If Simplicity Sells, Why Aren’t We Keeping Things Simple?

I read a brief but poignant piece by Chris Brogan last week  in which he discussed the importance (and somewhat lost art) of simplicity when it comes to running a successful business. If you’re even a semi-frequent reader of this blog, you know how much I value simplicity and that I am a big advocate of the ‘less is more‘ mindset. This is why Brogan’s post caught my attention, and he raises an interesting point:

If you run a hotel, the business is this: fill beds with happy guests. Everything is geared around that. We can add “at a reasonable operating margin” to pretty much every business, including the hotel business. Restaurants: serve as many meals as possible per hour. TV: get as many viewers per show, and charge ad rates accordingly. Business is simple. We make it complicated for some unknown reason. – Chris Brogan

What causes the loss in focus?

Chris is dead-on. My question: Why do we complicate things? Where did we get off course? What causes us to lose focus on the simple delivery and instead get caught up in everything else?

Why not focus on what you do best instead of paying so much attention to what’s going on around you? As Brogan says, “no one ever won a race looking sideways”.

Competition can serve as motivation, but on the same token can be an ugly distraction and a complete waste of time, causing us to lose sight of the ‘end goal’.

Everything starts simple, but somehow, someway, things get complicated. Even still, I think we can all agree that simplicity is beautiful.

As the end user of a product or service that is being provided to us, all we care about is that it meets our needs/wants and does what it’s supposed to do, right?

Is ‘simple’ good enough?

Or is that all? Is simple out the window because our expectations are higher? Because the bar continues to be raised? Because ‘meeting’ wants and needs is no longer good enough?

One of the commenter’s made an excellent point in his response to Chris’ post:

Simple doesn’t just often win, it almost always wins! Look at 37signals, they keep it very simple. Look at Christmas morning when the kids are playing with the box instead of the toy. If businesses produced what “we” want instead of what “they” want, it would be simple, but functional.

What do you think? Is simple the key to success? If so, why are things so complicated? What can you do or what would you suggest to simplify your business?