Keeping it complicated

I think many have mastered the complicated – a double-talking political candidate, a call center telephone menu system that has you pushing more buttons than a spirited game of Guitar Hero, companies trying to be all things to all people (and doing none of them well), and tax laws that befuddle and confuse.

I think complicated is the default setting for many. On the other hand, simplicity tells a powerful story to those tuned in to hear it:

Pinkberry and Woot! limit the stuff they sale. Build-A-Bear has a simplified store layout that tells a story. Apple makes their stuff easy to use.

Simple can be very hard to create and especially hard to maintain. But when it is done right, it just feels natural.

My questions to you:
Can you think of any other examples of simplicity (or being overly complicated)? Why is simple so hard? What can we do to maintain simplicity in all we do?

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5 Responses

  1. Method. Simple, responsible products.

    The biggest reason I think we are led into complexity is that we tend to make decisions based on what we can do, or what we see others doing. Just because you can, or see others doing something isn’t a reason to jump on board. In fact, it may be an excellent reason not to do it that way.

  2. Chris,

    Great thoughts here. So, is you contention that we complicate things more by actually seeing less of the market and the way to simplify things is to have a greater vision of the market (specifically the outer edges) and the possibilities?

    Very interesting. Less market vision = complexity, More market vision = simplicity.

    If this is what you are saying, any examples?

    What does anyone else think?

  3. It also comes down to having an understanding what you are good at. If you don’t know what you are good at then you tend to try and do everything. And when you try to do everything, you become lukewarm all-around good at a lot of things, but an expert in nothing.

    Everything = Complexity

    Focused Expert = Simplicity

    (I like these types of equations)

  4. I’ve just been introduced to Woot.com myself, and the business model fascinates me. Being local here in the Dallas area, I stopped by a few weeks ago, peddling my product, of course, but also just curious as to what went on at that place.

    To freshpeel’s point, these guys know what they’re good at (and what they’re not). They hang their hat on electronics, cuz they were an electronics wholesaler way before there was Woot.com. And if they were to ever carry a product for a week, the whole model would collapse because they would be seen as a competitor for too many retailers. Instead, they are everyone’s favorite guilty, curious pleasure.

  5. Brett,

    Thanks for the peek inside Woot! I’ve used them on more than one occasion while out there speaking.

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