When Less is Best


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Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

~ Steve Jobs

Steve did Simple better than anyone – ever. I had the chance to yet again appreciate his creative genius thanks to this killer article about Steve’s drive to simplicity at Apple last week. When he returned to lead the company the 2nd time around – Apple had a product roadmap that was a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” kinda strategy. One look at the graphics in the article reminded of me how bad it was. There were too many variations and not a lot of leverage.

With a strong and relentless focus on simplicity – in every aspect of what we know to be Apple – Steve created, and then recreated, the Apple brand of SIMPLE. His is a work of art.

But Complex is Cool!

We tend to equate complexity with value. We’re programmed that “more” brings “value”. Think about it:

  • We get caught up in the lure of the complex – we can attract customers with whizbang product features that will just keep on coming forever after. We create more complexity for ourselves – and our buyers, who really wanted simple.
  • We focus more and more on the competition – matching every feature tit for tat in a never ending feature war. We build feature-rich products that increase customer complexity and cost, assuming they want more. But do we ever ask.. Do our customers really want – or need more?
  • We rush to serve more markets than ever before, knowing that one (or maybe more of those markets) will become our profit driver. We lose our distinction as we try to chase everything that moves in our grasp for more more more.
  • We begin to drink our own KoolAid, focusing on delivering more and bigger innovation. We get so focused on delivering the next cool thing – we forget to focus on our customers.

It’s easy to fall under the spell. Yet complex rarely sells. Simple Sells.

Buyers want simple – not complicated. That doesn’t mean that’s what’s under the hood has to be simple – we can deliver those complex and sophisticated capabilities if we want. But our delivery to our customers, everything they see and touch, must be simple and straightforward.

How do we simplify? Here are three steps that will get you to simple.

1. Streamline that SuperSize. As we discussed above – we have this idea that “more” and “complexity” equates to “Value”. Wrong.

Instead of getting into the race for the most possible capabilities or features – how about focusing on the least possible features to deliver exactly what your customers need? That’s right – challenge yourself to focus only on what your customers need and what you do well. Know your customers and leave the bells and whistles to the other guys.

2. Match Packages to Markets. Have you ever tried to buy a product online and thought WTF as a long list of “packages” and “options” unfolded. There’s choice and then there’s ridiculous. The only reason we vendors need all those packages and options is because we haven’t taken the time to understand what our diverse markets really want. We take the easy way out and throw a bunch of options at our buyers – expecting them to decipher what they want from our mash of features.

Matching our packaging to specific markets is the fast track to simplicity. Instead of throwing everything against the wall – gather your market knowledge, think like your buyers and build what they need. Simply.

3. Stop the Babble. We’re experts in our business field. That’s a given. But with expertise comes a greater risk of complexity – because we know our subject matter so well. We understand our offerings, the intricacies about them. We’re proud to share those details with one and all. The more complex – the more impressive we sound, right? WRONG!

Our babble begets complexity – and complexity begets confusion. You may understand it all – but your buyers just plain don’t. Simplify your stories. The simpler, the better. I know – that sounds like heresy in markets that thrive on complexity. But the reality is that Simple Sells and Complexity Confuses. So go with Simple!

It’s great to want to be expansive in our businesses. That’s how we become market leaders.

True market leaders do anything and everything they can to mask their complexity from their buyers.

Forget the complexity – they know that less is best….

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rebel Brown
Rebel Brown consistently challenges the status quo to deliver optimum solutions and high velocity growth for her clients. She combines the strategic expertise and tactical savvy of a global Corporate Strategy, Launch and Turnaround Expert, along with the leadership and motivational skills needed to get the job done.


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