I have a passion for simplicity; I enjoy the simple things in life.
All of my passions come down to simplicity and perhaps that’s because I am really good at ‘simple’.
Please do not mistake this for lazy – I believe a lot of progress in the world has come from people that want to find an easier way.
It speaks volumes that I stumbled upon a career into which I could inject simplicity.
Business has become incredibly complex. We have gone from signing ‘fag packet’ deals in the pub to an extremely rigid and complex process that, as suggested in Pippa’s very honest article, has become so unbalanced it doesn’t seem fair!
The world is changing
We live in a crazy world with people on YouTube unpacking toys and making millions (for anyone who is interested; around £1,200 per million views). And we all know that LinkedIn is full of ‘influencers’ that don’t seem to say much and many intelligent people seemingly aspiring to be like those influencers (people who respond to Oleg).
Then there are the industry disrupters with billion-pound valuations but are yet to make a profit.
And although I don’t think we should blindly follow these fresh-faced disruptors down a potential blackhole (Theranos), we can all learn from how they attack problems in a completely different way to traditional businesses; they look for the simplicity and the convenience human’s desire, and design around this.
Blink and you’ll miss it
The way we should approach campaigns, whether that be sales, bid or marketing, is to cut through the complexity and get to simple quickly.
I used to call it “take it to the pub”. If we had ten minutes over a drink with the ultimate decision-maker how would we either get them to make a commitment or stay for another drink.
The reason I say “used to” is that ten minutes is now a luxury. We have to be even quicker in engaging people and getting to the point. For example, when presented with a concept for a Facebook video ad, (which I had penned and thought was awesome) our head of digital said “Si, we have 0.4 seconds to get peoples attention and stop them scrolling, the brain recognises an image in 0.13 seconds, you need to stop people scrolling … start again” .
Like I said, it’s a crazy world and we must adapt. Make sure your presentations or bid design captures your value proposition or differentiators in under a second. These differentiators can be found in the strangest places.
Pizza Express bar staff used to chop the lemons for drinks (prep area, chop, clean) – across 500 stores this was a costly exercise! One day a Chef said “Why don’t we do that? We do the chopping, you do the pouring?”.
The CEO said “just by changing who chops the lemons, we were able to make a significant saving in hours which translated into a significant financial saving”.
Our conscious brains overcomplicate things. We can’t help but overthink and try to be clever. Trust your gut to deliver simplicity. The simplest change can be the competitive difference you need to win.
Keeping it real
Airbnb experienced the common startup struggle of making their business idea relevant (problem to solution fit)
They found a simple solution which Co-founder Joe Gebbia explained “We used to travel and actually stay with our customers … it was the ultimate enlightened empathy – you were so close to the people you were designing for that it informed you in a way that an online survey never would. So by being so close to our customers we were able to listen to their needs and then design a product that they loved.”
By living your ideas and making them real you avoid becoming overly intellectual and keep things grounded in the practical.
Keep it sweet
In the words of the mighty Steve Jobs, “Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”
It is easy to get carried away. People try to add too much and create too many product features in a bid to differentiate and hit everyone’s hot buttons. This ends up creating complex value propositions that customers can’t understand.
Steve Jobs also said “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it is worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Businesses are self-complicating systems that constantly add extra levels of process and systems. In a complex working environment creativity and innovation get stifled. You need to think like a start-up, embrace simplicity and see the power that creates.