Making the Complex, Simple

improving productivity

How simple truths, unite.

OUR ATTENTION goes to what is visible. I see the flowers and weeds in my garden, but I don’t see the roots and the soil. Or in business: I see written comments from our customers describing slow response times, but I don’t see the KPI’s or job descriptions that don’t spell out customer service behaviors. I see team members in meetings use the phrase “us versus them” when describing the cultures of two departments but not the common vision that connects both. It’s understandable. It’s human nature to be reactive in a desire for a quick solution.

But when we only see the symptom and not the source most things look complex. And the more complex things become, the more we spin our wheels. Complexity leads to avoidance, finger-pointing, a “wait and see attitude”, overwhelm, more complexity and finally inaction.

Complexity attracts more complexity because we;

  • lack the patience to remain in the unknown,
  • desire a fast solution,
  • make quick assumptions,
  • don’t ask deeper questions,
  • have a need for control,
  • see ourselves as separate from, not connected to others,
  • don’t know how to encourage different perspectives and facilitate a decision people can support.

For many groups and teams, understanding a complex situation is the price of admission for being included. The opposite is also true: “I don’t understand, so I can’t participate.” So, what can we do?;

  • stay in the unknown longer,
  • deeply listen to others,
  • have the courage to trust your intuition,
  • ask more “how” and less “what and why” questions,
  • look for commonalities in people’s perspectives,
  • identify the one thing everyone wants.
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“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Steve Jobs