Simplification is Innovation

March 20, 2008  

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, once said, “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add but when there is no longer anything to take away.”

This is a brilliant quote because it describes the challenge many innovators face.  Too often, new products are overly complex and end up “over-serving” their customers.   

My new computer with Vista and Office 2007 is a perfect example of that.  99% of the software’s functionality goes unused, yet these complexities slow down my computer and reduce ease of use.  Being able to do everything for everyone is not perfection.

Next time you are designing a process, a product, or a service, ask yourself, “What can I remove?” For most consumers, simplicity is more important than comprehensiveness (and complexity).

The concept of “taking away” is also a great time management technique.  In addition to your “to do” list, be sure to create a “don’t do” list.  Become masterful at killing products, eliminating non-value adding tasks, and removing old/pointless habits.

Or, as Michelangelo once said, “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

What are you doing that is imprisoning your perfection?

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4 Responses to “Simplification is Innovation”

  1. How Innovators Can Learn From Vegas Card Counters | Stephen Shapiro on Innovation, Creativity, Goals & Performance on March 21st, 2008 12:22 pm

    [...] Or as Clayton Christensen could call it, disruptive innovation.  If you can find a way of “dumbing down” your offering, you might find new and untapped sources of revenue. Quite often these products [...]

  2. My Website’s Signal to Noise Ratio | Stephen Shapiro on Innovation, Creativity, Goals & Performance on April 7th, 2008 7:02 am

    [...] Simplicity is the best innovation. [...]

  3. Making Your Products/Services Affordable and Accessible | Business Innovation Speaker and Consultant Stephen Shapiro on November 25th, 2008 6:10 pm

    [...] can offer a low-cost product/service? In an earlier blog entry, I quoted Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, who once said, “Perfection is [...]

  4. Simple Not Simplistic | Business Innovation Speaker and Consultant Stephen Shapiro on April 30th, 2009 2:11 pm

    [...] mentioned in a previous blog entry, I am a big believer that “Simplification is Innovation.”  Don’t confuse complexity with quality.  The greatest ideas are often the [...]