We’re very good at adding complexity to our lives, and to our businesses. We think by doing more things, we’ll get to our required destination.
But often, it takes us further away.
When Bill Clinton ran for the US presidency in 1992 he was the clear outsider.
George H. W. Bush was considered unbeatable because of his extensive foreign policy experience.
But in 1992, with the country deep in recession, there were more pressing problems at home.
During the campaign Clinton made a speech in which he pontificated about all aspects of policy from balanced budgets to healthcare.
The Washington Post recorded that “Clinton talked about everything and therefore nothing”.
The following day democratic strategist James Carville famously posted a large sign in the campaign’s “war room” that read: “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Carville wanted to remind his candidate and those working for him to keep their focus single-minded and where he felt it belonged: the economy.
That was the single most important issue the public cared about; it became the campaign mantra and subsequently part of the American political lexicon.
Clinton’s message resonated and captured the mood of the public. He went on to win the election.
The moral of the story… if you want your message to travel far, complexity is not a good thing. So keep it simple, not stupid.
Say one thing well.