Do you Kiss?
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
KISS is an acronym for ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ it accredited to Kelly Johnson an aircraft engineer in the US Navy. The principle was adopted by the Navy in the 1960’s when designing aircraft that would requiring fixing in the field of combat with a simple toolkit, to not think about this during the design stage would have been stupid. It’s about the relationship between the process or the equipment and what it is intended for.
Since then the expression has gone a little out of favour or has been adapted to have greater meaning in other professions, for example, ‘Keep It Simple and Straightforward’ when it comes to Marketing. Personally, I like the original KISS.
Keeping things simple… It sounds simple, doesn’t it?
The irony is that it is far harder to keep it simple than not, if you’re going to strip something down and deliver it in its barest form then it needs to be beautifully perfect in every way, there is no room for error, and there is nowhere to hide.
It’s quite a balancing act to find ‘simplicity personified’ being over cautious won’t bring the benefits, but being overzealous is a whole different world of pain. So how do you know when you’ve hit the mark?
It’s summed up perfectly in this quote from Antoine de Saint Exupéry - "It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away".
I would add to this by saying… and still delivers its intended purpose. Think of the toolkit, if I take out a spanner, will I still be able to fix the plane? Question the purpose of every step and why it’s there and you should hit the mark or come very close.
I particularly like the KISS principle when it comes to process mapping, not only is it a great technique to deploy but I like the thought that it’s just not been kissed yet.
The second something becomes complex you will lose people, your stakeholders, your team, your supporters, and often your focus. I have learned over time that keeping it simple has a great value, I don’t just mean in terms of efficiency, I mean right through the process of change, from buy-in where it is a key persuader, through to planning, execution, delivery and training.
Next time you’re building a business case or reviewing a process, remember to give it a KISS.