Run Simple?

As the summer holiday season is over, it is time to get back to the blogging routines. A proper vacation break can clear your head and have old ideas and thoughts formulate in new ways in your mind. This is how the human brain works: you cannot force your thoughts into specific outcomes. One thing that was spoken in June’s SAPPHIRE conference popped into my mind during my vacation: simplicity. The key message in SAP CEO Bill McDermott’s keynote speech was “Run Simple” followed by famous quote from Leonardo da Vinci. Bill carried on by stating that the “complexity sprawl” has to be eliminated, and he admitted that SAP’s solutions have been too complex in the past. He mentioned Fiori and HANA Cloud as two existing SAP products for helping customers fight the complexity.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” -Da Vinci

I started wondering what does simple really mean, what does it consist of? I thought that doing simple is making a cost-efficient trade-off between the elements of the system. Also, I am not talking “just” UI here in order to reach a state of elegance. Then again, simplicity could be about hiding complexity and offering just the obvious, could it? I did some searching for famous(?) quotes about “simple” besides the Da Vinci one, but most of the quotes I found were not too simple and elegant. I was about to quote here a former front man of a certain fruit company, but after reading an article in a Finnish newspaper recently I simply will not, because it seems that the iOS user experience was mimicked from an ingenious Finnish MyDevice. Simple as that! So I ditched the quotes and dug a little deeper into the interwebz for simplicity. When you search for simplicity on the Internet, you are bound to bump into Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda. I will list the 10 laws here, and you can check their brief explanations behind that link:

Law 1: Reduce

Law 2: Organize

Law 3: Time

Law 4: Learn

Law 5: Differences

Law 6: Context

Law 7: Emotion

Law 8: Trust

Law 9: Failure

Law 10: The One

These Laws actually make some sense! Reduce, organize, yes. Saving time – obviously. Context: that is a major piece, context is king! (btw this guy can explain the very  fundamentals about context) Learning and emotion, I guess. However, two of these stand out: Differences and The One. 

In the end, simple and simplicity deals with other generic concepts such as design and brand.

How is simple and simplicity reached in our business? Everything related to User Experience can be easily qualified with Simple and the Laws of Simplicity, design in general and even as a synonym. Brand also! What about systems based on the products, solutions and components that we are dealing with every day?

Simple as that! What is your idea of simple?


P.S. A great human being passed away recently. He was especially good at hiding his complexity, evoking emotions and generating trust. Society of Dead Poets and Hunting of Good Will are monumental films, but as a small tribute, here’s a link to a bit more rare clip called ‘In The Wild With Robin Williams – Dolphins (1994)‘. (VHS quality…) When it comes to documentaries, you can’t go wrong with dolphins and Robin Williams.

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Janne Vihervuori


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