KISS - the Clever Way to Run a Business
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I learnt about KISS (Keep It Short & Simple) when I was doing my postgraduate degree course, but found later that it’s not practiced in the real life.
As humans, we love to complicate things, after all, simple is boring. From childhood, we are taught that the more complicated stuff we solve the more intelligent we are perceived to be.
Simple is Boring
At work place, we always admire the employees who work long hours and weekends with the belief that they are working better and are more sincere. On the business front, the more complicated our products or services, the more challenging and exciting. For when we are telling our entrepreneurial stories to others, you are not respected when you say that things are simple. It has to be made exciting and complicated so that others are in awe of us.
Simple Solutions Lead to Fast Decisions
And this is why sometimes simple issues which crop up don’t get solved because we start from the presumption that every situation is complicated and will take time to solve. For if something is solved easily then how was it a problem in the first place.
I believe, the more simple rules and objectives the business is based on, chances of misinterpretation and things going wrong are less. Simpler solutions also help people make decisions faster, implement change faster and be flexible to their environment.
Following are the areas where as entrepreneurs we should keep the principles of simplicity in mind:
1. While outlining strategies and frameworks, keep it simple. We don’t need to create complex matrix structures which take eons for the employees and vendors to not only understand but also implement. Remember the business environment is uncertain and clients unpredictable, so our rules and terms must be flexible and nimble to adapt and adjust when required while keeping the focus on who we are.
2. Another important aspect of business where simplicity should be key is communication. People love to write long emails/notes using big words and sentences. More often than not, the actual message gets missed out and the recipient is busy reading and rereading the message to understand what is expected of him. Short and simple communication is clear and achieves the purpose be it internally or externally to clients.
3. Processes at every level need to be kept simple so that the employees not only understand what they are doing but also don’t get overwhelmed. A big process can be broken down into smaller processes so that employees learn and work faster. Complicated processes only serve to give a sense of superiority to those who have framed it.
4. MIS and key metrics have a way of getting so complicated and cumbersome over time to report that I have seen people working on them every weekend without really understanding the end purpose. Filling excel sheets take up more work time than actually working. At every level, to show self-importance people add more line items. Keep the MIS simple with the basics what is needed to understand what’s the business’s North Star.
5. Lastly, the vision and mission of the company are generally written in such a way that no one except who has created it understands. Remember that every word has a different meaning and connotation for different individuals and hence the long and complicated chances of misinterpretation increases. An example of a clear and simple mission statement, Google: “Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
However, simplicity has to be practised especially when you are not used to it. One has to work hard towards it, as it means that while drafting frameworks, strategies, processes, and reports our thinking is clear and what we wish to achieve/the outcome is known. It also means that we are not afraid to say as is.
As Winston Churchill, on taking the office of as Prime Minister at the start of WW 2 announced, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, sweat, and tears.” Just 11 words, but it conveyed all that he wanted to, the dark truth of the coming days.