Thursday, 25 June 2015

Minimalism gives you more

Minimalism gives you more of what you need and less of what you don't. Less distraction, less wasted time and less clutter.
Single speed and fixed gear bicycles give you more:

They give you less weight, less breakdowns and less worries.
  • flexibility
  • reliability
  • control
They “… are stripped to the bare requirements of pedalling, steering and rolling.” (Big ShotCustom Single Speed Bikes)

Minimalism in business gives you more:
  • efficiency = profit
  • clarity
  • time
It gives you less stress, less distraction and less frustration.

Minimalism in IT gives you more speed, faster learning, less errors and more capacity for the things you really need. Which all adds up to more profit.

What is Minimalism?

 Before we look at what minimalism is, let's look at what it's not. It is not some cult like movement, where devotees live in bark huts, with no modern appliances and cook their organic oatmeal and stinging nettle soup on small fires made from fallen twigs.
Leo Babauta is considered a guru of minimalism. He says minimalism is, "… to only have what you need and not too much more, and to not focus so much on consumption but more on doing the things you love…"
 
He lives in a normal house with his wife and seven children, but focuses more on doing things than on having things.

It's really about separating what's essential from what is not and then getting rid of the non-essential stuff. Whether that’s paper on your desk or functionality on your computer.

Less is More

Minimalism is less of a … style and more of a principle that has endured for almost a century. ‘Less is more’ is the widely-adopted guiding principle of minimalism.” (Kevin Mark Rabida)

When we introduce a system with minimal functionality, we can be more productive more of the time. And it's easier to train people, because there is less to teach them. They reach peak efficiency faster. They are more confident from the start and therefore learn faster and make fewer mistakes.

The lack of redundant functionality forces us to focus on the essentials.

For example, why would you create a presentation slide? Obviously so people can read and understand it."

Have you ever seen a slide like this?


If you only had black and white available, your slide would have to be different, but more effective. 



Bloatware

Bloatware has long been the scourge of the IT world. It chews up computer resources and slows systems until you start to wonder whether it would be quicker with a pencil and paper. It locks systems up and even causes crashes.

Every update seems to add more bloatware to the system, until you reach the point, where you have to call in an expert to get rid of it.

Modern apps do try to overcome the problem and it’s easier now to find lean apps than it was, say, 10 years ago. But you still have to be on your guard against bloatware. If bloatware is a problem, you might need to replace some applications.

 

Junk

Accumulating junk on your computer is like bloatware.

Sometimes you need to install two apps with similar features, just to get the one feature from each, that the other doesn't have. A good example of this is a well-known suite which includes a desktop publisher and a presentation application. Most of their functionalities are similar, but if you do printed presentations and slide presentations, you need both, creating a lot of duplicated functionality.

This is not classed as traditional bloatware, but it has the same effect. It chews up resources, and more importantly often forces you to duplicate your efforts, instead of being able to configure one file for either purpose.

 

Doesn't SaaS in the Cloud solve this?

Cloud applications do solve the problem of excessive memory use, but just being in the cloud doesn't mean that they solve all the problems. They don't address the duplication issue, nor the distractions of having excess functionality.

Deflating bloatware and getting rid of junk require a minimalist approach, as well as a cloud solution.

 

Minimalism in the cloud

The cloud offers great opportunities to rid ourselves of clutter.

We can choose which applications, and even which functions we need and ignore the rest.

Even better, we can use open source, bespoke software to tailor an application to our exact needs.

When we adopt a minimalist approach, some things do have to change. But with open source, bespoke software the important necessities don't. We can eliminate duplication and inefficiencies, but keep our effective applications and practices that we have become used to.

Efficiency

Just Creative says that, in web design, minimalism, “… is mostly concerned with stripping away excess and strategically placing remaining elements.” This applies equally to applications because there is less opportunity to accidentally hit the wrong button and cause some kind of unpredictable chaos. And because the remaining buttons are where people expect them to be.

Minimalism, in apps, improves efficiency, which boosts the bottom line.

What is the minimum?

The minimum is what your organisation needs for peak efficiency. There is no arbitrary benchmark.

You can only answer this question after careful analysis of your aims and your current performance. Even then, you might need to test some alternatives before you know the final answer.

 

But we don’t have time for mucking around and testing

You think you’re too busy to step back and do analysis and testing. That's the very reason you should do it.

If you’re too busy to think about how to improve your business, you need to step back immediately and assess the situation, before you run your business, your workers and yourself into oblivion.

The louder the “too busy” protest, the more urgent it is to stop and assess.

What are Key Performance Indicators?

F John Reh says, “Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are ... measurements, agreed to beforehand, that reflect the critical success factors of an organisation. They will differ depending on the organisation.”

He also says that they must:
  • reflect the organisational goals 
  • be quantifiable
A minimalist approach would strip goals and KPIs back to their bare essentials, so the organisation would focus only on what was necessary.

Bernard Marr identifies 75 KPIs Every Manager Needs to Know. He divides them into six groups.

You need to decide which ones are essential to your minimalist organisation and only adopt them.

 

A step by step solution

  1. Commit to a minimalist approach.
  2. Sell” the concept to your staff. You need the support of everyone. Create enthusiasm which will drag the sceptics along.
  3. Identify your goals and KPIs.
  4. Measure your performance against your KPIs.
  5. Develop a strategy to introduce the changes you need.
  6. Do it!

Are you ready to get rid of the clutter?

If you have already committed to a minimalist approach, use the comments section to share your experiences.

If not, the challenge is to take that first step and then proceed at a pace which suits your organisation. Too fast and people will resist. Too slow and nothing will change.

Consider nuBuilder and nuSoftware for your software applications. They are open source, bespoke software, which will allow you to keep only what you need. But if your needs change in future, you can change your software with minimal fuss.

Picture Credit:Pitor Mamnaimie, Rail Fence

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