complete become much more manageable. This is true in almost any situation, from developing and releasing a new product to entering a new market to leading a rapidly expanding team.
ruthless simplification is needed in order to actually get the important things done. Here are some pointers:
Begin with a zero.
I began at the beginning and asked myself, “What is the simplest way for someone to talk with me using this software?” I cut the process down to two simple steps once I had my response.
When confronted with a massively complex method or mission, our first instinct is to simplify it. But what if we approached it from the opposite direction, starting from scratch?
You'd be shocked how many seemingly difficult goals and activities can be accomplished in only a few steps. So start at zero and work your way down to the smallest number of moves.
Remove all the frills and gimmicks.
Then-CEO Lou Gerstner invited Nick Donofrio, one of IBM's executive leaders, to speak at a state-of-the-company meeting in a small but decisive moment in the company's legendary turnaround. Overhead projectors and graphics on transparencies known to IBMers as "foils" were the normal format for any significant IBM presentation at the time.
“Nick was on his second foil when I stepped to the table and turned off the projector as politely as I could in front of his team,” Gerstner remembers. I simply said, 'Let's just talk about your company,' after a long awkward silence.'
Most presentations are meant to achieve this goal: to "just talk about your business." So avoid the urge to add extra bells and whistles the next time you have to build a pitch deck, present sales figures, or issue a progress update. They are not only a source of diversion for you but also for your audience. That is why, in my presentations, I use six slides with a total of fewer than ten sentences.
You may have already removed the non-essential features from your product. Then apply the same principles to the methods, presentations, and everything else.
Maximize the Steps not Taken
We also strive to simplify our processes by removing unnecessary steps. Still, what if we just got rid of them?
Steps that aren't appropriate are just that: unnecessary. By getting rid of them, you can focus all of your attention on finishing the essential project. Completion is infinitely better than unnecessary measures that add little value in almost every domain.
“Simplicity—the art of optimizing the amount of work not done—is essential,” according to one of the Agile Manifesto's twelve principles. This means that the aim is to provide value to the consumer, and if this can be accomplished with less code and fewer features, then that is precisely what should be done.
Although this is referring to the software development process, it can be applied to any daily process. Whatever the ultimate target, keep in mind that the easiest moves are the ones you don't take.