Becoming a Chief Simplicity Officer

Can you name the most important thing that Amazon and Google have in common?

If you said simplicity, give yourself a gold star.  While they may have other things in common, the one thing that makes each a leader in their field is their simplicity.  And these are anything but simple companies!

Imagine the operational complexity at Amazon as you click around their site, looking for a Kindle book to read on your next flight, an inflatable kayak for your upcoming vacation, or the Reynold’s aluminum food wrappers your youth group needs for this weekend’s snack bar.

You don’t need to worry about which vendor partner, or warehouse has the goods you’re purchasing.  The server farms that power and deliver the website to your device never enter your mind.  The patchwork quilt of state and federal laws that Amazon must navigate aren’t your concern.  The logistics involved in instantaneously determining your price, shipping costs, and sales taxes are all handled by Amazon.  All you have to do is select the items from an incredibly easy search bar, and make sure the price is competitive (however you define the word competitive).

Navigating Amazon’s online store is simple.  The site even recommends accessories for your purchases.  Do you need a paddle or life preserver to go with your kayak?  Amazon has taken something incredibly complex and presented it to the customer in a simple way.  Do you prefer to use Amazon from your mobile device?  No problem, that’s simple too.

Google doesn’t say how many servers they have, but the number is thought to be well over a million, spread across the world in at least a dozen gigantic data centers.  Google’s data centers continuously consume at least 260 million watts of electricity.  How’s that for an electricity bill?

Google indexes over 20 billion web pages a day, and handles over 3 billion daily search queries.  They serve up millions of YouTube videos every day to millions of viewers.  Google provides millions of map queries and turn-by-turn directions to just about anywhere on the planet on a daily basis.

Want to do your search in German, Spanish, French, or any number of other languages?  No problem, just enter your search in the language of your choice and the search returns what you’re looking for in that language.

I spent a few minutes Googling these factoids, but as a consumer of Google’s services, I never have to know any of it.  Google works tirelessly to make sure their services are easy to consume.  Google’s home page is a feat of simplicity.  Enter the search you’re interested in, and it handles the rest.

How simple is your company?  To put it more succinctly, how simple is your company from your customer’s perspective?  How easy is it to access your services, to buy your products?  How much expertise does your customer need in order to work with your company?  How much of your company’s operational complexity gets exposed to your customer?

Customers have shown time and time again that they gravitate to the simplest solutions.  I’ve highlighted only two companies as beacons of simplicity.  I could have added Apple, McDonald’s, Geico, and countless others that have seen great success by making the complex simple for their customers.

Looking for ways to become more customer-focused?  Focus on becoming their Chief Simplicity Officer.

Simplicity equals Success.  Complicated equals Failure.  It’s that simple.

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