This graphic cought my eye. It was on Linked-in. No-one doubts the value of keeping things simple, but simplicity is; paradoxically, hard to achieve. One might venture to say simplicity is “complex”. Keeping our messages simple and clear is a challenge we all face daily. Be it a sales message, creative pitch, reporting to the boss – messaging is hard. Should there exist a (complex) system for simplifying messaging? I say YES! And it should not be that complex…..maybe a little. We shall see.
“Simplicity is Complex”Me, just now.
1- The Hedgehog Knows One Thing
“The Fox has many plans, the Hedgehog has but one – but one that works every time.” That is the point the author James C. Collins makes in his book: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and other do not.
Thus, in getting your message across, think like a hedgehog. Lead the conversation with what is proven to work. This is great for elevator pitches. Adding a great hook to your Hedgehog strategy work fantastically. For instance, I like saying: It’s like UBER for hairdressers. Or Netflix for E-Learning. 99% of the time the concept is much more nuance, but people instantly get it when you say it like that.
2- The Mouse Trap Principle
The mouse trap demonstrate a concept in engineering called: the principle of irreducible complexity. If you take any part away from the mouse trap it will seize to work. Sure, you say, there is allot of parts in a car that is perfectly redundant. Correct, but redundancy should not be confused with irreducible complexity. In a car, all the parts, even the parts that the car can function without, are compartmentalized into ‘systems’. Independent or interdependent systems with the engine-transmission being an example of the latter and the automatic windows an example of the former. But even these system can benefit tremendously from this principal of irreducible complexity and so should your messaging.
Let me break it down for you…
…You got to break it down. Your messaging. Truncate the Capitol T out of it! Lead with what works = the hedgehog. In other words, proven strategy. Then reduce the complexity to where the message or idea still make sense = Mousetrap. This last bit of advice is on the house: If you send an email in which you have a series of questions, don’t. Resist the urge! Emails are not for answering a plurality of questions. One topic per email is a winning strategy. You will spare the reader and yourself allot of frustration. Thinking in terms of single topic emails will also help you whittle it down to what is priority and what is minutia.
I remembered this legend from the early days of e-commerce. How Zappos, I Las Vegas online shoe store, paid new recruits not to work for them. This was a sifting strategy to make sure only the lifers sticks around the the giggers move along. Here are some of the article…
I spend a lot of time visiting with companies and figuring out what ideas they represent and what lessons we can learn from them. I usually leave these visits underwhelmed. There are plenty of companies with a hot product, a hip style, or a fast-rising stock price that are, essentially, one-trick ponies – they deliver great short-term results, but they don’t stand for anything big or important for the long term. Read more….