Leading Edge

Do Less and Get More

When you remove the right elements in the right way, good things happen.

April 6, 2013

Today's most original innovators focus more on what to leave out or ignore versus what to pay attention to or include, according to strategy + business.

The art of subtraction—the process of removing anything excessive, confusing, wasteful, hazardous, or hard to use—can lead to more innovative approaches and products.
When you remove the right elements in the right way, good things happen.
Use these six rules to achieve simplicity in any innovative effort:
1. Absence creates possibility. Offering a very basic product, which has room for customization, can add to its consumer appeal and attachment.
2. Simple rules create effective experiences. A few vital agreements— oft en socially implicit and understandable, but open to variation and interpretation—might create more order and engagement than a rigid hierarchy.
3. Limiting information engages the imagination. Mysteries capture people's attention. Conventional wisdom suggests that to be successful, ideas must be concrete and complete. But sometimes the most engaging ideas are malleable—allowing individuals to fill in the details on their own.
4. Creativity thrives under intelligent constraints. Limits don't kill art or creative solutions. They oft en spur them on. Think about haiku poems (and Twitter for that matter) or the reinvention of products because of budget limitations.
5. "Break" is the important part of breakthrough. Innovation oft en demands a break from convention. Even if you're asking for a broad fix for a big problem, a small, narrow solution might be a more innovative idea.
6. Doing something isn't always better than doing nothing. Innovation hinges on the ability to make connections between seemingly disparate things. This often demands taking a break and quieting the mind from time to time.