Making it easier to do great work. Hacking all things stupid.

5 Ways to Simplify Anything

It’s your superpower in a world gone crazy, complex, caca!

For over two decades, I’ve consulted and coached and spoken to hundreds
of thousands of people, making things simpler for them. Here are five
ways that you, too, can be Mr. or Ms. Simplicity…

Practice Disciplined Empathy and Common Sense

Simplicity is based on very basic human needs: Could this app be made
easier to use? Could this medicine container be made easier to
open and easier to read and understand? Can making a bank deposit be
made easier? The first step to making most anything simpler is to
walk a mile in the user’s/audience’s/customer’s shoes. And, as part
of that, focus on the basics. Making most things simpler isn’t
about solving world hunger. It’s about making each small step in
the process easier.

Ask Just One Question

Steve Jobs was correct in his belief that customers can’t tell
you what they want when it relates to innovations such as the first
iPod or iPhone or iPad. But most complexities people encounter
can be addressed by simplifying something that already exists.
Ask your user/audience/customer just one question — “How can we
make this easier for you?”
— and you will quickly learn what
simplicity looks like.

Always Start with Time Poverty and Attention Deficit Disorder

Yes, there are bigger, more systemic, more entrenched problems
that need simplification. But if you focus on saving people time
and on capturing and using their attention wisely, you will never
go wrong. These are among the top two challenges that will always
benefit from simplification efforts.

Always Give the User More Control

The more control that the user/audience/customer has over using
your product or service, the simpler it will be for them. (Assuming
you have diligently practiced Steps 1 and 2!)

Joy and Great Experiences Trump Pain Reduction

Listen carefully to the responses you get in Step 2. Most people
will describe simplicity in terms of pain reduction. e.g., “This
medicine bottle cap is too hard to open.” or “I hate how long it
takes to download this.” Your job is to push past that because,
in the end, while people describe simplicity in terms of things
they want to reduce or get rid of… Growth in sales and reputation
is almost always based on the thrill of simplicity! Something that
truly excites!

Communication Tools: Speed-Freak Clarity
How to Delete 75% of Your Emails
The Ultimate Ten-Page Presentation
Ten Simple Truths
Jensen research, sponsored by SAP:
Building Simpler Corporate Cultures

The resources above are all free.

The following Fastpak resources require a small fee:
Managing Your Manager
How to Say No and Get Ahead
How to Work Smarter by Asking the Right Questions
Easy Ways to Build the Courage You Need to Work Smarter
Leading Simply: New Basis
Strategic Plan on One Page

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