KISS Principle

Keep It Simple Stupid: Is It Possible to Apply This in Daily Work?

Even though this acronym, without a comma after the word “simple,” was created in the 1960s by a US Navy aircraft engineer and it is associated with design process, many management consultant experts make us start thinking about the possibility of applying it not only to design, but also to our daily tasks.

In a TED talk, Yves Morieux[i]  presented a set of rules to foster simplicity and try to help organizations improve employees’ productivity and performance. Organizations around the world, including Intraway, are aware of these rules and they are on track to implement them.

Why do we need simplicity?

Suppose that we are working for a team that designs and develops products that are then passed to another team and, then, to another one on the production line, until the products are in customers’ hands. If we don’t take the needs of the other teams into account, we’ll be making the process more complex, creating the need for more resources and more time, which contributes to a lack of cooperation.

So, it seems that the simpler it is, the more people cooperate. As a consequence, fewer resources will be needed.

What can we do to simplify?

As I mentioned earlier, Yves Morieux proposes six rules to simplify. We are going to review these rules now by listing them:

  • Rule #1. Understand what people do. It refers to the importance of, first, understanding what people do and why people act the way they act, despite of job descriptions. Then, it is important to make the necessary changes in the organization in order to fulfill people’s needs and interests. This will let us align people’s interests with what the organization needs.
  • Rule #2. Reinforce integrators. Integrators are existing employees that can help us to make cooperation come true. After we have identified our integrators, we can help them to help us with a simple change, by reducing the amount of layers. This lets them be closer to reality and avoids having complexity added to tasks and processes.
  • Rule #3. Increase the total quantity of power. This is another relevant concept: the more power we give people, the more cooperation and commitment we will have. This rule is based on the fact that people’s intelligence and judgment can be applied if we encourage people to use their power.
  • Rule #4. Extend the shadow of the future. It’s necessary to create practices that let us experience the outcomes of what we did on our own. It’s proven that if we understand and live the consequences of our behavior, we will work better.
  • Rule #5. Increase reciprocity. This rule shows us that in most cases when we have fewer resources, the only option is to rely on each other and cooperate. Maybe we feel that we are good at doing something and we don’t need somebody else, or maybe we really are, but what happens when we don’t have all the needed resources?
  • Rule #6. Reward those who collaborate. This rule refers to encouraging people to raise their hand when they realize that there is an error in their work or in someone else’s work that could have a negative impact on a product or process stage or even on the final result. One way to increase collaboration is not only by rewarding people that detect or take responsibility for errors, but also by not punishing them because of this.

Are these rules going to match with our daily work?

The answer is YES, they definitely will.

Actually, we already have some matches:[ii]

  • Videos, blog posts, white papers, hackathons. These resources are helping us to understand each other’s work and interests, as well as increasing collaboration. (Rule #1 and Rule #5)
  • Concentration meetings: the ones where we prepare a complex deployment. In these meetings we are putting collaboration into action: all the teams that are involved are working together in order to get things done well. This matches with Rule #1, Rule #2, Rule #4, Rule #5 and Rule #6.
  • Daily meetings/huddles. This matches with Rule #1, Rule #5 and Rule #6 because these meetings allow us to know what our teammates are doing, to know if they need something, to ask for help, to raise our hand if we are having a problem, and to identify points of improvement/simplification for tasks and processes.

Should we stop here with simplicity?

The answer is NO; of course not.

We can continue working to improve our daily work by suggesting others ways to collaborate and simplify. We can look at our processes and try to find issues. If we do, and we find a potential fix, report it. So, the KISS principle is not only closely related to the rules presented by Morieux, but also it is still in vogue.


[i] Yves Morieux is a senior partner in Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Washington D.C. office and director of the BCG Institute for Organization. He has published a book from Harvard Business Review Press called “Six Simple Rules: How To Manage Complexity Without Getting Complicated”

[ii] Some of these matches were done with the collaboration of our CEO Leandro Rzezak

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