Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

There is an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed about the zoom lens on a camera – the better one feels about the way they look, the more comfortable they are with its use. Much like the lens of a camera, a mirror of our behavior can be just as intimidating. Today I am going to share some self reflection questions through the comfort of another company.

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.  It is widely recognized that it takes a lot of complexity to make something simple. In describing Apple’s approach to innovation, Steve Jobs used to say “We make progress by eliminating things”. What he realized is that just because something is “better” in it’s description does not mean it’s better for the customer. Innovation is not about “more”, its about better. Keeping what’s best for the customer as Apple’s guiding light, they were able to navigate and connect many previously disconnected industries. They understood it was the customer that made it possible to connect computers to music to television and so on. It requires a quiet strength to acknowledge old solutions that worked no longer do and endure the critics that do not yet understand this skill. 

Understanding their customer at a super deep level, Apple could develop a myriad of products desired by them. Not only that, this empowerment of the customer led to a demand of evolving other technology that they had became frustrated with. They demanded change. They entrusted this demand to Apple. Much success and evolution followed. When the customer is at the center of innovation, the anchors of conventional wisdom are overcome. How can we better understand our significant relationships? 

Now what Apple had done was never done before and they faced plenty of naysayers. They were relentless until they found the key underlying principle of a problem, which they realized was needed to build their foundation on. While other companies were busy adding more features and memory, Apple was eliminating confusion and installing the right amount of memory. While telecom companies were telling the phone makers what features to add and the music industry was dictating how their music was sold, Apple was returning the relationship to its most simple form – putting the customer’s needs first. Apple was advocating for their customers and building products and services that made their customer’s lives better. Quiet determination coupled with focused patience can make miraculous accomplishments commonplace.

There will be failures in doing something better than everyone else. Solving difficult challenges is tough. It requires sophisticated examination and collaboration, tools that must not be allowed to be a negotiation in mediocrity. Solvers must be creative and cling to a determined discipline of focus on the goal. Change is not free of consequence. Good ideas will be dropped. Habits will change. Relationships will end. Success, though, has a way of finding the dedicated few willing to endure these consequences of improvement. 

Good luck on your journey.