To Steve Jobs Simplicity was religion. It was a weapon. It is Core Value No. 1 that permeates every level of the organization. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other tech companies making it the most valuable company on earth. Simplicity in how Apple is structured, how it innovates, how it speaks to its customers.
People Prefer Simplicity. And as it becomes more rare, it also becomes more valuable
How to keep it Insanely Simple: The Steve Jobs’ Way
1. Think Brutal= Be brutally honest.
Just say what you have to say. Straight. No restraint. No partial truths, And hard reset between meetings. Make honesty the basis of all interactions. Being straight like that, everyone knows where exactly they stand. understanding what was done right, what was wrong, and what needs to be done. That clarity- propels organizations. Simplicity has a merciless side. Good enough isn’t enough. Submit only work that you believe 100% in. Every manager has to be a ruthless enforcer of high standards. Accept no Compromises, make no compromises. Be vigilant as honesty can be replaced by calculation and relationships can get ‘managed’ rather than nurtured.
2. Think Small=Work with a small group trustworthy of smart people
Simplicity’s best friend is Small groups of Smart People. Start small, keep them small. Everybody present in a meeting should be essential. Small Project teams with talented people given real responsibility- which drives them to deliver quality thinking. No Big Company behaviors. Apple is organized like a startup- the world’s biggest startup!
– The quality of work is inversely proportional to the no. of people involved in the project
– The quality of work increases in direct proportion to the degree of involvement of the ultimate decision maker. Not at the very end but on-going.
Simplicity is an all-or- none proposition. No picking & choosing allowed. Creativity came before process. Be the sworn enemy of idea-killing processes. When process is king, ideas will never be. Understand & appreciated the creative process- which, in certain ways, is the absence of process. Know that if you enable a small group of smart people, good things would happen. Be a cultivator, nurturer, hirer of creative people.
3. Think Minimal=Focus on one thing, one idea. Weather product or ad cut the crap, cut it down to the essence. When in doubt, subtract, ie. Minimize.
Focus is saying no to the 100 other good ideas that are there. You have to pick carefully. Customers demand & appreciate choice. It is the overdose that becomes confusing and hence damaging. Consumers appreciate a simple shopping experience. The faster & simpler you can make the buying experience, the more business you will do.
Being complicated is easy. It’s simplicity that requires serious work. For this, the organization must be willing to take a serious hard look at itself. And it never happens by itself. Simplicity needs a Champion
Minimizing can be a tremendously powerful tool- but often it requires great audacity. For good ideas to not get lost, minimize the processes thru which these ideas must travel
To capture the attention pick its most compelling aspect and present it in the most compelling way. People will always respond to a single idea expressed clearly.
4. Think Motion = Aim realistically high, have a plan and don’t give ‘enough’ time.
Simplicity never stands still. Put a small team of smarts to work on a plan and put the plan in motion. No time-outs allowed. Only when people are kept in constant motion do they stay focused with the right kind of intensity. Work isn’t supposed to be easy; it’s supposed to be gratifying- and keeping a team in motion is what gets you there. Progress is more important than process. His bottomline was that the ship had to be moving forward every day. If you weren’t helping, that’s when you get into trouble
5. Think Iconic = Find a conceptual image that actually captures the essence of your idea.
A single iconic image can be the most powerful form of communication. Like Einstein, Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King. The press ads just had a b&w portrait of an Apple ‘hero’, an Apple Logo & the words ‘Think Different’. Think different defines Apple .
6.Think Phrasal= Express an idea in simple words, simple sentences, simple name
Product naming is the ultimate exercise in Simplicity. It requires one to capture in a single word or two, the essence of a product or a company- or in some cases, create a personality for it. Human beings are naturally programmed to identify products by single words. Apple makes great use of Common Sense when it names products. It also aims for consistency (iMac/iPod/iPad/iPhone!)
7. Think Casual= Not formal, not slick but straight, to the point. Don’t Present: Converse
No slick presentations to Steve. He preferred straight talk and raw content. Brief & interactive presentations between a small group of smart people meeting in a casual atmosphere: Just simple conversations. Steve considered most meetings to be brainstorming sessions. He never asked the agency for a formal presentation- He just wanted the agency’s best thinking! The only formal presentations he made was when he was on stage unveiling a new Apple product.
8. Think Human = Allow your heart to have a say in the matter.
The genius of Apple is that it often sees human potential where other companies do not, and it has the design & engineering skill to bring its vision to life. Apple does not actually invent the idea from scratch. The concept may already exist but be missing only one thing: Simplicity. The curse of Simplicity it looks deceptively Simple. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. It took something that was inherently complicated and made it wonderfully simple. Simplicity is what makes people feel like they know you, understand you and ultimately trust you.
Apple doesn’t dilute its marketing plan by segments. At the end of the day it is about people: what stirs their imaginations, what keeps them satisfied, and what makes them smile.The customer has to get it in a second-’it has to improve our lives by an order of magnitude over what’s already available.
9. Think Skeptic= Be sceptical about the skeptics, the No-Sayers, the ‘experts’
Never take no for an answer. ‘F… the lawyers’ ‘Take advice, not orders’ . If somebody says ‘It can’t be done’, they mean ‘It can’t be done without extraordinary effort’
10. Think War= Use every available weapon; and the most effective: your passion
Simplicity allows people to focus on one thing. Conversely, focusing on one thing helps achieve Simplicity. Simplicity is the greatest business weapon of our time. Technologically, Apple has established itself as a master of miniaturization. Philosophically, it has established itself as a master of Simplicity. ‘When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions’
Simplicity is not the goal. It is the guiding light that can help a business achieve its goals. Simplicity is a concept. It’s a way of looking at every part of your job, the jobs of those around you, and the way your entire company operates. That involves taking a look at the processes that are in place and figuring out how to reduce them- not reinforce them.
Once you start seeing the world thru the lens of Simplicity, you will be astounded to know how many opportunities to improve the way the business works.