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Remember “keep it simple, stupid”? Simplicity Pays blog image.png

Even though it has been a popular mantra since 1960, simplicity is a hot topic these days. In my previous blog, Is Complex Better than Complicated?, I wrote about two Zen of Python’s 20 design principles:

  • Simple is better than complex.
  • Complex is better than complicated.

Ultimately, simple is what we are all striving for both in life and in business.

In our personal lives, scientific studies show a connection between simplicity and pleasure. Humans may be conditioned to seek simplicity and avoid complexity.

In business, the reason is even simpler. Simplicity pays.

Here are three specific ways simplicity can have a positive influence on your bottom line, your customers’ experiences, and employee engagement.

1. Revenue

Strategic branding firm Siegel + Gale, whose tagline is “simple is smart,” surveyed more than 10,000 consumers in seven countries as part of its 2013 Global Brand Simplicity Index. The firm asked consumers several questions about the simplicity/complexity of a brand in relation to its peers. The study yielded important insights such as:

  • 75% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand if it offers a simpler experience
  • 100% of S+G’s simplicity portfolio brands have beaten the average global stock index since 2009

In a similar study called Decision Simplicity, the Corporate Executive Board found brands that simplify customer decision making are 115% more likely to be recommended and 86% more likely to be purchased. As I’ve blogged before, simplicity helps consumers avoid decision quicksand.

Simplicity impacts both the top and bottom line.

2. Customer Experience

If your business wants to walk the customer experience talk, leadership must do more than write a new mission statement.

For many customers, the relationship with your company begins on your website. According to research by Internet marketing blog Conversion XL, simple websites arescientifically better than complex ones. This is because the human brain “decodes, stores and processes information” more quickly and efficiently when the information is presented simply.

A simple website means happier customers and higher conversion rates.

User experience research firm Change Sciences analyzed the usability, engagement, and conversion of 15 bank websites for the “Consumer Bank Web Site User Experience 2013” study. Three findings:

  • Consumers are 17% less happy when interacting on bank sites compared with experiences on other types of sites
  • Consumers are 22% less likely to convert on bank sites than on other sites
  • Bank websites are 25% less usable than e-commerce sites like Amazon and Walmart

Being empathetic to customers means providing a clean, consistent, and simple experience for customers not only online, but at every touch point.

3. Employee Engagement

Like your customers, your employees are also on a journey. Unfortunately the reality is only 13% of employees feel engaged at work. Research by Warwick University shows happy employees are more engaged with their work. And according to the Harvard Business Review, engaged employees contribute to less turnover, fewer safety incidents, and fewer quality incidents. Disengaged employees cost U.S. employers between $450 and $550 billion dollars per year in lost productivity.

So how do businesses make their employees happy? Science has shown simplicity can lead to pleasure and happiness. Providing a simple employee experience may be the critical ingredient many businesses and employers miss.

In February, I wrote about a Google hangout between myself and Gary Hamel, president of the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX). Last month, the MIX announced the winners of the Unlimited Human Potential Challenge, designed to discover bold and innovative ideas to unleash the power of people in the workplace. Each of the winning ideas offers a unique approach to simplifying the employee experience.

Brazilian software company VAGAS, for instance, won the M-Prize for its unique horizontal management. At VAGAS, there is no hierarchy and no command structure – employees are free to pursue the organization’s strategy autonomously. At VAGAS, simplicity means putting zero barriers between the employee and the organization’s goals.

Klick Health, the world’s largest independent digital health agency, won the M-Prize for Genome, its transformative operating system. Genome harnesses big data and social technology to create personalized experiences for each of its 400 employees. Employees “log into Genome at the start of their workday and use it for workflow, goal-setting, administrative and reporting tasks, training and more.” At Klick Health, simplicity means creating personalized workflows and experiences for employees.

VAGAS and Klick Health are among the forward-looking companies that are delivering simple experiences to their employees, to everyone’s benefit.

Revenue, customer and employee engagement – how does simplicity pay in your business?

This blog also appreared on Manage by Walking Around on July 11, 2014.

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