Simple ideas with familiar themes work best

Why is “simple” so difficult?

Making concepts and ideas simple is the art of great story tellers and effective leaders. The ability to communicate complex thoughts so that a large number of people can understand is the key to creating a movement. That is what great art does for us. That is what a great marketing campaign can do for a brand. That is what a disruptive entrepreneur can do in front of potential investors and employees.

So, why are we all guilty of making our ideas so complex? Why do we over-engineer our thoughts? One reason is because we’ve thought about our ideas internally for too long. We are interested in over-explaining the twists and turns of our thought process. In reality, the audience wants to first quickly understand the idea before investing in any time hearing about the process of the journey to the idea.

Another reason is that we want to sound smart. Many think that if the idea sounds too simple, it will not be appreciated. If the idea is truly good enough to be simple, it will be appreciated.

People are generally lazy when it comes to understanding new concepts. Majority of us want some familiar reference point relative to a new idea. It is very difficult to digest and comprehend truly new concepts otherwise. This is also true with music as all of us gravitate toward  familiar songs and melodies. In order to introduce a new song with potential, radio stations will play this new song sandwiched between the most popular songs during its introduction period until the audience becomes familiar with the song. In business, any innovative idea needs to be simple enough for  an easy comparison with some other idea that is familiar to us.  Therefore, defining a “new space’ is a very, very difficult proposition.

Recently, I’ve been driving toward “disrupting” the Market Research space with the usage of the social data set. While I still believe that such a disruption is inevitable, it will not happen overnight. Rather than proclaiming that our innovative product will make such a disruption, a better strategy would have been to compare our solution with successful existing industry offerings and highlighting our key differentiators.