How Simplification Leads to Innovation

An often overlooked tenet of design thinking is simplification. Not adding something new to already overburdened processes and hopelessly complex products, but radically rethinking them from a fresh perspective. In other words, says Jorge Barba, you have to subtract some of what you do now to make room for the new.

We are at a point in time where much of what we do is being or going to be rewritten, argues Jorge Barba. Making room for new ideas means letting go of old ones. And, the only way to let those new ideas stay is to actually do something with them. For example, want to be more productive and innovative at the same time? You don’t add more things to do to your schedule, you subtract things you already do and make room for the new things.

That means doing less in-person meetings and more teleconferencing. It means working from undisclosed locations. It means collaborating through social networks, not email. It means saying no to your old ideas and yes to new ones. It’s not cost cutting, it’s developing amnesia of what you believe to be true.

How to get started with subtraction? Much like developing new habits, making room for the new isn’t expensive, it just takes discipline. Start with small steps, experiment and see what happens. If it works, scale it. Or if you want to get more radical, kick your old thoughts, ideas and assumptions to the curb and start over with a fresh perspective.

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