Blog, Project Management

Simplicity equals Success

Interesting story in the Wall Street Journal’s Business Technology Section titled “Keeping it Simple Pays for a Champion Coder“.

The article points to the winner of a recent TopCoder Competition and points to his strategy for winning:

Roberts tells the Business Technology Blog that he spent the first hour reading through the project’s requirements and asking “at least 30 questions” of the person who wrote those requirements.

Once he understood exactly what was required, he set about designing a system that met those requirements – and nothing else. Competitors get extra points for bells and whistles, but Roberts knew that any time spent designing extra features would come at the expense of more basic functions. Instead, he focused on making sure his software worked and that he finished by the deadline, which he did – by three minutes.

This is a perfect example of the power of simplicity and software projects. It also points out how important it is to understand the requirements in your project.

Rather than just diving into the work and coding, Roberts took his time to understand the requirements in detail and got any clarifications that he felt he needed. He then set about delivering exactly what was asked for. Not More…not Less.

Roberts kept things simple while delivering a product that was of some value to the judges.

How often do we see projects fail because we try to stuff more complex requirements into a product/project? (hint: it happens a lot!).

Next time you kick off a project, think about Tim Roberts and his ‘keep it simple’ approach and see if it helps. I’m betting that it will.

About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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Eric D. Brown
16 years ago

I agree. If you can find a simpler way to do things, that’s usually the best method.

16 years ago

I live by the old IBM ad: “Simple Good, Complex Bad”.


[…] pointing at in his post.  This is also what I’ve been trying to say in previous posts (see Simplicity equals Success, Is Perfect Worth It? and In Search of Perfection for […]