Complicating Simplicity

Posted on August 31, 2006  Comments (1)

Complicating simplicity:

Gah! Trying to read about the “Simplicity: The Art of Complexity” (er, what?) conference. But the description at the conference site is the exact opposite of simple, clear writing:

An investigation of the essence of simplicity must necessarily get involved with the psychology of human-machine interaction. Why do we display such a strong proclivity to regarding technology as an externally imposed authority, to condemning or venerating it?…If we merely equate simplicity with simplification and reduction, simply let the technology become “invisible”, we not only manifest our inability to even recognize the type and extent of the technological deployment

This post on the excellent signal vs. noise blog illustrates how one can lose their way when trying to simplify. Lean and other management improvement folks can learn a lot about eliminate non-value added steps, clean design, simplifying systems to improve performance… from this blog. The examples are mainly relating to software development from a true understanding of lean thinking (though I don’t have any evidence they are familiar with the Toyota Production System or lean tools/concepts).

If the authors were not software developers they could be lean consultants. Their focus is on designing interfaces that allow people to work effectively on computers – similar, I think, to designing factories to let people work effectively.

And that’s just a small excerpt. Other words used on that page to talk about simplicity: inundations, technophobic, realtime-access, polyvalencies, global knowledge networks, externally imposed authority, dispassionate, technological competence, ambient inspiration, technological deployment, framework conditions, free zones, portals, alternative models, and artistic interventions.

I’ve got an idea where the intervention should start.

If you’re going to talk about simplicity, why not do it with words that are actually simple?

Signal vs. noise post examples: You still want meetings. Here’s how to make them useful.37signals lingo: cheap/expensiveBloat is a function of time, people, and moneyThe importance of instant feedback

Related: Software development postsIf Tech Companies Made SudokuBad Visual Controls in SoftwareJoel ManagementManagement Training ProgramInterviews with Innovators

One Response to “Complicating Simplicity”

  1. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Simple Cell Phone
    October 31st, 2006 @ 7:49 pm

    Simple, easy to use, reliable devices would have a big market. Creativity is not just about more complex devices…

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