Kathleen Eisenhardt: What Are Simple Rules? | Summary and Q&A

May 1, 2015
Stanford eCorner
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Kathleen Eisenhardt: What Are Simple Rules?

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This video discusses the concept of Simple Rules and highlights three key features of Simple Rules. It provides examples of Simple Rules for eating, as well as rules for the Stanford Football Team and crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. The video emphasizes that Simple Rules are simple, unique to each person and situation, and specific to a defined activity.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are the three key features of Simple Rules?

The three key features of Simple Rules are simplicity, uniqueness, and relevance to a defined activity. Simple Rules are typically limited to two, three, four, or five rules, making them easy to comprehend and follow. Additionally, Simple Rules differ from person to person and situation to situation, allowing for individual customization. Finally, Simple Rules are focused on specific activities or tasks rather than general concepts.

Q: Can you provide an example of Simple Rules for eating?

Yes, an example of Simple Rules for eating can be found in the philosophy of Michael Pollan, a Berkeley Professor and Author. Pollan suggests three Simple Rules: 1) Eat real food that your grandmother would recognize, 2) Eat mostly plants, and 3) Eat in moderation. These rules emphasize the consumption of unprocessed, whole foods and encourage a balanced and mindful approach to eating. By following these Simple Rules, individuals can make healthier food choices without feeling overwhelmed by complex diets or restrictions.

Q: How do Simple Rules vary depending on the person and situation?

Simple Rules are not universal and can vary depending on the person and their specific situation. For example, the Stanford Football Team has different Simple Rules compared to Michael Pollan. The football team's rules include staying hydrated, eating breakfast, and consuming food that can be picked, plucked, or killed. These rules are tailored to meet the specific needs of the team based on their active lifestyle and nutritional requirements. Therefore, Simple Rules are adaptable to different individuals and contexts.

Q: What are the differences between Indiegogo and Kickstarter in terms of Simple Rules?

Indiegogo and Kickstarter are both crowdfunding sites, but they have different Simple Rules that govern the projects featured on their platforms. Indiegogo allows almost anything, as long as it is legal. The rules are open and inclusive, reflecting the belief that the internet is for everyone. Indiegogo's algorithm selects popular projects and emphasizes effort. On the other hand, Kickstarter curates its projects and places them into specific categories. Roughly 25% of submitted projects never appear on Kickstarter, as they are not selected by the staff. Kickstarter's rules are more exclusive and resemble a closed system. Thus, Indiegogo has more open and adaptable rules, while Kickstarter employs a more selective approach to project curation.

Q: What is the main point of the video regarding Simple Rules?

The main point of the video is to highlight that Simple Rules are straightforward, customized, and related to specific activities. Simple Rules provide clarity and focus by narrowing down complex decisions into a few guiding principles. They are not one-size-fits-all and can vary based on individual preferences and context. The video also emphasizes that Simple Rules can apply to various domains, such as food choices or crowdfunding projects, and that even seemingly similar businesses can have fundamentally different rules in place.


The concept of Simple Rules offers a valuable framework for decision-making and problem-solving. By creating and following a small set of clear and personalized rules, individuals and organizations can simplify complex tasks, promote consistency, and achieve desired outcomes. Simple Rules can be especially effective in domains where there is a need to navigate diverse options and make choices based on specific criteria. Ultimately, the power of Simple Rules lies in their ability to provide structure and guidance, making decision-making more manageable and strategic.

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