Can Simplicity Make the Complex Possible?


Not sure exactly why but I recently signed up for a podcasting course.  Although I’ve previously taken a one day workshop and had the basics, I’ve never actually but them into play. This time I’m hoping it sticks.

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised because the course has been interesting, engaging, and ultimately, quite promising. In large part it’s because the course has been broken down into simple bite-sized assignments.  The first assignment was to give our podcast a name, the second list to 10 people we would interview, the third was to describe our own podcast in 10 words or less. Despite my best efforts, I could only get mine down to 11 words. Regardless, you get the gist.

Putting a podcast into place is intimidating and complicated, yet, because someone - in this case Seth Godin and an amazing team - has the knowledge and experience, and managed to simplify the fog of complexity. 

That’s not to say simplicity is easy because getting to simplicity rarely comes without a lot of thought, teeth grinding, discussions, learning, unlearning, and a team willing to work really, really hard to develop a framework that can motivate, mobilize and maximize others to want to change and grow.

Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that when something is presented as being simple and straightforward, some people may be of the opinion that it can’t be of value.  That may be because people often confuse simple, with simplistic.

In our increasingly complex world of more, better, and faster, ‘simplicity’ needs to be a key value. Since it is clear the pace of change is likely to speed up rather than slow down in the near future, we will all need to work diligently if we want to keep things, especially innovation and change, from being so complicated and overwhelming that we give in to a natural inclination to reject it.

Not only does simplicity need to be valued, it also needs to be made a priority. Of course it is tempting to avoid taking the extra time to make things simple and direct, especially when we are moving fast. It does take much more time and energy to go deep in order to produce clear and concise plans, put appropriate technology into place, take time to capture emerging policies and procedures, develop meaningful and relevant learning and resources, and communicate what needs to be communicated. 

One of the reasons we sometimes don’t end up with simplicity is that it requires knowing a subject extraordinarily well through a variety of lenses. It also requires taking the time to really understand by listening, researching, analyzing, experimenting, testing, applying, and refining. When that happens we do ultimately get to simplistic and that’s different from simple.

Getting to simplistic also requires a willingness to challenge and be willing to let go of what may already exist. That doesn’t negate the potential for retaining something traditional, just that it must be a conscious decision if simplicity is truly a priority.

Ensuring simplicity is also enhanced by learning that is the result of practice and application, extensive curation, and the use of stories and visuals.
How will you know when you do get it right?

It seems simplicity is achieved when everyone can easily understand and use the knowledge, plan, or resource regardless of their experience, cultural background, literacy, or learning style. To Seth Godin’s credit, that’s pretty much what’s happening in our podcasting course.

Bottom line? If something can be described simply, it can be used simply. Maybe that means when push comes to shove, simplicity is ultimately what makes the complex possible.

Posted on 09-25-22

Add your Comment here:






Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

Next entry: Paddling on One Side of the Canoe?

Previous entry: Why Jobs Make Me Twitchy