Is there Anything Simple About Simplicity?

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Easy” is a temptation.

I work with many clients who take the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach to their digital and social media marketing, because “How hard could it be? It’s just Facebook??!” Besides, they each have a business to run, customers to satisfy and entice, meetings to attend and maybe even employees to work with.

After spending time with each of them to discern their business and marketing goals, I begin to walk them through some of the opportunities and challenges they face and the different ways to optimize and engage, based on the goals and resources available. As we begin to dig into the strategy and planning, each of these business people begin to see the advantages of “doing it right” and where their current process might be falling short, hurting their business.

My first job of demonstrating the difference between simplistic and simplicity is taking hold in their minds. They still have a business to run, but realize, for example, that getting “their daughter’s high school boyfriend” to manage their online marketing, brand voice and strategy may not have been a good choice.  They need an expert to figure this out with them.

In a recent article entitled Simplicity ≠ Simplistic, Amy Bhattacharyya writes about 4 Laws of Simplicity:

  • The First Law: The opposite of Simplicity is not Complexity but Confusion. I have defined this in my own professional life as “Creating or Enabling Order from Chaos.” In a chaotic environment, it is usually difficult to figure out exactly the best place to start, since everything looks like a mess. There are many methods, each depending on a number of variables and requirements, but I find that starting in the “area in your immediate vicinity” (right where you are….with yourself, for example!) and starting incrementally can be a great way to establish a foundation wins and discover dependencies, maybe even avoiding some of the “unavoidable consequences” that bigger, showier moves might trigger. The way to simplicity from chaos sometimes shows it self over several of these iterations. If not, keep building out and making the area around your more stable and stronger.
  • The Second Law: The path to Simplicity is through Complexity. You must work through it, and some times things will get more complex before they begin to simplify. Having a vision of what the final process, solution or goal looks and acts like can help you here, if only to allow you to look past the work of getting there toward to satisfaction and affect (business, professional and personal) this process will have.
  • The Third Law: Complexity is never eliminated but can only be reduced or concealed. I am fortunate to live the the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I look out on a wooded, pretty chaotic looking space from my office. The life represented there for me is chaotic, but ordered in its own organic way. I could hire a number of contractors to force the space into more of an orderly presentation of nature that may or may not be aesthetically pleasing and sustainable, but I like the idea that the growth and activity…the complexity, if you will…there is much better suited for its own health than anything I could come up with.
  • The Fourth Law: Simplicity is achieved by finding the right balance between usability and usefulness. This is a tricky balance, but worth the effort. In her article, Amy quotes Albert Einstein, “Things must be made as simple as possible – but never simpler.” In my years working for Microsoft I was privileged (although it didn’t feel like it at the time…) to work through a number of internal deployments of “dog-food” software. The company felt it was much better that some select employees work through usability and User Experience (UX) trials than put customers through it! Finding that balance, whether it is in a service, a product, a process, a business model, or just figuring out the most effective way to get from Point A to Point B, is a constant negotiation with reality and feelings.
Is this “Simple” Easy? Maybe.
Is getting to “Simple” Easy? No.
Is getting to “Simple” worth it. Yes.

How are you trying to get to “Simple”?

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