The KISS Method and innovation

I had a great conversation wtih a friend of mine yesterday about the latest release of his product. He had mentioned that one of my clips from the Economist (see below) on Evan Williams from Blogger and Twitter fame spurred some lively debate at his company. The key thought from Evan is rather than worry about adding another feature or function, ask yourself what can be taken away to create something new.” This is a central idea and one that reminds of me the KISS method of writing that my high school english teacher taught me. When in doubt about your work revert to the KISS method – KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Too often we drink our own Kool-Aid and don’t ask ourselves the tough questions about ourselves or our product. We also believe that having another bell or whistle on our product will be the next big thing rather than asking ourself the opposite question-will it really be the next big thing if we have less to offer than more? As you know from my other posts, if you are developing any product or service keeping it incredibly easy to use is a surefire way to success.

Keep reading this clip and article for more on Evan’s thoughts – focusing on simplicity and radical constraints

clipped from

The irony of trying to plan accidents, and orchestrate their frequent occurrence, is not lost on Mr Williams. So he tries mental tricks. One is to ask “what can we take away to create something new?” A decade ago, you could have started with Yahoo! and taken away all the clutter around the search box to get Google. When he took Blogger and took away everything except one 140-character line, he had Twitter. Radical constraints, he believes, can lead to breakthroughs in simplicity and entirely new things.

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Published by Ed Sim

founder boldstart ventures, over 20 years experience seeding and leading first rounds in enterprise startups, @boldstartvc, googlization of IT, SaaS 3.0, security, smart data; cherish family time + enjoy lacrosse + hockey

3 comments on “The KISS Method and innovation”

  1. The temptation to add features is never-ending. I run a venture capital database and I’m constantly looking for new capabilities to add. Perhaps at some point, I’ll remember this post and look to see what I can subtract!

  2. That sounds nice and is good advice to get started but then you have to deal with these laws below(they have been proven), 6 and 7 are killers for me. Also why small teams are better, easier to manage the incrase in complexity, but chaos is inevitable, then boom and you start all over. Blogger explodes/implodes and you get twitter, then twitter explodes/implodes, what’s next, fun stuff keeps everyone employed. What’s that sound I hear oh it’s the Google time Bomb ticking. It’s a race for them to become a monopoly or blowup, that’s the only way to defy these laws is to break the law, ie MS. This I think is unique to the software industry, probably a good research project. But I guess it was already researched and the result is below. Thank you MM Lehman

    1. Continuing Change – A system must be continually adapted else they become progressively less satisfactory in use.
    2. Increasing Complexity – As a system is evolved its complexity increases unless work is done to maintain or reduce it.
    3. Self Regulation – Global system evolution processes are self regulating.
    4. Conservation of Organizational Stability – Unless feedback mechanisms are appropriately adjusted, average effective global activity rate in an evolving system tends to remain constant over product lifetime.
    5. Conservation of Familiarity – In general, the incremental growth and long term growth of systems tend to decline.
    6. Continuing Growth – The functional capability of systems must be continually increased to maintain user satisfaction over the system lifetime.
    7. Declining Quality – Unless rigorously adapted to take into account for changes in the operational environment, the quality of a system will appear to be declining.
    8. Feedback System – Evolution processes are mult-level, multi-loop, multi-agent feedback systems.

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