It’s no secret that the shortest distance from A to B is a straight line, and that’s because it’s simple. However, when designing a new product or process, the tendency is to create complexity in the design. This isn’t intentional as no one needs a more complicated life, but nonetheless in striving for greatness, complexity still happens. The opportunity is to design the product or process to be simple, reproducible and repeatable, and remove any unnecessary complexity.

Take for example a company selling a product online. If your checkout process is full of multiple steps, is hard to navigate and takes you to several external websites, you will undoubtedly lose potential customers. The challenge is to look at the product or process from the end user’s point of view and ask yourself “How can I make this simple?” and “What am I doing to simplify this?”

Another example that may hit home for many of us is the new purchase of any recent technology. Todays smart phones for instance have more processing power than the computers that were used to put the first man on the moon. What an incredibly complex piece of technology – but not for the end user. The phone is designed to come right out of the box, be turned on and used within minutes. There is no need to sift through a thick manual or take a training class. The technology is designed to be simple to use. The same goes for a TV or laptop because these are designed to be simple and easy for the consumer to use and to simply turn it on and start using it. No complexity added.

Why should you fight for simplicity? Because simplicity is the answer. It ensures that your end user is satisfied and will come back for additional products and services. If you don’t fight for simplicity and you allow complexity to creep in to your design, the risk is too great. When something is complex and difficult, rarely will a customer return. Think of a time when you attempted to order a product and you could not get through a long, automated phone system. You likely just ended the call in frustration. How about when you are trying to get an appointment with a service provider who is always booked and makes getting a hold of them difficult. You will likely move on to another equally good provider of the same service that has made making appointments quick and easy.

The question now is how do you get to that point of simplicity? Anytime you are designing something new, or redesigning a product or process, try using a methodology like Design for Six Sigma which can help ensure you are eliminating complexity and striving for simplicity right from the start.


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