Complexity and Simplicity

In coaching leaders and organizations, I find they often want a simple solution to their challenges. The problem is they do not want to put the work and research necessary into fully understanding the complexity of the issue before they settle on a simple solution.

Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, “For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn’t give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.”

Some of my favorite quotes on this subject are:

  • “Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.” — Alan Perlis
  • “…the only simplicity to be trusted is the simplicity to be found on the far side of complexity.” — Alfred North Whitehead
  • “Simplicity is complexity resolved.” — Constantin Brancusi

The goal is always simplicity, but to get there you must first understand and analyze the complexity.

What is it in your life or work that you need a simpler solution for?

The old Acrostic K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid) it a good formula, but to get there will require work. First study and analyze the bigger situation with all its complexity, then and only then look for the simple solution.

Albert Einstein said, “Everything should be made a simple as possible. But not simpler.”

May you find simple solutions to the issues you face.