There are two important ways to innovate.
The first approach is addition: If you add an engine to a carriage, you have created a car.
The second approach is subtraction: If you eliminate a complicated restaurant menu, you have a created a fast-food service.
Subtraction is often the superior approach to innovation.
- It’s easier to do.
- It creates new opportunities: Complicated meals take a massive effort to design, cook, and serve. This effort can be used to improve and speed up a small set of simple dishes to improve margins and revenue instead.
- It makes you more robust. In turbulent times, such as pandemics, market crashes, or labor shortages, simplicity trumps complexity.
With this in mind, it’s surprising that most of us associate progress with adding things to our life: We add regulations, procedures, software features, controls, activities, communication, people, real estate, etc.
Adding stuff is simple.
The hallmark of true innovation is obsessive elimination.
Keep this in mind when you feel the urge to add more things to solve an issue.