The Relevance Of Elegance In Business

Over the last ten years elegance has emerged as a trend which is quickly picking up speed in the fields of architecture, design, innovation and strategic business leadership, as it provides a powerful key for managing complexity. 

But quite frankly, when I discuss the concept and benefits of elegance with business entrepreneurs and executives, I often get a blank stare as a response.

It seems that for most people, elegance is a relatively meaningless word, which is best left to the creators of fashion and haute couture, as well as their marketing gurus and the editors of glossy magazines.

According to my experience, most business leaders would view elegance as a largely irrelevant concept.

Until lately, that is.

For in the last ten years we have seen more and more disruptive concepts, technologies and products launched into the world markets, which have changed the way in which we live, work, and create value.

The IPhone, with it’s deceptively simple, elegant design and it’s complex, rich sub-structure completely revolutionized the world of mobile phones and hand-held devices.

The Google search engine, with it’s clean, uncluttered design and meaningful search results pretty much blew away most of the potential competitors.

The list of great examples for new, successful, disruptive solutions, products and technologies which make use of the key concepts of elegance is growing quickly.

„So what is  the secret sauce?“ some executives have asked me.

There are several aspects to the power of elegant design, but to paraphrase Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects, one of the key benefits of true elegance is that it allows for complexity to coincide with a relative reduction of complication by means of integrating multiple elements into a coherent system.

Swiss watchmakers can teach us a lesson about elegance in this respect. A really good watch should have a surface structure which is easy to understand, that allows for intuitive navigation. But below the surface, the inner works of a truly great watch will include a grand complication, representing the most complex achievements of haute horlogerie. You and I don’t need to understand the inner works of a watch to be able to use it. If it is elegantly designed, it’s use will require virtually no explanation.

Thus, elegance provides a means of articulating complexity in a way that enables easy comprehension and intuitive navigation.

In an increasingly chaotic, complex economic context, business leaders and entrepreneurs need to manage complexity by mastering such elegant techniques in order to make better decisions and create increased business value.

Elegant business decisions, solutions and innovations combine a simple surface-structure with a rich, complex sub-structure. 

The resulting business-leadership techniques may seem simple and obvious at first sight – but don’t be deceived! 

This type of simplicity is rich, complex and deeply satisfying. 

And as in the cases of Apple, Google and many other elegant innovators, this approach can help you to create disruptive changes to your advantage in the markets you operate in.