Innovate For Simplicity – Grow Great Daily Brief #115 – December 5, 2018

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I’ve been putting audio online since 1997. Podcasting since it first began. Over a decade ago I created The Yellow Studio, a home office and podcasting studio. When I assembled the studio I had two options of workflow: recording or broadcasting. I choose to go the broadcasting route because I didn’t want to do a bunch of post-production work, meaning I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time editing. The broadcast workflow is like live radio. You do the work upfront, preparing before you ever hit record. It’s live broadcasting without an audience…until you release your recording.

To do a broadcast workflow required more money. The equipment was largely intended for radio stations because…well, they’re in the broadcasting business. It’s hardware-intensive to do it the way I’ve done it for years. And the hardware ain’t cheap, but it lasts and lasts and lasts.

I’ve got 5 pieces of gear in my equipment rack. I’ve got the main mixer and a side mixer. And who knows how many feet of cabling. The cabling and connectivity is nightmarish. But when I created the studio there was simply no other option if you wanted to create a broadcast workflow, which was a non-negotiable for me.

Through the years a number of solutions have been offered by various manufacturers, but none have checked all the boxes of what a seasoned podcaster might want or need. None have made me envious enough to ditch my current set up because they haven’t simplified things enough to warrant me dismantling my set up, selling my existing stuff and reworking things. None have been simple and straightforward enough to give me the benefits I want and let me maintain or better yet, simplify my longtime workflow. Until now…

There’s at least one product coming out this month – after years of others trying – that may just do the job. We’ll see. I’m going to be watching it very closely to see if it will do what I’ve been longing for for years.

Simplicity is a common theme around here. So is innovation. They go hand in hand.

Most of us own and operate businesses that are not on the bleeding edge of technology. We typically don’t have billion dollar R&D labs cranking out a variety of potential game changers. I read over the weekend that the CEO of Novartis announced a new drug, which goes by the name AVXS-101. It saves lives of kids with a deadly disease called spinal muscular atrophy. It takes only one injection of the drug, but it costs $4 million for that one dose. Talk about innovating for simplicity – one injection, done. Cha-ching, FOUR MILLION DOLLARS.

I can be easily obsessed with simplicity because it’s a great weapon against customer or client friction. Take my podcasting challenge. Two mixers, five or more pieces of hardware and lots of cabling. Lots of friction for me, but when there are few (or no) options, you do what you have to do. Most of us operate businesses where we’ve got plenty of competition. Our customers won’t likely tolerate any more friction than necessary to get what they want.

Do It For Your Customers

We’re not innovating for any other reason. The goal to simplify things is so we can make it easier for our customers to buy from us. And easier for them to benefit from whatever we do for them. Plus it’s far more pleasant an experience.

Think about the basic customer experiences of contacting customer service. Let me pick on one of my all-time favorite bad customer experience companies, DIRECTV. They’re world-class in pathetic customer service. From complicated pricing where they love to inch up your bill every few months. To their woefully poor phone customer service where you have to jump through hoop after hoop to simply get something done. They seem to intentionally build in resistance (friction) everywhere they can. It’s evident they believe by making things more complex they’ll pad their profits. Banking on customers to not scrutinize a monthly bill and the loss of a discount, they seem to figure customers will just blindly pay the increased bill, giving them higher profits. Maybe so. But it won’t be enough to overcome the loss of customers who simply walk away.

DIRECTV continues to lose customers to their traditional service. It’s only overcome by the addition of customers to their streaming service. I’m a customer and I can attest that the experience has always been terrible, but like my podcasting studio…I’m just waiting for the time when I can kick them to the curb. I’ve got my eye solidly set on 2019 for making that happen and I’ve been a DIRECTV customer from the beginning. My loyalty is non-existent though because they make doing business with them so difficult.

What About You?

Do you have complexities where they don’t need to be?

Do customers have to jump through hoops to do business with you?

Dig into every place (every possible way) where you can innovate for simplicity so your customers can benefit?

You should experience the complexity instead of making your customers experience it. Many businesses do it in reverse. Like DIRECTV, too many companies focus on how they can make their own lives or businesses more profitable or easier when they should understand the path to success is making everything as easy as possible for the customer.

Win the customer by making it easy. Every industry and business can do this better.

Car dealers, why does it take 4 hours for a customer to buy a car from you?

Furniture dealers, why does it take 2 days for a customer to get their purchase delivered?

Gas stations, why can’t you make sure there’s windshield cleaner liquid in every dispenser and paper towels? And while you’re at it, paper in the receipt printer?

We run into snags everywhere we look. In every industry. I’m challenging you to be the leader in your industry to make things simple. Innovate for simplicity!

Be well. Do good. Grow great!