Best Practices, Bradley Kimberlin, Columnists, Operations, V7I3

K.I.S.S or M.I.S.S.?

(Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash)

You have probably heard of the KISS principle introduced by the U.S. Navy in 1960. It is an acronym for “Keep It Simple, Stupid” as a design principle for keeping things as simple as possible, rather than complex.

The problem I have with the KISS principle is it assumes that systems or designs will be inherently simple, and we just need to keep them that way. As you know, this is not always the case.

I think a better principle is MISS: Make It Super Simple.

MISS assumes that the starting point is complex, and it takes deliberate thought, effort, and energy to achieve the desired simplicity. If you have ever been involved in the development of software or a website, you probably know how complex that can get. The same is true for business processes.

Let’s think for a minute about your sales team. These people are the lifeline of your company, either bringing in new clients or retaining the ones that you already have. How simple is their sales process? Do you require reams of information just to get the customer’s money?

Or what about after the sale is made: Does it take them twice as long just to place an order because of all the dialogs and boxes that they must enter information into or check just right?

Here’s another example: Why does it take longer to check into your hotel room than it does to pick up a rental car at Avis? If you are an Avis Preferred member, the bus will drop you at your car and the keys are in it! All you need to do is start driving. What does the hotel think you are going to do, steal the room?

What about your manufacturing process? Sure, your sheds need to look good and certain design characteristics make each shed company unique, but is every step necessary? 

For example: What about the space above your door headers? I have seen some sheds where there were small blocks cut to fill that space. That is great, but if you’ve ever tried to nail in small blocks of wood, you probably know that they split easily. It also takes time to cut each of the blocks the right size. Perhaps you could adjust the stud height or door size by an inch or so and make it so a 2-by lies flat in that space instead of small blocks. 

I once talked to a gentleman who self-identified as an inventor. He said his most famous invention was the “Light Keeper Pro,” a tool to repair Christmas lights that go out. What stood out to me as we talked was his experience in going to China to get this device manufactured on a large scale.

He said that in the United States, we think about manufacturing differently. We build the device and make it work, then we say, “Oh it’s expensive, what do we need to take out of it to make it cheaper?”

Comparatively, he said the manufacturing process in China was much different. They built his prototype at a price point that was very cheap compared to the U.S. model, but it had 10 things wrong with it. He listed the 10 things and sent it back and the next prototype had five things wrong with it. 

This went on until they got all the issues worked out and he said it was a frustrating process, but what amazed him was at the end of it, he had a working device that was significantly cheaper than the U.S. models. 

He shared that “they started from a different perspective than we do. There, it was all about price and for us, it is all about function.”

I am not suggesting that we need to adopt these manufacturing principles. Rather, I wanted to share this story to open your mind to thinking differently. What different perspective can you come from to improve your processes?

If we recognize that systems, processes, and designs will be inherently difficult and complex, then we also realize that we must work to make them simple and functional.

Make It Super Simple.

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