Dominating the headlines this week has been the Pope Francis, caricatured as the “socialist” Pope for his outspoken views on the excesses of Capitalism. But it could just be that “Less is More” is not just an altruistic one, but a self-interested one too. The mantra of “Do more with less” has been a staple of business plans for ages. And the Pope’s quote above could describes an number of corporate disfunctions leading to bureaucratic bloat and unsustainable complexity.
Basecamp’s wrote a fine piece hailing the virtues of “less” – “Less as a competitive advantage” …
- “Conventional wisdom says to beat your competitors you need to one-up them. If they have 4 features, you need 5. Or 15. Or 25. If they’re spending X, you need to spend XX. If they have 20, you need 30. While this strategy may still work for some, it’s expensive, resource intensive, difficult, defensive, and not very satisfying. And I don’t think it’s good for customers either. It’s a very Cold War mentality — always trying to one-up. When everyone tries to one-up, we all end up with too much. There’s already too much ‘more’ — what we need are simple solutions to simple, common problems, not huger solutions to huger problems. What I’d like to suggest is a different approach. Instead of one-upping, try one-downing. Instead of outdoing, try underdoing. Do less than your competitors to beat them.”
- Less Money. Money doesn’t buy you time and money doesn’t buy you passion.
- Less People. Don’t scale up your headcount to match your proposed feature set and vision, instead scale down your feature set and initial vision to match your headcount.
- Less Time. The more time you have the more time you have to waste — and it’s likely you’ll waste more than you use. When you have less time, you’ll spend it more wisely.
- Less Abstractions. Less boxes and arrows. Less charts. Less documentation. Less stuff that is abstracted from the real thing — the real product your actual customers will see.
- Less Software. 100% of your time across 20 things via 100% of your time across 10 things will result in a very strong 10 things. And that’s the kind of software that is satisfying to build, and satisfying to use: simple, focused, useful software that’s really polished. And that’s how you win these days.
- More Constraints That’s where you’re forced to be creative. That’s where you’re squeezed to make better use of your money, your people, your time. And out of this squeeze will come better software, more satisfying software, and simpler solutions.
The piece says “More Constraints” could it be re-worded as “Less Freedom” or “Less Free-For-All”.
Seth Godin has been echoing a similar business message of “less is more” on many occasions. One of his recurring themes is that companies and their marketeers are challenged by a marketplace where surplus not scarcity is both the norm and the challenge…
- “When you show me a business plan, a wireframe, a features list… whatever you’re building, it’s not enough to talk about what’s there. Tell us what’s not there. Tell us what you’re choosing not to do, what you’re not supporting, who you’re not interested in working with.” – Seth Godin, “What’s Not Here”