K.I.S.S. Unplugged

November 12th, 2010
by

by Rich Gallitelli*

Although it would be interesting to hear songs from the album “Destroyer” acoustically, I am talking about the acronym, not the band:  K.I.S.S., “Keep It Simple Stupid” or “Keep It Short and Simple.” My BurrellesLuce colleague, Cathy Del Colle recommends this principal to our team and clients each day. However, K.I.S.S. hasn’t quite effectively crept into all parts of our everyday lives…

Flickr Image Source: ryantron

Flickr Image Source: ryantron

I attended a luncheon, this past September, hosted by the Publicity Club of New York. The panel consisted of five senior TV producers/reporters who cover business news, all providing insight for PR professionals on effectively pitching their ideas.  All five panelists essentially preached the same mantra “You have to get your pitch across within the first three sentences of your email; otherwise, the email is deleted.”  Yes, three sentences. For a novice like me, that was an eye opener.

Afterwards, I began to realize that the essence of that statement has pretty much defined how we now interact as a society. Real time news – or more precisely, “today’s news yesterday” – TV shows with 45 second scenes, initialisms and acronyms, and our inner most thoughts in 140 characters or less are just a few of many examples. We also have a host of devices and websites such as Twitter, Facebook, video games, Droids, iPods, and iPad all designed to help keep connecting simple. When was the last time you went to a conference or even a coffee shop without seeing people typing away on their BlackBerries? Even the world of sports, once the cradle for colorful nicknames, has also fallen victim to our need for “simplicity.” The Yankee Clipper, Earl the Pearl, Larry Legend, and Magic, have given way to the mundane A-Rod¸ D-Wade, and T.O.  And we won’t even begin to discuss what our teachers have to deal with, while grading papers in the advent of the texting era.

Has our appetite for instant access and gratification been borne out of a lack of creativity or are we so plugged into technology that we simply do not have the time to use our creativity? In other words, has our need to “Keep it Simple” gone to the extreme and become counter-intuitive? (If you need any more evidence, I have two words: Speed Dating!) So where is the balance?

A group of researchers from the University of Stanford performed a study that found “People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”

After putting about 100 students through a series of three tests, the researchers realized the heavy multitaskers are paying a big mental price.

“’They’re suckers for irrelevancy, said communication Professor Clifford Nass, one of the researchers whose findings are published in the Aug. 24 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ‘Everything distracts them.’” 

In each test, the light multitaskers out performed the heavy multitaskers. “’When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal,’ said Anthony Wagner, an associate professor of psychology. ‘That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.’”

In short, the human brain is not designed to multitask and hold all that information. When interviewed for this BurrellesLuce newsletter, Carol Schiro Greenwald of Greenwald Consulting, who was not involved in the study, explained: “We can’t multitask because the brain isn’t set up that way. It is set up to think in logical order, from general to specific. If you stop doing something in the middle — Think about when you start doing it again. You have to go back to the beginning.”

So while I am not advocating we become inefficient while on the job, I am advocating a re-evaluation of “Simple.” Perhaps it is a matter of unplugging from the world and our “need for now” while at home. In essence, apply the K.I.S.S. method at times when we are not on vacation, even if it is only for just an evening or a weekend. This Saturday, do not tweet that you are brushing your teeth, even if your dentist is following you on Twitter. Take a drive or a walk. Visit your parents, or a relative you haven’t seen in awhile. They will thank you for it and so will your eyes and brain. (Just don’t use the word decompress, it sounds so decompressing.) After all, life goes by in a blink and it’s much sadder if you haven’t noticed a tree until you are 65.

We may need information now and have the technology to get it; but, let’s face it, sometimes what we think will simplify things only makes it more complicated. But don’t worry. Monday morning, it’ll all come flooding back to you – the LOLing, the the multitasking, real-time news, etc – the moment you walk out the front door, or more precisely when you begin your morning commute. 

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*Bio: Richard Gallitelli brought a wealth of sales and customer-service experience when he came to BurrellesLuce in 2007. His outstanding performance as a sales associate and personalized shopper for Neiman Marcus (he also has worked for Nordstrom) earned him a nomination by Boston magazine as “Best of Boston” sales associate for high-end retail fashion stores. Rich’s talents also won him praise and a profile in the book, “What Customers Like About You: Adding Emotional Value for Service Excellence and Competitive Advantage,” written by best-selling business author Dr. David Freemantle. Rich majored in English Literature at William Paterson University, and is a published poet and short-story writer. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce

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