alcramer [Alfredo Cramerotti]


Posted in Tools.Coaching by alcramer on November 10, 2007

This is something I have written on ten pages A4, taped to the wall opposite my desk, to create a vertical totem. First of all, it’s not mine. the laws of simplicity have been nurtured and published in a marvellously-crafted little book by John Maeda, ex-MIT design guru.

But it’s not to talk about him that I started this post. It’s to give you a precious tool, the first of the series to come, which goes like that: do simplify whatever can get simplified.

At the cost of seeming banal, do take the path of simplicity in whatever you are doing, or planning to do. You’ll always be in time to complicate the matter, personally or through someone else. If you want to get close (at least) to achieve what you are planning, cut the 30% of your planned expectations, and consequently reduce to at least 50% your planned actions.

This is not a call for banality. It’s a call for concreteness. And getting concrete, means having results. Having results, means producing consequences. Producing consequences, means injecting stimuli for another projects, and future achievements. Not to mention that, having finished a work, means getting paid. Sounds good, uh?

Here are the 10 laws on a string: for more details, visit the lawsofsimplicity website:

First round – the basics to get simple:

1. Reduce: either shrink, hide, or embody (the simplest way to achive simplicity is through thoughtful reduction: when in doubt, just remove – carefully). Lessen what you can and conceal everything else without losing the sense of inherent value.

2. Organize: sort, label, integrate, prioritize (organization makes a system of many appear fewer: and working with fewer – objects, concepts, functions – makes life simpler). Everything is important, but knowing where to start is the critical first step.

3. Time: again – shrink, hide, embody (savings in time feels like simplicity: this is really about reducing time). When time is saved – or appears to have been – the complex feels simpler.

Second round – here comes the hard work:

4. Learn: basics are the beginning, repeat yourself often, avoid creating desperation, inspire with examples, never forget to repeat yourself (to easing the process of understanding: relate – translate – surprise!). Difficult tasks seem easier when they are ‘need to know’ rather than ‘nice to know’, so connect deeply to the greater context of learning and life.

5. Differences: simplicity and complexity need each other (acknowledging contrast helps to identify qualities that we desire). Figuring out the rhythm of how simplicity and complexity occur in time and space holds the key.

6. Context: what lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral (ambience: that which appears to be of immediate relevance may not be nearly as important compared to everything else around). When there is less, we appreciate everything much more.

Third round – if you are aspire at changing the world (almost):

7. Emotion: more emotions are better than less (just the right kind of more: ‘feel, and feel for’). Achieving clarity isn’t difficult. The true challenge is achieving comfort.

8. Trust: in simplicity we trust (lean back, and trust the water. And just enjoy something). Trust unquestionably, but be open to undo-ing that trust whenever deserved.

9. Failure: some things can never be made simple (knowing that simplicity is elusive in certain cases is an opportunity to make more constructive use of your time in the future, instead of chasing after an apparent impossible goal). One man’s failed experiment in simplicity can be another man’s success as a beautiful form of complexity.

A final Intuition:

10. The one: simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful

(which may be ‘coupled’ with 4 more keys in attempting simplicity, such as: more appears like less by removing it far away / openness simplifies complexity / power: use less, gain more / technology, as professions, can disable the average person.)

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One Response

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  1. Adrian Short said, on November 24, 2007 at 11:09 am

    I thought Maeda’s book was interesting but didn’t go into enough detail on law 1 – reduce. Shrink, Hide and Embody (SHE) are strategies for minimising the impact of the things that remain, not for reduction per se. So _how_ do we decide what to “thoughtfully reduce”? My series “Getting to Less” will be exploring strategies for doing just that.

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