152. Don’t Misapply: “Keep It Simple Stupid” (KISS)

“Bruce, KISS It!”

For years on the distribution speaking circuit, Polished Pleasers have advised me to: “Make your message simple, appealing, dumbed-down – with memorable sound-bites or key distributor folks won’t listen. Your advice on service-value innovation for net-profitable customers and customer niches is too complicated.  Tell them what they want to hear. (Be an edutainer!)”

Some distributors (along with my own turnarounds) have pursued what I preach for great results. Wins keep you going! But, many distributors are still not suffering enough (yet) to want to upgrade their simplistic, operating, financial beliefs.

The intent behind KISS was not to adopt simplistic notions for success. Simplistic always yields weak, commodity, follow-the-herd returns! What was KISS’s intent? How did it get distorted? What should you do about it? Read on!    

The History of KISS

KISS emerged as a Navy design principle in 1960. The phrase was novel, but the design principle of zero-clutter in solutions is ancient. In the 15th century, Leonardo (for example) quipped: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Meaning that creatives work hard to find the essence within complexity, to craft a solution that is as simple as possible.  But, not simpler or simplistic!

The Rise of the Soundbite

With the advent of 24/7 news in the ‘70’s more politicians got more chances to be seen on TV for thirty seconds. Consultants emerged to teach politicians and business PR folks how to coin phrases along with the right backdrop for appealing (often deceitfully) KISS messages for the masses.

This perversion of KISS moved into business books in the early ‘80’s.  Fable books like “Who Moved My Cheese” were 20 minute-read, big hits. I was inspired by some. I even adapted fable-lessons into my own businesses’ strategic schemes.  Note, though, that simple best practices don’t make for a winning strategy.

And today? 280-word tweets determine what news channels talk about and how trade wars are progressing.      

 Closing Soundbites

Simplistic loses. But, digging deeper into opportunities gets initially overwhelming. So, breathe! Have faith, take one step at a time to journey to the far side of complexity. Find there the simple, best solutions for your company’s customer portfolio. Stop believing that financial mantras alone add up to a profitable-growth strategy.  

For a journey map to the far side of your company’s complexity: request (for free) my “Core Customer Renewal Roadmap”. bruce@merrifield.com