By Trent Staats | President & Chief Operating Officer
Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” While his assertion still rings true today, simplicity is not enough to initiate change. There are hoards of inventions that are “simple” and make our lives easier and/or more fulfilling – yet many remain unused.
Case in Point 1: The Computer Keyboard
Nearly everyone today uses a computer keyboard. To be more specific, nearly everyone uses some form of a QWERTY keyboard. The name QWERTY comes from the first six letters in the top row of the keys. The QWERTY layout was developed in the 1800’s to solve the problem of key bars colliding when typing on a manual typewriter. QWERTY’s awkward layout of the keys, developed by Christopher Sholes, solved the “sticking key bar” problem by spreading out the frequently used letters and combinations to slow the user down. By slowing down the typist, the typewriter could function without jamming the keys.
Sholes’ design also put all the letters in the word “typewriter” in the top row so the typewriter salesman (yes, they were called “salesmen” back then) could demo their wares without having to hunt and peck for the requisite keys.
So the main user interface for today’s 1B+ computers was developed in the 1800’s.
Simplicity and Sophistication in a Keyboard
There’s a new keyboard in town called the Dvorak Keyboard. This advanced keyboard, also known as the Simplified Keyboard or the American Simplified Keyboard, was designed by Drs. August Dvorak and William Dealey.
The key difference (I couldn’t resist) is that the most commonly used letters and combinations are placed under the resting fingers as “home keys.” By so locating, Dvorak increased the percentage of typing on the home row from 31% to 70%. Similarly, the new layout requires 37% less finger travel, which is critical for reducing carpal tunnel syndrome and related ailments caused from repetitive motions.
So the Dvorak keyboard is unquestionably better. It’s easier. Faster. Ergonomically superior. It fits in the same space as every other keyboard ever made. Its sophistication lies in its simplicity. Now for the kicker… The Dvorak keyboard was developed in 1920’s. Yes the Dvorak keyboard has been around for nearly of 100 years without any significant use or adoption. It’s better. We know it. But we’re QWERTY bound.
Simplicity and Sophistication is Futile without Adoption
The other part of the simplicity equation, and perhaps the more important part, is adoption. Without adoption we’re left with orphaned innovations; such as the Dvorak keyboard. So what is adoption’s enemy? One word: Habit – Inertia – the status-quo (ok, three terms, but all synonyms). Real change requires us to embrace behaviors and/or beliefs that differ from those with which we are accustomed.
Case in Point 2: The New Model for Onsite Chemical Recycling
For 20+ years we have worked in chemical recycling to introduce new technologies, equipment and services that cut cost, reduce carbon footprints and eliminate hazardous waste. Throughout that time, we have witnessed the power of inertia to delay companies and individuals from embracing what is in their best interest – simply because it is different.
To combat companies stuck in “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mode, CleanPlanet used the power of simplicity to introduce its new chemical recycling service.
CleanPlanet’s game-changing service includes:
- Enabling customers to benefit from expensive technologies without having to make any up-front investment – Simple financial model.
- Technologies that are easier to use than your kids’ toys – Simple solution
- An, iron-clad performance guarantee that reduces chemical costs by 20%, while simultaneously reducing hazardous waste streams and their associated risks and liabilities – Simple value-proposition AND simple business relationship.
Put these together, and customers only pay for the chemicals they recover and use (at a significantly lower cost.) This new approach to onsite chemical recycling quickly attracted large organizations such as Lowes, Lockheed Martin, MIT, Michelin, and Siemens. However, the small-to-mid-sized organizations were slower to act. Decision makers in many of these firms understood the solution, how it worked and the value it provided, yet did not move forward with the risk free trial – at least not initially. Why? Resistance to change. We all like to think that facts drive decisions; however, that’s not the case. We can clearly see that the Dvorak keyboard is superior; yet I continue to use my QWERTY to create this blog post.
When Embracing Change, Size does Matter
If people are innately attracted to the status quo, then why did the larger companies adopt CleanPlanet’s chemical recycling service at a faster rate than the smaller organizations?
To answer this we must first understand that our resistance to change is innate; meaning we automatically prefer the familiar. This phenomenon is known as the mere-exposure effect.
While all decision-makers are pre-programmed with this resistance, managers in larger organizations are more comfortable with change because they are more often exposed to it. (Again, the mere-exposure effect.) Larger workforces, complex supply-chains, extended service areas and vast product offerings all compel frequent changes. Leaders in these organizations also know they must innovate and embrace solutions to keep their competitive advantage or risk losing market share to those that are more agile; more willing to change.
But embracing change takes more than just size. It takes guts. Albert Einstein said, “It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Successful leaders and decision makers know this all too well. Improvement requires change and change requires courage. Master change agents have overcome their innate aversion to change. They have learned to open their minds to new people, processes and technologies.
Simplicity in the Hands of the Courageous
CleanPlanet has learned that redefining how companies acquire and use chemicals is a two-part equation. First, the solution must align with da Vinci’s belief that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. By combining a service model that does not require up-front capital; provides recycling equipment that is easy to use; and guarantees cost reductions of 20%, CleanPlanet has satisfied part one. We’ve made it simple.
The second part of the equation is courage – The courage to do things differently. The courage to embrace change. To make a decision that cuts costs, reduces hazardous waste and protects the Earth’s natural resources.
Are you ready? CleanPlanet is.