The Genius Of Simplicity
Simplicity is a puzzle. Rather than a mere reflection of the most basic, primitive elements of life, simplicity reveals brilliance. With its sheer sense and practicality it turns complexity on its head.
Back in the 90’s the great thinker, Eduard de Bono, wrote about the elegance of simple ideas. Instead of forfeiting the good things that complexity can bring, unfussy thinking refines the best from wordy methods to give us stuff that:
- Really works
- Feels easier to apply, and
- Makes life better for everyone.
Lazy thinking, he reasoned, makes everything increasingly complex. While, at the same time, it robs us of practicality. In other words, the more convoluted it is, the less stuff works.
Think about it. Imposingly thick policy and procedure manuals sit gathering dust and rarely (if ever) get read. Densely featured computer programs barely have a fraction of their capabilities used and if anything, boost user’s confusion. Expensive and elaborate projects rarely go ahead without creating headaches and an almighty mess. While, many highly detailed plans bog down in difficulties and confusion, purely for the lack of basic clarity.
And here is the paradox. We love simplicity for all the inherent good it brings. Yet, too many of us have been taught to distrust it, thinking “simple” means inferior.
However, as de Bono points out, reducing complicated approaches and sophisticated concepts down to easily digestible simplicity takes nothing less than genius. By contrast, making everything more complicated demonstrates exactly the opposite.
Adding complications can be a factor of the job in hand, it’s true. But, as is so often the case, it is fueled by someone’s ego and the their desire to want to lord it over others. Choosing longer words to impress, they imply that “only they really know how to do it right”.
When people belittle simplicity, you can expect an ego-driven agenda lurking not far behind. Instead of increasing access and empowering everyone, jargon and over-complicated agendas do the reverse. Such agendas secretly mean to exclude and impress.
So be mindful of what drives ever more complicated policies and procedures. Sometimes, they merely reflect a lack of imagination. But, more often than not, someone is trying to impress somebody else. When that happens, the results are rarely inspiring.
That’s why you and I are obliged to stand up for the elegance and intelligence of simplicity. Where there is one smart rule to replace a few, use it. If you are expected to make things unnecessarily complicated, champion the value of simplicity. Make it wise and relevant (and even scientific if you like). But whatever you do, stand up for what works, promoting simplicity in everything you do.
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