Think Simple Book Summary - Think Simple Book explained in key points
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Think Simple summary

Ken Segall

How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity

4.2 (284 ratings)
24 mins
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    Think Simple
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    Simplicity is not about being simple – it’s about giving the impression of being simple.

    We can’t help but make things complex. The more we discover, invent, and grow as a species, the more complicated our lives become. From labyrinthine bureaucracies to the maddening instructions that come with appliances, we complicate things.

    The irony is that we love simplicity. We prefer easy-to-use products. We gravitate toward people who express themselves clearly. We love companies that have a distinctive, simple brand. So why do we overcomplicate things? 

    Well, mainly because simplicity is really hard to attain.

    The key message here is: Simplicity is not about being simple – it’s about giving the impression of being simple.

    Take an Apple MacBook. It's a beautifully simple bit of technology, but a lot of complexity went into it. Ask most MacBook owners to explain the advanced technology powering their computers and they’d be stumped. Or consider Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Ice cream surely can’t be that complicated, right? Well, what appears to be a straightforward, delicious confection – with big chunks of cookie dough, candy, and swirls – is actually the result of a complex process. 

    In fact, when the company first started, classic ice cream machinery could only handle small ingredients. But to get their signature ice cream flavors, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield invented a way to add those big chunks and hefty swirls. Then, to make things even more complicated, they had to figure out how to mass-produce it – large chunks and all.

    Simplicity, then, isn’t simple. But companies benefit by giving the impression of simplicity, which is precisely what Foolproof does. Foolproof is a fast-growing digital-design agency based in the UK. They design websites for major tech firms, airlines, banks, and media companies. And their ability to make the user experience as simple as possible is what sets them apart.

    To do this, they strive for what they call “flow,” a concept attributed to the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In a state of flow, the user moves seamlessly through a website and isn’t aware of his actions because everything is so intuitive. 

    This means that things like booking flights, which can be frustrating, become uniquely simple, pleasant experiences. And though the web designers at Foolproof have worked extremely hard to achieve this simplicity, the user won’t know a thing about it. 

    Simplicity, then – it’s something that looks easy on the outside, but is extremely tricky on the inside.

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    What is Think Simple about?

    Think Simple (2020) shows us how simplicity is the key to successful businesses, from Hyundai to Whole Foods. Here, Apple insider Ken Segall teaches us how to combat complexity and focus on what really matters in a winning organization.

    Who should read Think Simple?

    • Business leaders looking to simplify their complex organizations
    • Start-up entrepreneurs who want to preserve their initial simplicity
    • Anyone interested in Apple’s business philosophy

    About the Author

    Ken Segall is the author of the New York Times best-seller Insanely Simple. Working with Steve Jobs as Apple’s creative director for twelve years, he led the brand’s Think Different campaign, and named the iMac, leading to the legendary i-branding for products like the iPod and the iPad.

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