“Simplicity is the glory of expression”

Walt Whitman, Renowned American Poet

My first job out of college was as a Software Engineer with IBM’s Software Group.  However, I never developed a line of code. My specific job title was ‘user-centered engineer’. My role was to help design the user interface of our software products, ensuring they were easy to use from the customer’s perspective. This involved a lot of listening, observation, and journey mapping through targeted customer engagement, usability testing, and prototyping, amongst other activities. During that period, I learned the critical importance of ‘being easy’ and how that perspective could be incorporated into every function – not just technology or software, but also processes, policies, and even relationships.

Today, I would like you to consider and reflect on three questions:

  1. How ‘easy’ is it to relate with you? Do people avoid engaging with you because of the level of contention they might face? Are you extremely sensitive, requiring a lot of thought and preparation before folks engage with you? One of the most defining characteristics of my closest friends is ‘ease’ – they are easy to be around. No drama, no stress, just easy to flow with. I highly recommend having people like that in your inner circle and, more importantly, becoming that person yourself. There are specific things you can do to become ‘easier’ to relate with: 1) Welcome feedback and do not take it personally.  2) Listen. Really listen.  3) Be teachable.  4) Communicate clearly (I know, a gamechanger!).
  2. How ‘easy’ is it to do business with you? Have you tried to get a product or service from a business where even reaching them is a challenge? Their contact information is published, but the number never works. When you send them a WhatsApp message, their chatbot asks, ‘how can I help you?’ but help never comes. Or consider the service provider who does good work but is extremely unreliable.  You know if they show up, it will be magic, but the showing up is a big ‘if’. Or the bank that still insists in 2024 that you need to come into the branch for ANYTHING at all. Or the report that requires a decision from you but only leaves you more confused after reading it. I’m sure you can add more examples to this list. If you are a business, and particularly one that desires to grow, focus on ensuring the critical steps that drive customer acquisition and generate revenue are easy for your target user. At times, the biggest barrier to non-consumption is ease.   
  3. How ‘easy’ have you made it to do the right thing? In implementing large-scale transformations in different sectors, I’ve learned that success and failure can be determined by how easy we make it to comply. Kigali in Rwanda decided to become the cleanest city in Africa, and they were intentional in taking steps to ‘make it easy’. Every last Saturday of each month, they close shops, and for three hours, everyone participates in cleaning up. Trash cans are everywhere, so instead of just saying “don’t litter”, they make it easy to dispose of trash. This short audio clip sums it up well.

I’ll encourage you to reflect on what ‘being easy’ means to you today and how you can embed ‘ease’ into your critical processes – personally, professionally, and in your business.  

What are some activities, processes you would love to see ‘made easy’?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours in Possibilities,

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