KISS – Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Source: Mr G M.Mangion¸  PKF Malta 

As published on the 11th of August on Sunday Independent


Historically we meet the KISS acronym as it was coined by Kelly Johnson when he was acting as lead engineer at the Lockheed -creators of specialist fighter planes¸ among many other engineering products. It proved useful over time and it beckons us to try to tackle one thing at a time even though it is common to find people who labour forcefully to multi task¸ juggling many things at once¸ thinking that it will make them more efficient. As can be expected this strategy does not always work and really and truly there is a problem with this approach leading to failure since you aren’t giving your entire focus to any one thing. Without 100% focus you will not be working as quickly and producing results that are of a high enough quality.

The “keep it simple stupid” (KISS) principle is a design rule that states that systems perform best when they have simple designs rather than complex ones. KISS is not meant to imply stupidity. On the contrary¸ it is usually associated with intelligent systems that may be misconstrued as stupid because of their simplistic design. The KISS principle in computer design hinders and/or prevents creeping featurism¸ system failover and other discordant IT issues. Here it may well be appropriate to  remember Albert Einstein famous quote : “Everything should be made as simple as possible¸ but not simpler.” This means that one should simplify the design of a product and most of the time success is achieved when a design is at its maximum simplicity. At a time when in Europe many countries are facing a sluggish economy there are mounting pressures to multi-task and try to lower production costs by aiming for a higher rating in the Global competitiveness index. Malta last reached the 47 th place among the rest and it goes without saying that at times of recession it is wise to devise ways how to simplify functions and especially apply deep surgery on heavy bureaucracy at certain customer oriented government departments. But simplicity is not trying to do many things at a go or try to work by trial and error to produce same  amount twice as fast since as stated earlier if one can focus on one thing rather many this is more successful then if you work on three at a time. The common parlance in this respect is that “less is more”.

In design concepts it is well understood that it is imperative not to overcomplicate your product with more buttons¸ switches¸ or other options but instead try to design the final template in the simplest way. Again it is the hallmark of successful designers ( remember Steve Jobs in design of Ipad ) that follow the creed saying your product should be usable by all types of people¸ especially the people you hope will use it. In the quest to cut red tape and improve production flow any company that designs products or furnishes services may find simplicity to be an advantage ¸ since design simplicity  tends to shorten performance time and reduce cost. Speaking of consultancies it was a business-management consultant Joseph.M.Juran  who suggested the equally popular Pareto principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population .Pareto’s  principle is a common rule of thumb tha