Learn to Keep It Simple Stupid

by Christopher Wendels on oktober 25, 2010

Keep It Simple Stupid - Dealing With Stupidity

It really is amazing how many stupid people there are out there. No really. Just trying to think of examples of idiocy for this post I was overwhelmed by my own brainstorming. One of modern societies main failings is that we can’t seem to keep anything simple anymore.

Learn to KISS
If I could give you just one piece of advice for the future, simplicity would be it. Anyone can over-complicate a process. It doesn’t even take talent. Taking something complicated and turning it into 5 lazy steps, that’s genius!

Step 1: Break It Down
The key to simplicity is breaking down complicated processes, decisions and funnels and identifying the core elements. Let’s say we’re doing linkbuilding. Getting links to a website may be one of the most complicated and time-consuming efforts you will ever undertake online. Yet, any SEO with half a brain could break it down into 5 steps.

Step 2: Lay It Out
When you want something to be simple, you also need it to be easy. Chronology is a good rule of thumb. Some processes can’t be broken down like that because of interconnectivity. Pro tip: Use a flowchart. When you are unable to put things in something as basic (read: made for dummies) as a flowchart; you haven’t simplified enough. Go back to Step 1.

Step 3: Expect Stupidity
Never, and I mean never, expect people will understand what you wrote. In fact, aim for the life-form with the lowest intelligence imaginable and then dumb it down for good measure. If that means you spend 20 hours taking screenshots in Microsoft Word, so be it.

Step 4: Failsafe
You can never make anything foolproof. People are dumber than you give them credit for. Murphy’s Law states:

If there is a wrong way of doing something; someone will do it that way.

This is true of anything. The safest bet is to just give people one option and remove the human factor. Sometimes a decision must be made by the person. WRONG! Pick the default value (the choice causing the least amount of damage) and save yourself the stress. The smart ones will figure it out anyway, and you don’t need to worry about them.

Step 5: Test, Rinse and Repeat
Find someone you have a good rapport with who has the level of experience someone using your document would have. Ask them to execute the document. Watch their actions and/or have them tell you what it said. This will give you valuable insight into how differently others view your writing. Make the necessary changes to your document. When there are no changes to be made you either didn’t pick someone stupid enough to read your document or your boss isn’t paying you nearly enough. You always need to make changes. Test again on a new person, you might have gotten it right the second time.