Simplicity has always been the cornerstone of successful design. Who can argue with the genius of E=mc2 or the architecture of Mies van der Rohe? The problem with the word simplicity is that is sounds like a really good idea for a strategy – and it’s not. Often I hear from the entrepreneurs we work with that their goal is to simplify the industry they are entering. To be clear, simplifying a previously complex or time consuming process is a good thing. Simplicity is the end goal not the strategy. You cannot be simple. Simplicity creates other things.

For example, if Walgreen’s strategy is to be the most convenient drug store then access to their stores needs to be simple. If Apple wants to be the most attractive consumer computer and device company they will need simple-to-use-products. A strategy is a plan, not a statement of where you are heading.

Beware of saying, “our goal is to simplify [this or that].” Instead say, “our product reduces the number of steps to register for [x] and thus makes it simple to [y]. We do this by [insert strategy].” In order to make something simple you need a strategy that will get you to that point. Of course, your strategy might be simple to understand but that’s another story altogether.

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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