Our Culture Series explores the guiding principles reflected in our company.
Today’s focus is on the value of Simplicity, because I firmly believe simplicity influences impact.
Einstein is quoted as saying, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Ironically, this simple statement has a lot of meaning. What I love is, in one short sentence, Einstein captures the reality that anything either too complex or too simple for its purpose does not maximize impact.
For example: In marketing, a simple message can have greater impact than a detailed technical explanation, but if too simple, it likely will not trigger an action from the consumer.
In sales, a proposal that clearly and concisely presents the recommended path, ROI, and business model has a greater likelihood of being understood and accepted. However, a proposal that is too light for a given situation will not be considered a viable option.
The same goes for system design and coding. Over-engineering a solution can result in a lack of maintainability and create a troubleshooting challenge, but an inadequate design can also reduce extensibility and ultimately not meet the business purpose.
Even internal systems and processes follow this rule. Overly complex processes create frustration and slow down an organization, but overly simple processes result in many things falling through the cracks.
The key is to know the full problem being solved, not just the superficial stated problem. In other words, we need to deeply understand the why and then design a right-sized solution — whether that is a proposal, a software design, or an internal process — to meet the full objectives.
A Recent Example
A recent example of when we missed the mark on this core value is the development of a portal reporting solution for a client. The solution worked well, but the design was very abstract. This created flexibility but it was also very complex.
We nailed most of the objectives of the project, but we missed a big one: the customer wanted to have their people maintain the solution going forward. What we delivered was too complex for their team. A more simplistic solution would have had a greater impact.
Digging deep to learn the why’s is one of the most important things we can do to maximize positive impact for ourselves and our customers/clients. Once we fully understand the short and longterm objectives, then it’s possible to design a solution that’s as simplistic as possible (but no more so).
President & CEO