I like simplicity. I even like the word ‘Simple’ – uncomplicated, fundamental, basic, irreducible, vanilla, straightforward, artless, uncontrived – none of them have the elegance of the word ‘Simple.’

Michael Wade over at Execupundit has posted yet another beaut; this time on the topic of keeping things clear and simple. Like many consultants, I am often accused of oversimplifying things:

“Rowan why do you insist on boiling things down to black and white? The world / This business / My life isn’t that simple.”

My response:

“Why do you insist on needlessly complicating the world / this business / your life? It is simple, but you’ve gone and needlessly introduced a thousand shades of grey. You have to walk down one footpath or the other – if you insist on wavering all over the road you’re going to be flattened by a truck. The amount of psychic energy you waste on endlessly playing with these shades of grey! If it mattered enough to you, you’d be able to simplify things.”


Michael’s thoughts:

Intellectuals rail against oversimplification, possibly because their livelihoods often depend on making the simple complex.

The natural tendency, at least in the workplace, is not to simplify, but to complicate. The tendrils of complication seize and encircle people and projects. Eventually, the combined weight of unnecessary complication draws down production and squelches creativity. … Simplification requires simple questions, such as:
  • How are we making our job more difficult?
  • Have we told our customers what we do?
  • Do we know what our employees do?
  • Do we know what we want?

Simplicity without being simplistic. More wonderfully simple thinking here


“Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple.” (Edward de Bono)