It has begun increasingly apparent to me recently that far too many business are trying to do too much with their products. Why does my microwave need that many features? Why does my media player have so many unnecessary options and still suck at playing music? The list could go on forever.

If you sit and think about it, the things you don’t like using often try to do too much. They fail to accomplish any real innovation because they cannot focus on the specific tasks they are intended to improve. I think the problem lies with companies having misplaced incentives. “What is the main goal of your company?” you ask. “To innovate and improve the way we do things with technology” they reply. What most of them really mean is that they want to make money. Well, you’re putting too much thought into how you can make a profit instead of doing what will, in the long run, produce the best end result as a product and long lasting business now aren’t you? Focus on doing a single task, and do it right. If that works out, then you’re golden. Go ahead and continue to improve upon what you’ve created, but do it in the same mindset, build upon it from different angles, but don’t forget what your intentions are.

You could make this argument about any competing products, for example Myspace vs Facebook. Myspace tried to do too much and Facebook took a simpler approach to connect people. Even look at Facebook early on versus itself now. It’s become much simpler, disallowing applications by third parties that were, for the most part, purely driven by seeking ad revenue. You can apply this to much more than business. The best website themes are often the most functional. Gmail is simplistic and very usable; Facebook is clean but elegant. This is also a major reason why open source products are so much better than proprietary ones. Without continuously worrying about how they’re going to make money, they’re able to focus, listen to their users, and innovate. Proprietary software has to bend their plans in order to continue keeping up with this innovation by copying off of them. It’s not often that a product from Microsoft shows true innovation in an area unless there are few competing open source projects. Microsoft Office might be one of the applications that has showed innovation because they have become such a market leader for office software. Even projects like OpenOffice currently cannot compete with Office on a business level because of the lack of features, but it’s only a matter of time before OOo is able to out do Office in many ways where it will be able to successfully start replacing Office in businesses. It’s already begun to have an incredibly strong home user backing.

In the end, I want everyone to go out and apply this to life and work. Instead of doing things “the way it’s always been done”, challenge yourself and try to use that simplicity to innovate and improve upon whats already out there. No reason to reinvent the wheel right?

comments powered by Disqus