Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Quest for Simplicity

Life veers toward the complicated. If untended, it moves off the smooth path and into the jungle.

Gather a group of bright people and watch them weave intricate nets; a skill they learned in various disciplines and which no doubt pleased their teachers. After all, if something is complex, then the thinking that produced it must be deep; at least so goes the assumption. This may explain why so many academics embrace the obtuse and disdain clear writing.

In a perfect world, sirens would sound whenever a person or group backed away from a simple solution. I recently found an easy way to resolve a problem that has been troubling a group for months. It will save millions of dollars if they have the courage to adopt it. The solution was in the room all along but whenever we bumped into it, we muttered excuses and hurried on to search for the complicated.

Our first task will be to get over our embarrassment.


Bob said...

I had this discussion once with a class on writing building specifications. The premise was we could take a 500+ page tome, and easily, simply and concisely edit it to 50 pages losing nothing. The response, although the latter was a better more usable document, was simply a client wouldn't be happy paying the same for 50 pages as they would for 500. So instead we write 50 pages and cut and paste 450 pages of padding.....We've as a society evolved to where the process of achieving an outcome is more important than the actual outcome.

Michael Wade said...


Excellent example. I've seen versions of that. It is very frustrating and encourages scam artists who work with smoke and mirrors.