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.
- The Law about differences means that there can be no simple without complex, they need each other, yin and yang, so doing simple does not mean removing the complexity out of the system!
- Then, the last one: “The One” (“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful”). This one is the most revelatory of these laws to me, as it brings out the obvious. Simple does not contain obvious! You leave obvious out of simple because – it is obvious! Many people seem to mix obvious with simple, but it is exactly the other way around. Now, let that sink in for a moment…
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?
- Cloud-based solutions and products: they can organize multiple services/systems to appear as one/few and keep the differences – simple and complex – separated.
- In-memory platforms such as SAP HANA: saving time primarily, SAP HANA is also about organizing many features in one platform.
- Well organized Life-Cycle services can save time, and they should generate trust towards the customers.
- HTML5 User Interfaces: SAP UI5 and Neptune are good for reducing. Neptune also makes a good job in organizing, as its architecture is lightweight.
- System Landscape Optimization and Transformation services: depending on the case, they can reduce and organize. They certainly save time and usually hide amazing amounts of complexity from the customers.
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.