Blogging Lessons from the Mikhail Kalashnikov – Designer of the AK-47

“To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.” Mikhail Kalashnikov

AK 47 Drawing

image credit: Jaci Berkopec

The Automatic by Kalashnikov of 1947 is probably the simplest and most well designed firearm ever built.

Mikhail Kalashnikov created the rifle while serving in the Red Army during World War II. He started creating rifles on his own with crude materials until one day his superior was impressed enough to send Kalashnikov to become an engineer working specifically on a rifle that would change the way the Soviet Union was able to battle.

While Kalashnikov is credited as a great engineer, he should also be credited for his understanding of how to solve problems in simple ways so as to effectively provide products focused on their end users.

Kalashnikov’s ability to understand his ‘customer’ is what has made his rifle the most omnipotent in world history.

Leaving political and moral beliefs aside for this article, I’d like to focus on how Mikhail Kalashnikov was able to focus on the needs of a customer and service that customer with one of the most successful (in terms of sales and use) products in world history.

Design lessons from Kalashnikov

“I worked for our soldiers,” Kalashnikov said. “I knew that our soldiers did not study in academies. What they needed had to be simple and reliable.”

And the AK-47 has been one of the easiest to use and reliable products in history. After many failed designs and prototypes, Kalashnikov finally created a version of the AK-47 that was ready for mass production by the Soviets.

AK 47

The design of the rifle was loose, which allowed the action to work in virtually any situation. Sand, water, mud, snow, etc. can’t stop the rifle’s action from working.

The rifle works both in automatic and semi-automatic actions.

The genius of the gun’s design is the ease of use for nearly any human of any age, race, gender, etc.

People across the world recognize the image of the AK-47 more than they recognize a Pepsi-Cola or McDonald’s logo.

Kalashnikov realized that soldiers needed a rifle that was easy to use and one that worked in difficult situations.

The AK-47 is not accurate by normal rifle standards, but its light weight makes it easy for the user to maneuver in difficult situations.

When your task is simply to avoid those who mean to do you harm, a weapon that allows you to stay alive with evasive maneuvering and reliable operation is invaluable.

Again, leaving politics and morality aside, there are many lessons hunting bloggers can learn from Kalashnikov’s approach to design.

How to apply these lessons to your hunting business

Again, simplicity is difficult, complexity is difficult to avoid.

When bringing your hunting business to the Web, focus on solving only the problems of your customer. Understand that your customer won’t use your Website and its features if they are difficult or cumbersome.

Your Website can’t be all things to all people. The way to get traffic to your site is to create pull (with quality content, products, service, etc) and make it simple in design, look & feel, and operation.

Focus on being good at one thing.

Only include features that are truly seen as valuable by your visitors.

The AK-47 hasn’t changed much over the years. Advancements have come in the form of making the product easier to use, not more complex.

Businesspeople make profit when they work to create simple processes and products that improve the lives of other people.

Customers have a limited time on this Earth so anything that allows them to use their time more efficiently is valuable.

The lesson we can learn from the AK-47 for our hunting businesses is simple as well, focus on what your customer needs and solve that one specific need in the simplest way possible.

And after you work to successfully create a simple product, continue working to make the product simpler.

Is your customer a hunter looking for the whitetail hunt of a lifetime?

If you’re an outfitter, create a process that gives hunters their dream trophy bucks and make sure the process is as simple as possible.

Is your customer a hunter looking for information on how to hunt as effectively as possible?

Create a blog full of easy to read information on how to hunt. Gather your own thoughts in blog posts. Segment those posts in series. Make your site flow easily. Make the information easy to find, read, and absorb.

When you focus on your customer and focus on simplicity, you’re company will be successful on the Web.

Inspiration for the this story came from a Field & Stream article by C.J. Chivers

The Father of 100 Million Rifles

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Dayne Shuda

I'm a blogger and hunting enthusiast. Follow me on Twitter.