Posted on 25th June 2012 by Ian Kynnersley -
Everyone loves simplicity. It's the heart of disruptive innovation.
If you're not the simplest solution, you're the target of one
This all raises a question. What do we mean by simple? And simple for who?
I often talk about Sidekick using simple technology to try to tackle difficult problems. We also bandy around the phrase "just enough technology" to describe the things we build. We run short, delivery focussed projects that aim to do just that; use just enough simple technology to try and address a problem.
It's the Lean approach to business and the Agile approach to building software. It's also the simplest way to get something made. But simple for who? Ultimately this is simple for us.
But isn't the important simplicity actually simplicity for the end user? And as anyone who's ever made anything knows, simplicity for the end user is one of the most difficult things to achieve.
The real killers though are the systems that make genuinely difficult, complex processes easy. I've got so used to using Heroku that I've almost forgotten the pain and fear involved in directly deploying website updates. The value in BankSimple, Square and FreeAgent is in making the dauntingly complex world of money simple enough for anyone to understand.
Solutions like this are defiantly not simple to make. They require an over-arching commitment to product simplicity that must inform every difficult decision when all the pressure is to take the simpler option for the team. They require an almost telepathic relationship between designers and developers. And they require the complete backing of those in charge of the money.
This is far from easy for a team with limited resources. You have to keep both forms of simplicity alive at all times and be prepared to sacrifice features. The only way to deliver genuine simplicity is if everyone commits to the idea that it is overwhelmingly your most powerful feature.