Why Simplification Leads to Greater Adoption

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Before the days of cell phones with great cameras, I went camera shopping in a specialty camera store. I was torn between a fancy Digital SLR camera that was powerful, but too large to always carry around, and a smaller, more portable automatic with good ratings. The manager said to me, "I always tell people that the best camera to own is the one you're going to use."

That lesson always stuck with me, and not just with cameras. It's especially applicable to software and process adoption. It's always best to start simple, and add ingredients as needed.

If the software configuration and/or your processes are as lean as can be, with only the functions that are absolutely necessary, they'll be much more likely to be readily adopted. Most resistance I see is either due to the "why" not being articulated, management not using the data to drive decisions, or overly complex processes and tools. 

Conquering complexity isn’t as difficult as it sounds.

  • Processes can be simplified by using basic checklists where appropriate, and avoiding redundant or unnecessary steps.

  • Tools can be simplified by first determining the output that’s critical for decision making and then configuring the input accordingly.

  • Focus on the goals and the problem being solved instead of all the magnificent possibilities you can think of.

  • Resist the urge to capture additional data "just in case."

  • Reports, too, should be simple and focused on key metrics. Read Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information to learn how to simplify reports and communication.

  • Communication can be simplified by making sure each message includes only one main point, augmented by up to three supporting points. 

I often refer to a brilliant statement from artist Hans Hoffman: "Simplicity is the art of removing the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." This is true whether designing forms; communicating new policies or announcements; creating processes; or configuring software.  By opting for a lean configuration, engaging people in the creation of standards (you don't need to standardize everything), and focusing on only that which is necessary, you can "grease the wheels" for greater success. 

It's as simple as that.


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Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn.