The KISS Principle

Image courtesy of peddhapati's photostream

Image courtesy of peddhapati’s photostream

The US Navy adopted the KISS principle in the 1960’s.  It is most commonly thought to represent Keep It Simple, Stupid.  The intention is not to imply that people are stupid but to remind us that systems typically work best if they are simple to learn, understand, and adapt.

I am not a huge fan of the word stupid so I tend to use the KISS acronym to represent, Keep it Simple, Silly.  If something is not simple to learn, understand, and adapt it probably won’t be very successful.  For example, recently I ordered a product online.  I received a follow-up email from the company asking me to leave an online review and if I did, I would be offered a code for a free product.

In order to take advantage of this opportunity I had to:

1.    Log into the site
2.    Leave a comment
3.    Wait for the comment to be approved and posted
4.    Log back into the site
5.    Take a picture of my posted comment
6.    Email the picture, but not as a reply to the original email
7.    Wait for a coupon code email
8.    Click a link
9.    Enter my original order number
10.    Select a product
11.    Enter in my contact information
12.    Wait 4-6 weeks for delivery

All of this for a free product, valued at under $10.00.  I would have been more likely to leave a comment if they just asked me too, without any reward, as I really did like the product.  But by over complicating the process, I was completely turned off and tuned out.

Maybe the process was so complicated in an effort to reduce the number of free product giveaways.  If that was the goal, then the promotion was highly successful.  But I tend to believe that the goal was to increase their online reviews.  Did it work?  I cannot say for sure but it certainly did not work with me.

Keep the KISS approach in mind when offering your customers or employees an incentive.  Determine your ultimate goal.  Is it increased sales?  Increased traffic to your website?  Increased loyalty?  And then look at the process you have set in place.    Is it simple to learn, understand, and adapt?  Will it truly help you reach your goal?  If not, think of a way to simplify it for success.


  1. Thanks Barbara. I always enjoy reading your posts.

    This is very true. I use the KISS phrase often.

    Have a great day! Stay warm.

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