Finally, we are learning that simplicity equals sanity. We’re rebelling against technology that’s too complicated, DVD players with too many menus, and software accompanied by 75-megabyte “read me” manuals. The iPod’s clean gadgetry has made simplicity hip. But sometimes we ﬁnd ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that’s simple and easy to use, but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do.
When designer and computer scientist John Maeda was tapped to be president of the celebrated Rhode Island School of Design in 2008, he had to learn how to be a leader quickly. He had to transform himself from a tenured professor - with a love of argument for argument’s sake and the freedom to experiment - into the head of a hierarchical organization. The professor is free to speak his mind against “the man.” The college president is “the man.” Maeda has had to teach himself, through trial and error, about leadership.