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When in doubt, K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple, stupid

October 8, 2011

Days at Lavalife taught me two things I will carry with me forever.

One is if you are sure about something, sink your teeth into it, build a business case and don’t be afraid of the whole hierarchy thing if you really believe in what you are saying.

Two is something that helps pretty much everything you do, including number one- the K.I.S.S. Theory- “keep it simple, stupid”.

Probably the most underrated and simply thing you could learn, but it seriously puts you leagues ahead of the pack if you can stick to it. By following KISS, you set yourself up with documentation that is easier to use (and less intimidating when you set about to create it). K.I.S.S. helps you make your communication much more accessible to a wide variety of people and stakeholders. And you design better products, marketing campaigns and events when you keep it out of the realm of overly complex.

So how do you keep it simple?

The baseline K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple, stupid rules:

  • Make your emails easy to read. Keep them short, succinct and to the point without flowery, technical or obtuse language. Most people are put off by essays, multiple asks or having to linguistically unravel what you are sharing. You only serve to create a longer time before you get an answer back if you don’t speak in terms the reader understands.
  • Minimise Email Traffic. It’s very tempting to email about all things all the time. But don’t. Pick up the phone. No seriously, do it. That ten minute conversation saves 30 minutes email traffic. And for the love of all things holy, Gen Y, when someone says call- CALL! Texting ten questions in 10 minutes is just as annoying as emailing. The phone did have a big fat use before it could type you know.
  • Speak in Terms Others Understand. If you are presenting a Business Case to marketing, don’t make it overly technical. Or if you are speaking to the technical department, don’t talk in watery marketing campaigns. Stop thinking about yourself and present to your audience. If you do that the power you have to influence others about your idea becomes automatic as you are meeting their needs, concerns and questions. If you don’t, don’t expect buy in or confidence.
  • Keep Meetings to a Minimum. The reality is most professions rely on critical blocks of thinking time in order to get what they want done on a developmental and actionable level. If you keep brainstorming or calling out for conversation, ideas get generated and action doesn’t happen. Take a leaf from the Agile book and cap and block all meetings and don’t let them exceed 10% of the allotted time you have a resource for unless absolutely necessary.
  • Spell it Out. Bullet points, small paragraphs, simple language, links to further reference on needs basis, headings AND just being plain simple about what you want from people is a hell of a lot easier to deal with. Most senior people have very limited time on their hands and don’t want a “puzzle of the day” style email, proposal, report or business case. Avoid the waste paper basket- be clear.
  • Meet the Ask. If someone sends you a template requesting a week’s data on a subject, don’t give a day by day, give a week. If someone wants you to include comments, include comments. You can add all the bells and whistles you want, but you HAVE to meet what the person who is asking for your work requires. Otherwise you just create extra work for them and yourself in the process.

In summary, if you K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple, stupid, you can KISS a lot of your headache and hard work points goodbye.

When in doubt, K.I.S.S. - Keep it simple, stupid

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