In my estimation, the old acronym and approach K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid has never been more important. This holds true for processes, communications, presentations, and more. Why?
In today’s stress of project deadlines, tight schedules and information overload, people have neither the patience nor tolerance for figuring something out. Case in point, me. I recently tried to book a health screening appointment online and left exasperated. The process was not clear, concise or fast. The instructions were lengthy, hard to follow and the links failed to take me to the expected next steps. Something seemingly simple—like making an appointment, tied me up in knots. Was it as bad as it felt at the time? Maybe not, but that’s my point—today, the slightest inconvenience, delay, or confusion feels exasperating when other tasks await.
I was talking with a colleague about my frustrating experience and he said his rule of thumb is—“If it is easier and faster to do on paper than it is online, then the process has failed.” I think that’s a great benchmark to remember when you’re designing or implementing a process. Simplicity and clarity have to reign.
Not Just for Processes.
The same thing goes for communications, content, and presentations. Even the most sophisticated individuals appreciate plain and clear language. Breaking up text with intelligent headers and shorter paragraphs to help readers quickly scan to relevant information is always a good approach. Bulleted lists and the effective use of color and other highlighting devices should also be used to emphasize key points and help people understand what you’re trying to say.
Welcome to My World.
I face this issue every week with our Tuesday and Thursday CCH Seminars where the challenge is to discuss technical information in an engaging manner and in a limited timeframe. I have found that a simpler, “less is more” approach is usually better. For example, by reducing the number of topics to be discussed and cutting back the amount of text on slides, it increases the participants’ understanding and retention of information and boosts their overall satisfaction with the training session.
Slow Down and Get a Second Set of Eyes.
I know we’re all feeling pressure and under deadlines, but probably the best thing to remember is to take a moment and have someone review what you’re doing to make sure it is as straightforward and easy to understand as you think it is. We’re often just too close to our own work to see that something is not as clear and simple as it could be.
When in doubt and where possible, cut back the length, reduce the number of steps needed, and focus on the most important stuff. The results and success will improve. But don’t be mistaken—making something simpler is not easy.
Bottom Line – KISSing takes a lot of practice, but it you do it well, people will love you!