May 14, 2013
News & Opinion: Simple
When we talk about breakthrough simplicity, we mean an interaction that cuts through the clutter. This is a standard that should be applied to everything a company puts out into the world, from the product to the ads down to the smallest piece of correspondence: It should do its job quickly, clearly, simply. People just don't have the time or the interest to wade through corporate rhetoric and jargon to figure out what you're trying to tell them. Through clarity of thought and presentation, it's possible for a business to rise above the cacophony of today's marketplace.
This quote from the new book, Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn, is about as explanatory as it gets. Be it cleverness, verbosity, poor design, or perhaps even a company's own confusion with what its focus and purpose are, there's a lot of complexity in how some companies appear to the world. And it doesn't end there. Taking a step beyond the doors of many organizations and you'll possibly find many other layers of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and missed opportunity. Siegel and Etzkorn have spent decades helping business leaders and their companies edit out the unimportant stuff and communicate clearly - both in word and design - and the results were profound.
This book tells those stories: where the companies came from, what the change process was like, and what the results were. The irony is that the process in not necessarily easy. As the authors found, opinions, egos, and conversation often get in the way of simplicity. After all, the more communication, the better the understanding, right? According to the authors and their findings: Not at all. Through a process of empathizing, distilling, and clarifying, the authors explain how organizations can satisfy their leader's feelings and opinions and help their customers better understand and connect with them in more productive ways.
Here's another statement from the book to give you an idea of what's within:
Ideally, everything a company puts out there - from its products and services to its website to every letter or invoice sent to customers - should reflect its commitment to considering the customer's point of view. We're all looking for that in our interactions with organizations and companies - the sense that someone there is aware of us as human beings. This can be expressed in the most minor exchanges and in mundane forms of communication. From clear instruction manuals to statements and invoices that are easy to read and understand, there are many ways to signal to customers that you're a company that understands and respects them.
It's a fascinating read, clearly written and full of interesting stories and logic. It's as much about communication and design as it is about customer service and marketing. It's a book every business leader should read and adapt. In fact, any member of a team can implement ideas from the book into their respective role, improve their own process, and stand out within their team.
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.