EppsNet Archive: Simplicity

Behind Every Great Product


Excerpts from “Behind Every Great Product: The Role of the Product Manager” by Martin Cagan, Silicon Valley Product Group: Behind every great product you will find a good product manager, in the sense we describe here. We have yet to see an exception to this rule.   Product ideas can come from any number of sources. Your job as product manager is to evaluate these product ideas and decide which product ideas are worth pursuing, and which are not.   The art of product management is to combine a deep understanding of your target customer’s needs and desires with the capabilities of your engineering team and the technologies they have to work with in order to come up with a product definition that is both compelling and achievable.   Of the hundreds of possible and even desirable features in the product, which are the few that are actually essential to… Read more →

“Keep it Simple,” Nobel Prize Winner Advises


I soon was taught that [Linus] Pauling’s accomplishment was a product of common sense, not the result of complicated mathematical reasoning. Equations occasionally crept into his argument, but in most cases words would have sufficed. The key to Linus’ success was his reliance on the simple laws of structural chemistry. The -helix had not been found by only staring at X-ray pictures; the essential trick, instead, was to ask which atoms like to sit next to each other. In place of pencil and paper, the main working tools were a set of molecular models superficially resembling the toys of preschool children. We could thus see no reason why we should not solve DNA in the same way. All we had to do was to construct a set of molecular models and begin to play — with luck, the structure would be a helix. Any other type of configuration would be… Read more →

New Years Resolutions


To expose the false arts of life, to pull off the disguises of cunning, vanity and affectation, and to recommend a general simplicity in our dress, our discourse, and our behaviour . . . Read more →

The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work


I ask people to think about the question, “What is the simplest thing that could possibly work?” I’m not asking you to think about what is too simple to work, just to bias your thinking toward eliminating wasted complexity. — Kent Beck, Extreme Programming Explained Read more →

What Can You Stop Doing?


All of us have a tendency to take on additional work, lose focus, and feel overloaded — whether we work in the C-suite, at a desk, or on a shop floor. The key is not to repeat that pattern by adding more work. Instead, take an inventory of everything you’re trying to do, pick out the few things that will make the most difference (to your job, your career, or your life), and put everything else at the bottom of the pile or eliminate it altogether. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize — and you may find that you’ll get more done by doing less. — Ron Ashkenas, “When Managing Complexity, Less is More,” Harvard Business Review Read more →

Design Questions


How does one design an electric motor? Would you attach a bathtub to it, simply because one was available? Would a bouquet of flowers help? A heap of rocks? — Professor Bernardo de la Paz Read more →

Evolving a System


A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works . . . A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. — John Gall Read more →

Design Breakthrough of the Week


I saw one of these upside-down bottles at Black Angus the other night . . . The frustrated diner battling a ketchup bottle is part of our cultural vocabulary, and the solution turns out to be as simple as turning the problem upside down!? I couldn’t decide if this was a stroke of brilliance or whether we’re all fools for not thinking of it decades ago . . . Read more →

3 Easy Steps to Simplify Your Life


Simplify, simplify, simplify! — Henry David Thoreau, Walden Thoreau’s Walden had a profound impact on my thinking. It’s hard to achieve the kind of transcendent simplicity he describes when you live with other people, as I do, but if your family is out of town for a week, as mine is, here are some things you might want to try. Don’t Recycle When my wife is here, we have to sort and bag bottles, cans and plastic separately. Later on that noise! Everything goes straight into the garbage! Simplify, simplify, simplify! Don’t Wash Dishes Drink liquids from the container and eat food straight out of whatever you cooked it in. If you have to clean an eating utensil, put it in your mouth, press your lips together, and pull it back out. Bloom Where You’re Planted Why walk all the way to the bathroom if there’s a bottle, can or… Read more →