“What if we removed parts of it?”
Taking Out: Removing an interfering part or property from an object, or focusing on the only necessary part or property of an object.
AirBNB and Uber
If I told you ten years ago that the secret to running a temporary accommodation company was to have no property, and the secret to running a taxi service was to have no taxis, you probably would have nodded and backed away slowly. These companies have business models that take out the physical components of their services and focus entirely on the abstract level above, creating a marketplace.
How much can you take out of your business and still have it be viable? What is core to your mission and what can be partnered? Instead of thinking about how to do more with less, can you do more with nothing?
Just in time delivery
It is common among manufacturers to partner closely with its suppliers to ensure that parts arrive just before they are needed. In effect they outsource their inventory control.
Muntzing is the term given the practice pioneered by Earl “Madman” Muntz, a self-taught electrical engineer who focused on reducing the parts count inside electronic devices to their minimum. This reduced complexity, cost, power consumption and often improved reliability.
An example of this is the new cellular-enabled Apple Watch which has the SIM card built in, eliminating the majority of weight and bulk of the component and its slot.
Apple is both lauded and notorious for removing components with each new version of hardware. Optical drive, HDMI port, USB port, microphone port? Gone, gone, gone, gone. The end result is a simpler, lighter, cheaper to produce product.
“Great design is eliminating all unnecessary details.” Minh D. Tran
“I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter.” Mark Twain
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Steve Jobs
As I stumble across real world examples of this Inventive Principle in action I add them here.
What problems do you face that eliminating all unnecessary details could help solve? Have you used this principle before?