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The Simplicity Cycle

A Field Guide to Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


The award-winning engineer, Air Force lieutenant colonel, and author of F.I.R.E offers a road map for designing winning new products, services, and business models, and shows how to avoid complexity-related pitfalls in the process. With a foreword by design guru Don Norman.

Humans make things every day, whether it’s composing an e-mail, cooking a meal, or constructing the Mars Rover. While complexity is often necessary in the development process, unnecessary complexity adds complications. The Simplicity Cycle provides the secret to striking the proper balance. Dan Ward shines a light on how complexity affects the things we make for good or ill, taking us on a journey through the process of making things, with a particular focus on identifying and avoiding complexity-related pitfalls.

The standard development process involves increasing complexity to improve the outcome, Ward explains. The problem comes when the complexity starts getting in the way—but often we don’t know where that point is until we pass it. He suggests a number of techniques for identifying the problem and fixing it, including how to overcome several types of wrongheaded thinking—such as the idea that complexity and quality are the same. In clear, compelling language, and using his trademark mix of examples from research, personal experience, and pop culture, Ward offers a universal concept, visually described with a single, evolving diagram.

Ideal for business leaders and technologists, The Simplicity Cycle is helpful for anyone looking to simplify and improve everything we do, whether we work in an office, at home, or at the Pentagon.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 09, 2015 – Ward (F.I.R.E.) an Air Force lieutenant colonel, offers an original yet unsatisfying look at how simplicity can improve the usability and beauty of a product. The book proceeds from the observation that the add-ons intended to improve products too often end up weighing them down. Ward admits that we shouldn't be striving for simplicity as the end goal; we should be striving for quality. But simplicity, in his opinion, is a good path there, and aiming for it can help us strike the right balance. Ward's intent is to help readers figure out that critical point at which additions become detrimental. Focusing heavily on design, Ward presents concepts that can be plotted on a simple Cartesian plane, such as the simplification slope and the negative goodness slope. Readers may well respond to Ward's genuine-seeming optimism and enthusiasm, as in his exhortation to "head out into the unknown and make something beautiful," but his intriguing ideas are ultimately not specific enough to make for a successful business manual. Broadly aimed and highly theoretical, this is a book that feels more like a magazine article run amok.
The Simplicity Cycle
View in iTunes
  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Marketing & Sales
  • Published: May 12, 2015
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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