Book Notes
Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success
Ken Segall

Insane­ly Sim­ple is a look at what makes Apple’s design process so unique: the com­mit­ment to sim­plic­i­ty over all else. In this book Ken, a key mem­ber of Chi­at Day (the ad agency that pro­duced some of Apple’s great­est mar­ket­ing efforts), high­lights 10 key take­aways that make Apple successful.

The book is good, but has a fair amount of fluff, and rep­e­ti­tion. The sto­ries about Apple, and the goings on behind the scenes are very interesting.

The 10 Ways to Harness the power of Simplicity:

Think Bru­tal. Be bru­tal­ly hon­est with those around you, and they will do the same for you. Remove the guess­work of what you are think­ing for oth­ers by being straight with them. 

Think Small. Cham­pi­on the impor­tance of small groups. Work gets done when there’s direct con­nec­tion between team­mates, and fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the final deci­sion mak­er and the project team. Be skep­ti­cal of mul­ti-lev­el hier­ar­chies. The qual­i­ty of work result­ing from a project is inverse­ly pro­por­tion­al to the num­ber of peo­ple involved in the project. Small groups make for strong rela­tion­ships. Cre­ativ­i­ty is about bring­ing ideas to the table, and not being afraid of them get­ting shot down. Be a stew­ard for creativity.

Think Min­i­mal. Focus on one thing. Every time you com­mu­ni­cate mul­ti­ple ideas, you dilute the core idea. If you must con­vey mul­ti­ple ideas, find a uni­fy­ing theme to bring them all togeth­er. A sea of choic­es is no choice at all. Lever­age what’s real­ly spe­cial. Get rid of the crap­py stuff, and focus on the good stuff. Being com­pli­cat­ed is easy. Sim­plic­i­ty requires seri­ous work. 

Peo­ple think focus means say­ing yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. It means say­ing no to the hun­dreds of good ideas that there are. You have to pick care­ful­ly… inno­va­tion is say­ing no to a thou­sand things.

Steve Jobs

Think Motion. Keep things mov­ing quick­ly. Adding more time to the sched­ule to be com­fort­able results in more opin­ions and com­mit­tees. Find a way to make things hap­pen now. Aim real­is­ti­cal­ly high, and nev­er stop mov­ing. Three months is a good time­line that bal­ances pres­sure and quality.

Think Icon­ic. Use imagery to sym­bol­ize your idea, or the spir­it behind it. What­ev­er you are doing whether it be pre­sent­ing, cre­at­ing, or sell­ing prod­ucts, make sure you lever­age the pow­er of the image. A con­cep­tu­al image gives peo­ple some­thing to under­stand and remember.

Think Phrasal. The best way to make your­self or your com­pa­ny look smart is to describe your self sim­ply, with per­fect clar­i­ty. Use sim­ple and nat­ur­al prod­uct names.

“As long as you are pre­sent­ing new ideas, you are free to present the old ones”

Ken Segall

Think Casu­al. Strive for small, less hier­ar­chi­cal, casu­al meet­ings. For­mal pre­sen­ta­tions are great for knowl­edge trans­fer, but they won’t inspire, or bring a team clos­er togeth­er. The best way to become a big busi­ness is to oper­ate with the cul­ture of a small business.

Think Human. Speak with a human voice—it’s the sim­plest way to con­nect with oth­ers. Behind every tar­get group is a human being.

Think Skep­ti­cal. Expect the first reac­tion to be neg­a­tive. Believe that oth­ers can work mir­a­cles, instead of get­ting hung up on those who tell you no. See facts and opin­ions in con­text. Don’t be afraid to shoul­der short term cost, if it means long term ben­e­fit is pos­si­ble. Weigh con­text, and decide accordingly—others may not have access to the same infor­ma­tion you do. 

Think War. Extreme times call for extreme mea­sures. When every­thing is on the line, go the extra mile to ensure suc­cess. Use every avail­able weapon, weigh the odds in your favour. The pas­sion for your idea is valu­able ammo, use it.