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We, in no matter what kind of business we are in (but especially for logistics process improvement), have heard of the “KISS” method: “Keep it simple, stupid.” I do not agree with this interpretation, and changed it in my business to “Keep it simple AND stupid.” Keep it simple, stupid is negative, and a “put down” to others you may address, in my opinion.

People resist simplicity because they fear it. A simple idea makes us feel strange, especially when we are surrounded by peers who rely on complexity to mask their ignorance. We should be thinking in straightforward terms. You have to start cutting through ridiculous jargon. When asked to “dimensionalize a management decision’” you and your team can simply……create a plan.

The KISS method, naturally, is effective in simplifying and making the logistics process more productive.

Examples of the KISS Method in Logistics Process Improvement: Simple vs. Complex

logistics processIn the logistics process, communication between a shipper/customer and a logistics service provider is much clearer if you simplify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Quarterly Business Review (QBR) meeting agendas. Complexity can interfere with communication and meeting your mutual goals.

Simplicity in Manufacturing and Distribution is displayed in “A place for everything and everything in its place.” This simplistic statement is replaced by 5S and complex study of a LEAN initiative: Sort-Set In Order-Shine-Standardize and Sustain. A “Pull” System becomes Kanban a sophisticated, complex system using signal cards to minimize inventory to meet customer requirements.

To think in simple, common sense terms for logistics process improvement, you must begin to follow these guidelines:

  • Get your ego out of the situation: good judgment is based on reality.
  • You’ve got to avoid wishful thinking: stay in tune with the way things are really going: it is what it is.
  • You’ve got to be better at listening: common sense by definition is based on what others think.
  • Good common sense is based on the experiences of many, not the wishful thinking of some.

Fight against “fog” and gain clarity:

  • Keep sentences short
  • Pick the simple word over a complex word (Remember logistics process involves a LOT of communication!).

Examples of Possible Complex Phrases in the Logistics Process, With a “Simple” Replacement 

  • accurate: use correct, exact, right;
  • allocate: use divide;
  • demonstrate: use prove, show;
  • discontinue: use drop, stop;
  • expiration: use end;
  • forfeit: use give up, lose;
  • implement: use carry out, start;
  • promulgate: use issue, publish

Guideline to Choosing the “Simplest” Word for Logistics Process

  • Choose the familiar word
  • Avoid unnecessary words
  • Put action in your verbs
  • Write like you talk (I’m talking in this article now…and hence the rise of blogs!)
  • Use terms those in the process of logistics (or those handling your freight and receiving) can picture
  • Tie in with your freight players’ experience
  • Write to express, not to impress

The Problem with Too Much Information and Too Complex (And how it Can Hurt Effective Logistics Process)

When people get overloaded with too much information, there are four (4) specific behavior changes that you can expect to happen:

  1. logistics process keep it simple or they get boredCan’t respond.
    People get to a point where they can’t respond anymore.  It’s almost as if you can see the doors closing behind their eyes as they tune out.  If you are really bad you can see their eyes close as they fight off going to sleep (imagine if a drive was unable to remember your specific instructions because you over complicated your communication?!)
  2. Irritated or bored.
    People who are overloaded with too much information go into one of two emotional states: either get irritated or they get bored. Can you imagine two worse emotional states to put prospects in? We all know you want to engage your prospects on an emotional level, but those are not the two emotions you want. (When working with suppliers on inbound logistics, you want them to be engaged in order to drive long term value!)
  3. “So what?”
    When you give your prospects too much information they begin to ask “so what?” Why are you telling me all this?  Is there really any value to what you are saying? (And like irritated or bored, in the logistics process, instead of collaboration which yields improvement, you get the tuned out effect.)
  4. No action.
    The worst thing that can happen when you overload your prospects with too much information is that they can no longer make a decision.  And that is the biggest killer when you are trying to sell something, plan anything, or aim for a specific result.

This blog article is dedicated to the overwhelmed and confused who sense that there is a simpler way to communicate. Complexity is not to be admired in the logistics process , it’s to be avoided where possible (not to be confused with attention to detail however). Do you know who said, “You must draw on language, logic and simple common sense to determine essential issues and establish a concrete course of action?” it was Abraham Lincoln himself.

And, there’s nothing wrong with complexity. There is a place for complexity, especially in IT and social media. Just look at the complexity of programming language. In social media they call KISS: Keep it Significant and Shareable.

We use simple three (3) letter symbols (or acronyms to be “complex”) for complex systems like: ERP for Enterprise Resource Planning; TMS for Transportation Management Systems; WMS for Warehouse Management Systems; YMS for Yard Management Systems; EDI for Electronic Data Interface, so the simple three letter symbols represent large word systems, so they do not have to be written out each time for simplicity’s sake.

In journalism, it is Keep it Short, Stupid. Getting things short and to the point us the most important thing we should keep in mind in our personal or professional lives. In writing or speaking. From grade school to high school to college to our job.

Long-winded stuff loses the attention of listeners, readers, viewers, friends, even family. That’s true in one-on-one discussions, group gatherings or the mass media.

Audience Participation: How do you feel about the KISS method and simplicity? What are your experiences with simplicity/complexity? Have you ever tried employing the KISS method in logistics process improvement?