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  • Keep Innovation Simple, Sweetheart

       November 23, 2005

    If any of you are interested in creativity and innovation, I can't recommend the Report 103 newsletter enough. Each month I get a little tidbit of genius. This month the topic is innovation, and the author, Jeffrey Baumgartner says:

    One of the underlying maxims of engineering is that of KISS, an acronym for “Keep It Simple, Stupid” or, as I prefer: “Keep It Simple Sweetheart”. And if you have ever watched a project evolve from concept to design to implementation, you will understand the importance of Kiss. When new ideas are at the drawing board, they are often simple, elegant concepts. But, as more people become involved, they all want to add features to the concept. As a result, the design must become increasingly complex in order so support all the proposed features.

    However, many of those proposed features will prove useless. They will add complexity to the design of the project, they will make the finished product more expensive to purchase and maintain and they will offer no real benefits to the end user.

    Apple has always been held up as the best example of a company that succeeds by creating simple, elegant products that fulfill needs the consumer didn't even know they had. However, even Apple is falling into the trap that Baumgartner describes above. Maybe they're busy behind the scenes creating the next iPod, but this season they're just marketing more and more enhancements and features of the iPod. Hopefully they're just making what they can and tiding themselves over until they come up with the next big thing.

    And what is the next big thing anyway? Looking at WalMart's Black Friday list, I don't see it. It looks to me like just a bunch of new features and additions to past innovations like DVDs, digital cameras and laptop computers. Undoubtably, if this is a poor Christmas sales season, we'll hear about how high gas prices or economic uncertainly or even the War in Iraq is to blame. Rarely, if ever, are retailers and manufacturers themselves blamed for failing to bring anything new to the table.

    I wish there was something new and exciting out there, because I don't have a clue what to tell Santa I want this year.

    Posted by at November 23, 2005 10:24 AM

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