There is tremendous value to simplification. To quote Steve jobs, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it is worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” We wanted to explore how people and companies achieve simplification in this series of posts.
Data is complex but our solution to managing data need not be complex. Can simplifying what we are doing help us to do more with less?
Simplification is a key focus for many companies and everyone understands how eliminating unnecessary complexity can lead to more successful outcomes. But achieving simplicity is hard. So why is simple not easy and obvious?
First, lack of time to simplify. Your processes or products can get more complex over time as new aspects are introduced. Or your first iteration to achieve your objectives might not be the simplest version – but you are in a time crunch to get that first product or prototype out of the door. In either case, you realize there might be simpler ways to achieve what you are doing, but you just do not have the time to step back and possibly disrupt your current state while redesigning and rebuilding a simpler and a more straight forward version. Again to quote Steve Jobs, “When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.”
Second, a perception that simple might be inferior. Often detailed and sophisticated problems require complex solutions. A solution might feel basic or inadequate or not good enough. The thinking can be when the problem we are solving is obviously complex, shouldn’t the solution also be complex?
Finally, simplification efforts get held back by lack of clarity. Clarity around exactly what needs to done and clarity around what exactly is being done in each step of the process. Once that clarity is available, it is easier to eliminate processes or steps that are not adding value and only focus on those that are doing what needs to be done. But this is easier said than done.
So what do you think is the best way to simplify? How does your company view simplification? is the right approach to re-configuring processes to streamline and eliminate unnecessary or repeated parts of the process. Or do you see better results when you start from an innovation focused approach to simplification. Are new advances in technology or radical redesign the only way you can simplify?
If you would like to share your thoughts please let us know.