Count me in for Simplicity
- September 12, 2011
- 2 Comments
There’s an argument that says the world is too complex for humans to understand. Further, that by thinking we understand cause-and-effect, we’re doomed to act in ways that have unforeseen (usually negative) consequences. It is a really interesting debate, and informative on the more than two sides represented.
Personally, I found myself rejecting this notion as useful. Not that the notion of complexity isn’t useful – but letting it paralyze you is not useful. When it comes to running your business, simplicity is more powerful than complexity. A combination of relatively simple interactions has more power than a complex single interaction. Simple interactions are more replicable, more scalable. I would focus more on enabling “emergence” than disabling decision-making by leaders.
Simplicity and abstraction go hand-in-hand. The iPad has a significant amount of complexity baked in – from the hardware, to the software, to the production processes that lead to its creation, to the design processes that lead to its conception. But to me, it is just a glossy glass enclosure that responds to my touch.
Does my touch cause the apps to do what they do? Actually, it doesn’t matter whether touch is causal or not – it is, at minimum, so highly correlated between action and reaction that it feels like causation.
And that’s what we should be striving for in our businesses – that our actions would achieve the results we’re looking for – will feel like causation – though there may be a complex choreography and it may not be driven top-down.
There was a truly fantastic quote in the original HBR article:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and
don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless
immensity of the sea.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Sometimes simple is best.