Hiding unnecessary information from a customer is good business. Have you ever had an interaction with a business, where your goal was to get served, but instead the business shares their problems with you? Were you left thinking “I’ve got problems of my own, I don’t need or care to know yours. Just give me my hamburger already.” Encapsulation is an elegant and simple principle to ease the burden on your customer by subtracting or covering the unnecessary and adding the meaningful.
Consider the image below:
The picture to the left is what I saw recently. I was drawn to it: the image of 3 bushes appearing to be protecting something was seductive and curious to me. So, I investigated further. To my surprise, the 3 bushes were hiding and electrical box.
This is an example of encapsulation — information hiding, or not exposing unnecessary information, material, or anything your customer might not consider value-add.
Encapsulation is a principle that supports Mathew May’s argument that the best ideas have something missing. Indeed, Encapsulation supports the principles of Symetry, Subtraction, Seduction, and Sustainability.
- Symmetry: The 3 bushes, aligned so peacefully, is beautiful and geometrically well-formed.
- Subtraction: Cover the ugly electrical box with 3 beautiful bushes.
- Seduction: I was drawn to this scene — I was curious to know what was going on behind the 3 bushes.
- Sustainability: Clearly, this principle can be applied to any field, function, business environment, or industry.
Subtract the junk if you can; If you can’t, then cover it. That’s encapsulation.
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shaun sayers says
I could not agree more with these points Peter. I have just blogged on a related subject
This was prompted by a suggestion by a contributor in a discussion forum that the customer should be involved in process re-design. Now, there may be complex supply-chain situations where this could be practical (and so the exception may prove the rule), but as a rule I find this a completely crazy thing to suggest
The wider problem is, as I see it, a tendency for of some practitioners with superficial knowledge and experience to develop an unhealthy fondness of platitudes like “customer involvement” and trot them out at the drop of a hat as though they are nuggets of distilled wisdom that require no further explanation or justification
The point I make in my article is that provided we get the “whats” right (and we may well consult the customer as to what the “whats” should be) the “hows” will be of little interest to most customers – they expect you to sort that out