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Rethink the way you simplify to add more value to your message

Generally, we can all agree on the idea that “simpler is better,” right? I feel like this is especially true for us in the tech marketing world, but it applies to pretty much everything.

One of my favorite quotes is about simplifying, and it comes from Albert Einstein: “Genius is making complex ideas simple. Not making simple ideas complex.”

Well said. But is simplification really genius? I suppose it depends on the context (I could simplify fantasy football, probably not advanced physics…), but making things simpler doesn’t seem like an advanced concept to me – at least on the surface. In fact, you could argue it’s a common skill that many of us who work in the tech industry have. Marketing things like machine learning or microservices would be pretty difficult otherwise.

Making things easy to understand is key to sharing ideas – whether it’s a new product, a scientific theory, or anything in between. And to do that, we must remove complexity. But I think it’s important to understand the difference between removing complexity and reframing it.

Removing complexity makes it easier to explain what an idea is; reframing complexity makes it easier to explain the core concept of that idea.

This is the difference between describing something like the cloud, for example, as “virtual IT infrastructure” and “virtual IT infrastructure available on-demand.” Both are technically correct, but the second statement speaks more to the core point of the cloud, whereas the first statement simply defines what the cloud is. Both approaches are effective, depending on the context – but it’s important to understand there’s a difference.

I think this is what Einstein was getting at when he (allegedly) described simplifying as being “genius.” Not that it takes a genius to do it, but that when done the right way, it can deliver more impact by conveying the purpose of an idea along with its definition.

So, the next time you’re trying to simplify a complicated idea – whether for work or personal reasons—think about what you’re really trying to accomplish. Do you want to make it easier to explain, or easier to see the point of it? I don’t think there’s necessarily a wrong answer but knowing when and how to simplify can have a huge impact on you and your audience and bring a lot more value to your work, so it’s worth a thought.

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