In innovation, less is more
IN INNOVATION LESS IS MORE, SIMPLICITY IS CREATIVITY
Pure Creativity, without Instruction Manuals
When we started developing our B2B2C (Business to Business to Consumer) website at ideas4all Innovation Agora, where we wanted to include all of our ideas, our dreams of multiple and varied functions, all the complexity of our analysis, what we believed the client and final user wanted… we realized, thanks primarily to the perseverance of Echeva, one of our founding members, that we needed to simplify. So many functions would not be necessary, we needed to get rid of anything that was superfluous, remove and subtract again and again until we arrived at the essence. We decided to remove rather than add, following the example of the most popular social networks that work with what is elementary and are friendly, collaborative, offer quick access and are simple to use.
We persisted in our efforts until we had reduced our website to its minimal expression, fulfilling the basic objectives of the collaborative process that is democratic and involves crowdsourcing as well as the generation of ideas that are shared and valued by a community. Where talent is identified and becomes a catalyst for change towards improved innovation in Business, Institutions, Education and Administration. Despite all this, some clients–at first–asked us to include other functionalities.
To all, we said the same:
“Try it as it is first, if in six months’ time you still believe you need what you are asking for, we’ll add it on”
And, generally, they tell us we’re right. Because, at the end of the day, participation among their teams increases many-fold compared to the initial figures and they achieve their desired goals almost instantly, as they reap many good ideas from the collective process.
Take Apple’s success, for example. Despite not achieving the universal status of other operating systems, its simplicity, aesthetics, beauty, its user-friendliness, give it a very important group of followers that are prepared to buy and pay higher-than-average price compared to other similar products in the market, precisely because of that beauty, that simplicity which, at heart, is pure, concentrated creativity. And that’s the kind of creativity people truly value. Pure creativity is a pleasure for our senses; it works intuitively and does not need an instruction manual.
By applying this concept of less is more, and thanks to their collaborative work and open innovation, the iPhone and iPad have made it to the market in record-breaking speed. Our Pearl of Innovation for the month of April goes to Apple.
The concept of less is more is not new, however. Minimalism has come and gone throughout history. It´s most formal expression was the Minimalist Manifesto in the 30′s, with German Architect Mies Van De Rohe leading the Bauhaus School (we shall speak of him again in the future). He spoke of clarity, simplicity and purity of forms, and their applications in design, art and life. I have always been surprised by the word clarity, clean. I believe today I have come to understand it.
The great musician Charles Mingus say,
Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.
There is a substantial recent bibliography on the subject. Worth highlighting is Jason Jennings´s “Less is More” from 2003 or
“How Great Companies Use Productivity As a Competitive Tool in Business”, followed by Think Big act small in 2005. Another work from 2008 with a “Less is More” theme is Peter Walsh ’s It’s all too much. At the end of your life, the things you own end up owning you, and you lose control. It is preferable to have less and be able to control it. Having more can be more suffocating than liberating. A few days ago, I heard on TV that, with the recession, 18% less waste was collected in 2011 than in 2010. This is a clear indicator of excess without a real need. The recession has made us think that the end of this consumption orgy we were immersed in, living beyond our dreams, is not a bad thing. Businesses, Public Administration, institutions in general, have come to pretty much the same conclusion.
We need to clean things up. Let’s avoid the Diogenes Syndrome that drives us to keep everything, to hold onto a copy of everything, because if we don’t, we feel like it isn’t ours. This is something that will come to an end with the acceptance of the cloud and its tremendous and viral capacity. It will be lying there for whenever we need it. This is why ideas4all Innovation Agora is in the cloud as a SaaS. Whenever you need it, it will be there for you, at the service of ideas and innovation.
Y lo dejo aquí para que sirva de reflexión en nuestro entorno laboral, personal, y ciudadano
Ana María Llopis