Simplicity: The Secret to Getting Stuff Done

In Design

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction”. — Albert Einstein

Bill Jenson has spent the past two decades studying how work gets done. Simplicity is his approach to working smarter not harder.  The context and pace of change makes the business case. From NASA Masters Forum 5, Simplicity: Our Role in Creating Value comes this observation:


As Tom Petzinger, author of The New Pioneers points out, “this is a critical productivity issue … The obstacle, however, is not the ability or willingness of people to engage as fully committed knowledge workers. To seek, think, and create are human traits. The challenge is how management chooses to focus people’s time and energy”.   Similar to Jenson’s numbers, DuPont (2005) helps to further quantify the challenge:

    • 38% of a person’s time is wasted trying to manage information
    • 20% of a professional’s time is spent searching and accessing information
    • 75% of the information people need to effectively work is not in “transaction backbone” data
  • 20% of a person’s time is spent repeating answers
  • 25% of information that a company owns is used
  • 65% of a company’s design work is duplicated

If the challenge for management is how to strategically focus their people’s time and energy, the partner challenge for teams is to have the conversations about process bottlenecks that can be removed to achieve simplicity.