Over the past few months, I’ve come to realize that simplicity is a hot topic. People want simplicity in both their personal and professional lives. It’s being manifested in many different ways.
Leo Babauta, author of the blog Zen Habits, has a book out called “Focus”. It’s about finding simplicity in the Age of Distraction. Jeremiah Owyang devotes much of his writing to the collaborative economy, where people share instead of purchase. But this living with less stuff lifestyle is only one aspect of simplicity.
I see simplicity having a direct correlation with time.
Simplicity is the ability to explain complex topics in a straight-forward way. There used to be a trend in business that five dollar words and complex processes were the way to differentiate yourself in the workplace. Using uncommon semantics demonstrated how smart you were. Today, the point isn’t to abandon having a large vocabulary and knowing complex theory. It’s to figure out how to explain ideas and concepts (complex or not) in the simplest way possible. So people don’t need a dictionary or a flowchart to understand what you’re trying to say.
Simplicity is practical and useful. Maybe it’s just me but I see consumers limiting purchases to those items they are confident that they will actually use on a regular basis. Items that make their lives easier. The kitchen gadget you will only use once or twice a year? Not practical. It might work great and make a great product. But having something sitting on the counter collecting dust doesn’t make sense.
Simplicity is both valuable and inexpensive. Conversations about value and cost can be very subjective. What I think is valuable, someone else might not. Same with expensive and inexpensive. My version of cheap could be expensive to someone else. Regardless of the number, products and services that offer simplicity have a value to consumers.
A couple words of caution – simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean easy. I like to think of simplicity as being free of complications. It’s possible to make something look simple when in reality it’s not. In fact, I think that becomes a challenge for companies in the marketplace. They do such a good job of making their product or service look simple that consumers don’t understand why it’s priced a certain way.
People today are looking for simplicity – from their employers, in their schools, and at the places they shop. They want to immediately see the benefit of working or doing business with a company. Individuals and organizations that have the ability to communicate the simplicity proposition will do very well in today’s marketplace.