Brand-identity consultant Siegel and colleague Etzkorn make a strong, appealing case for simplicity.
Who but those who make their living off such monstrosities hasn’t been bamboozled by the tax code, credit-card agreements, insurance policies, hospital bills, car loans or mortgages? The authors believe in the promise of simplicity: clearness of intention, accessibility, trust and satisfaction. To achieve simplicity, they emphasize three principles: empathy—“a willingness and ability to look at a contract, application, product, or service with a sense of the person on the other end”; distillation—the Google home page is a good example; and clarity, which requires organization and visualization. Siegel early on identifies himself as the writer of the book, and his voice rings throughout as brash, but not bullying, trustworthy and easy to agree with. He brings loads of case studies, including JetBlue, Southwest, Oxo, Google, Apple, Philips, IBM, the Cleveland Clinic and Kaiser Permanente. The authors get into a bit of a twist trumpeting social media as a grassroots tool for bringing simplicity into the mainstream—the clog and bloat of Facebook and the endless blogs is often anything but simple. Readers may have had vastly different experiences with some of his examples of simplicity, including, for example, the budgeting software Mint, hardly “simple” to begin with and praised for the fact that “users view their own data, but they can compare their financial habits with others in the same city, state or country”—i.e., beginning to enter the world of complexity. Nonetheless, the authors provide a mostly cleareyed assessment of the importance of simplicity in business.
The authors make their case simply but with vigor and dash.