“Human nature has a tendency to admire complexity but reward simplicity.” — Ben Huh
K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s a harsh and curt acronym, but at the same time, it’s elegant in both its candor and its simplicity. Much of what we do in life is problem solving. In the domains of my professional experience; Information Technology, Business Analysis, and Management, problem solving (or as I call it; “Opportunity Management”) is essentially the bulk of my curriculum vitae.
In the process of problem solving, we humans often devise complex schemes to work around issues. I have personally created solutions that would cause Rube Goldberg to scratch his head. In the process of analysis, it’s easy for a creative mind to get carried away with design. Experience and success (and more importantly, failure) have afforded me with the wisdom that the simplest solution is usually the best one.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve collected a few tips for helping to keep it simple:
- Thoroughly document the problem and the solution: by creating a textual and/or visual representation, it becomes easier to spot complexity and flaws.
- Assume a User/Customer perspective: changing mode from solution architect to end-user allows you to see the problem and the solution from a completely different angle.
- Build in a feedback loop: make certain that the testers and users have the ability to easily provide comments and suggestions from the very beginning. Extend this to mechanisms for improving your solution in near real-time if possible.
- Solicit peer review: ask subject matter experts to review your design. If they have many questions, it’s likely not simple enough.
Simplicity in design aids in decision-making, speeds up delivery, provides scalability, and ensures usability. Regardless of the problem, keeping the solution simple typically delivers the best and fastest results.
What do you think? Do you have any tips for keeping things simple?