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02/26/2009 The Brilliance of Simplicity

Simplicity might be the hardest thing in the world to achieve. It’s much easier to take something and make it overly complex. In the interactive space we struggle with this daily. The more we want to do, the greater the layers of complexity we lay on top of it. Planners, designers and developers all ad their complexities, one on top of the other.

Our challenge is to make the complex simple.

One of the reasons I read Seth Godin every day is because he’s able to take complex thinking and boil it down into short, well-written blog entries. Seth’s ability to simplify is part of his brilliance: we know his brain is moving at 200 MPH but we all understand his ideas. Profound thought, simply explained.

IStock_000007145932XSmall When I was younger I went to a lecture by former Dartmouth President John Kemeny. Kemeny started his career as Einstein’s lab assistant at Princeton. President Carter appointed him to lead the Three Mile Island commission. In a packed auditorium, Kemeny explained to all of us laymen exactly what had happened, and how the commission recommended solving the problems. None of us were nuclear physicists but Kemeny did such a great job of explaining a nuclear power plant failure to us, that we all left that lecture thinking “That wasn’t so hard.” The brilliance of simplicity.

That lecture reminded me of an old Star Trek episode “Spock's Brain.” It’s the one where McCoy puts on the helmet and all the secrets of medicine are revealed to him.

Complexity >>>>Simplicity = Brilliance

We don’t have the luxury of McCoy’s “teacher.” We have to do it on our own.

Try it. It’s a refreshing experience. And a critical one for everyone in marketing.


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