Trimming

What is it

Iteratively remove unnecessary elements from a design using a structured approach to reducing complexity to produce a more elegant, streamlined final product, process, or organization.

Why use it

  • Bring clarity to an overly cluttered system with too many components, unwieldy user experience, or lots of steps.
  • Streamline a system by removing unnecessary friction or complexities.
  • Decide whether to pursue risky removals.

When to use it

When the initial design begins to emerge or when you encounter “too much” of something – steps in a process, options to choose from, documents, PowerPoint slides, requirements for a system, etc.

Level

Intermediate

Outcome

Evaluate

Group Size

4+ people

Suggested Time

60+ minutes

Trimming worksheet

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How to do it

STEP 1

List all the pieces included in the current design.

STEP 2

Define a Stop Strategy. Three common Stop Strategies are:

  • Threshold strategy – Stop trimming when the system has satisfied some threshold (size, weight, power, etc.).
  • Time-box strategy – Stop trimming when a specified amount of time has passed.
  • Thorough strategy – Check every single component.

STEP 3

Remove a piece from the list. Common strategies include:

  • Obviously extraneous – Remove components that are clearly unnecessary.
  • Threshold busters – Remove components that are most responsible for the system exceeding thresholds (e.g., remove the heaviest component if the system exceeds the weight threshold).
  • Speedy trim – Remove any component that can be removed quickly, minimizing the amount of time spent on trimming.
  • Acceleration trim – Remove any component whose removal will yield a substantially shorter project timeline.
  • Random – Randomly remove a component.
  • Obviously necessary – Remove a component that appears essential to the system.

STEP 4

Test the system to determine if it works without a piece. If so, discard that piece. If not, replace the piece.

STEP 5

Repeat the process until the Stop Strategy applies.

Benefits

  • Structured, repeatable, rigorous process is an excellent introduction to convergent thinking.
  • Reduces all types of complexity (processes, tech, system architecture, PowerPoint, etc)

Challenges

The “does it work?” step can be challenging to design and implement.

Combine With

Additional Resources

Three Experiments In Doing Less

Need help using this tool with your team?

Questions?

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