May 12, 2015

New Releases: The Simplicity Cycle

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 7:30 AM – Filed under: Innovation & Creativity, Leadership & Strategy


From award-winning engineer, military technology expert, and author of F.I.R.E., Dan Ward provides readers with a roadmap for designing winning new products, services, and business models and shows them how to avoid complexity-related pitfalls in the process. The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide to Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse (on sale May 12, 2015) is a simple book about a complex topic, but don’t be fooled. Beneath the simplicity lies a deep and profound message. Complexity is often necessary, but unnecessary complexity complicates our lives. This book provides the secret to striking the proper balance.

We all create new things, every day. Whether composing an email, cooking a meal, or constructing the Mars Rover, making things is part of being human. The Simplicity Cycle shines a light on how complexity affects the things we make for good or ill, taking us on a journey through the process of making things, with a particular focus on identifying and avoiding complexity-related pitfalls.

Ward explains how the standard development process involves increasing complexity to increase the outcome (after all, a system with zero complexity does nothing). The problem comes when the complexity starts getting in the way, but we often don’t know where that point is until we pass it. Ward suggests a number of techniques, from removing components and testing the system without them, to reconceptionalizing important aspects of the system. They may sound simple, but are often bitterly rejected by those who think complexity and quality are one in the same. Lucidly and effortlessly, Ward shows us how we can make things that are simple, elegant, and effective.

With bright, accessible prose, and his trademark mix of examples from research, personal experience, and pop culture, Dan Ward offers a universal concept, visually described with a single, evolving diagram (a simple one of course!). The Simplicity Cycle is a quick and easy read meant to simplify our lives as we turn its pages. With its technical foundation, it will appeal directly to business leaders, engineers, computer programmers, and other technologists, but its concept is applicable to everyday life, offering an easy-to-grasp notion for simplifying and improving whatever we do, whether we work in an office, at home with the kids, or at the Pentagon.


Dan Ward is the author of F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation. He is a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force with three engineering degrees and two decades of experience researching, developing, and fielding military equipment. His previous assignments include the Air Force Research Lab, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, and International Security Assistance Force Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 2012 he received the Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.


About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books, and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.