KISS – Keep It Simple and Smart

There is a well known saying, “keep it simple, stupid!”. However, in my job I keep running into the perception that simple IS stupid, and it’s caused me to doubt this saying, at least in its common format. It is common for an engineering argument to revolve around complex discussions of minute detail, and there is a general scepticism of anything that doesn’t come with at least 200 pages of appendices. I think that KISS needs to be recognised as Keep It Simple and Smart, and kept as far away from stupidity as possible, if the principle is to be realised.

From my point of view, it’s easy to create a complex, detailed solution, but very hard to check it for accuracy. However, an extremely simple solution is often considerably harder to envision but easy to ridicule. I often hear “that’s too simplistic, you haven’t included the effects of xxx or the works of Dr. Y ”, but will I will personally shout a round for every time I hear “that’s too complex, ditch the appendices, rewrite the report and come back with something more simple”. It’s like there is some maligning, black force in the world that destroys simplicity as soon as it comes in contact with criticism, adding detail and complexity until what was once beautiful, now just needs to be killed.

ugly idea


In short, Simple Smart ideas need to be accepted as possible, in fact, they need to be accepted as the best possible type of ideas. Sure, simple, stupid ideas need to be rubbished, but so do complex, stupid ideas. And remember, complex, stupid ideas are so much harder to track down and kill.

 team member
Matt Bishop

BE (Hons), CMEngNZ, CPEng, HVSC
Managing Director

m +64 21 661 748