I read an anecdote about Steve Jobs recently in The Entrepreneur here, which told about a bunch of smart designers from Apple who were working on the now defunct iDVD application that allowed users to transfer their digital content from their computer to a DVD with minimal steps, bypassing earlier methods that actually has a 1000-page user manual.

Expecting being praised by Jobs, the team completed their presentation. To their disbelief, Jobs walked up to the board and drew a rectangle and said that it’s a window where you drag and drop your video and press BURN. Simple. Jobs was an out and out simplistic person. But simplicity, for him, did not mean mediocrity but ease of living in the best possible way. That is why almost all Apple products have bare minimum buttons and controls but still manage to outperform competition.

In today’s world, simplicity is the key to success. Complexity may have been the hallmark of Victorian fashion and literature, food and traditions, but it cannot be so in today’s business world. The acronym KISS was very popular some years ago, that just spelled Keep It Simple Silly! We love to complicate things and also love something that is complex, simply because dealing with complexity gives us a sense of high that comes with achievement. But complexity is time-consuming and robs one of efficiency.

Too many levels for a recruit to report to, too many steps in a tax filing system, too many permissions before you start a business or too many layers to a person’s personality before you understand him, all make things difficult and elusive.

Long ago, I had a boss who loved to complicate things. He made it difficult for people to understand what he’s trying to say. More often, we would find ourselves thinking, what is he trying to tell me? Why doesn’t he just come to the point? So much of beating around the bush would happens before the actual point would finally and painfully come out. A lot of time would be wasted in meetings unnecessarily.

Simplicity is a virtue that is long cherished. Ancient philosophies like Zen, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Stoicism are all based on leading a simple, uncomplicated life. There are many ways by which one can instill a sense of simplicity in one’s life. Read more....