Simplicity is at the heart of some of the world’s most successful innovations. To some, simplicity is the concept of reducing complex concepts into simple messages, processes, services, or products. It’s essentially about going back to the basics and finding meaning.
But, how can simplicity be used to foster innovation and create meaning for people in the workplace?
The Breakdown of Simplicity
Simplicity is a term that has a lot of different connotations. Big Think expert, management consultant, and futurist Lisa Bodell is a staunch promoter of simplicity; but, she has specific thoughts about it.
In one of her other Big Think videos, Bodell breaks down what she considers the four components of simplicity in communications:
- Be as Minimal as Possible: Get rid of unnecessary elements. Why complicate things when something is simple or straightforward will do?
- Be as Understandable as Possible: Streamline messages to create meaning and provide greater clarity. You can shorten meetings by focusing on only what needs to be addressed and eliminate extraneous conversations.
- Be as Repeatable as Possible: Focus less on customization to implement more best practices. Share your experiences across the board with others so everyone is on the same page.
- Be as Accessible as Possible: Increasing transparency increases accessibility and makes situations less complicated. Be upfront and make your information available to others.
It’s no secret that simple and effective communication is integral to successful businesses. Bodell says that when many professionals have fewer emails and meetings, it can have a positive effect:
“I think that getting to work that is simpler and eliminating those complexities or mundane tasks are not just going to make people more productive at work but they’re going to be more satisfied, they’re going to have a sense of purpose and our businesses, the results that we have there, are going to be dramatically better because of it.”
Apple Went Back to the Basics to Embrace Innovative Simplicity
Big Think expert and former Apple creative director Ken Segall says that when companies offer too many choices when selling products or services, the lack of simplicity can inadvertently stifle customers’ enthusiasm and engagement rather than increase it.
Segall, the mastermind behind the lowercase-i in Apple’s product line (iMac, iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc.), says that simplicity should permeate all aspects of the company — with a particular focus on simplifying the customer experience — and that Apple’s historical limitation of products helped rather than hindered the company’s success, creating loyal customers:
“You don’t want to dumb things down and you don’t want to get people to feel like they don’t have enough choice, but you want to give them the right choices as opposed to infinite choices. You want to make it easier for them; simpler… it’s actually a way of giving a customer more respect and demonstrating that you understand what drives them.”
Growth Mindsets Inspire to Learn and Think Outside the Box
People with growth mindsets are those who seek to learn and grow to better themselves. These are individuals who seek out challenges and believe that their knowledge, understanding, and skills can be increased through hard work and dedicated effort. They also tend to break things down into the simplest terms and try to be innovative.
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