The Science of Simplicity

It’s not what you know in business it’s what you do that counts right? It’ assumed that this is common knowledge, however it’s the doing part that we all struggle with from time to time in one form or another.

Doing business has an inherent dynamic that automatically has us taking action on so many fronts and in so many forms that we are often facing a daily force of inertia. Add the constants of change and technology and is it really a surprise, that business owners and entrepreneurs can easily get spun, disorientated and get off track.

Generally with constant change inevitably we are susceptible to being reactive in or decision making and what we do. We know we need to adjust, counteract and innovate. However when we do get spun in the process of running our business we tend to default back to our base level of thinking which often has limitations.

We also tend to want to work harder and do more things in an effort to counteract any negative impacts or challenges we face in business.  So what do we do? We usually over compensate and that usually means we unwillingly add complexity to the equation. Instead of stopping, testing assumptions and then re-engaging working from a base of proven processes and procedures, we fall into the trap of reactive decision making and adding a layer of complexity and this is the #1 enemy of effective execution. Basically if the added complexity of what you are doing does not produce a by-product of improved efficiency and performance (Systems, processes and profits) then it’s counterproductive!

Einstein knew this as demonstrated by his quote “Everything should be made as simple as possiblebut no simpler.”

You see when challenges arise we tend to overthink things and lose focus on the basics of what works well for us in the first place and start messing with simplicity and add a layer complexity unnecessarily, in an effort to deal with the challenge that crop up and this effects our ability to execute well. We all do this at some level. The key is to determine the “simple as possible” part and avoid the “no simpler” part of Einstein’s quote.

You see the aim here is not to keep things as simple as possible, but as simple as required by the governing principles of what is truly needed to achieve the optimum result. With technology, production and food creation there is inherently a set or pre-determined equation of complexity to what makes things work in a certain way.

So there in principle a rule to complexity and it is this. “Complexity is valuable if it is an investment in simplicity” basically making things, faster, smarter and easier to get the desired result.

Looking at this in terms of ROI, it’s an assessment like all other good business decisions and determining if the investment in complexity e.g. introducing automated marketing systems and structuring a customer value optimisation strategy to the business, is worth the return in the short, medium or long term for the business. I.e. does it achieve overall benefits and efficiencies of simplicity in producing the results you expect and ultimately want? Compared to what you are currently doing right now?

It’s in also very important that any decision made considers how it impacts both the micro and macro elements of the entire business as a whole. (Ultimately your business should be structured and operating like a system and functioning with predictability and reliability to produce consistent cash and profits). So changing or introducing anything to the business ultimately has a direct or indirect effect on the business, so you don’t want any new elements entering into the business to reduce or negatively impact productivity and performance.

So when wanting to do anything new or different in your business that is directly related to processes and procedures and executing actions to produce a result. Ask your self “is what I am documenting or doing and wanting others to adopt and also do in the business going to give me improved ability to get things done and drive the results I need”. Think in terms of the “rule of complexity” (Complexity is valuable if it is an investment in simplicity)

With this perspective it would be helpful to do a basic “simplicity audit” on your current business to see where the rule of complexity stacks up and where it doesn’t.

P.S. If you have found value in this article, why not check out our 1 day Systemized workshop