You would think it fairly obvious that the more complex a solution is to a problem, the bigger the chance of failure. Yet we often over complicate our lives, our businesses and the problems, both small and large, that we are trying to solve.
We see the risks all the time with BIG projects … they take longer, cost more and generally don’t do what they set out to do.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do big projects … big “things” still need to get done. Maybe it means going about it differently, OR maybe it just means setting different expectations.
What I am talking about is our (Human beings) penchant for over complicating things.
In business that could be as simple as striving to solve a perceived issue with a technology solution … when perhaps all that was needed was a common sense change in process. It is like when the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, it is amazing how often a hammer is the answer to your problems. Sometimes we have business issues that don’t need the IT department to solve them, when all it might take would be a sign in sheet at reception to track the 5 visitors a day or a manual log to track the 2 cash transactions a week!
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein
Some random thoughts about “keeping it simple”:
- Ask yourself if a proposed solution really NEEDS to be technology based, or is there a more simple way?
- Do you really NEED a room full of people in a meeting to discuss a solution?
- Are you trying to solve a systemic issue, or are you reacting to a “one off”?
- If you are looking at a computer solution that needs to be built from scratch, have you considered the possibility that buying an off the shelf solution that solves 80% of your needs and requires some in house change to your processes might actually be a better way to go. (Shooting myself in the foot with this one … we LOVE big development projects that need contractors!)
- Even if you need to have great time management skills, you do NOT need complex tools … keep it simple. Calendar; TO DO List; and Goals. Paper or electronic … whatever works for you!
- If you are doing strategic planning, account planning or any kind of business planning it is easy to let things get complex. Simple plans get executed, complex plans … not so much! Break it down into manageable “bite sized” pieces that are easily executed!
- Decide what is important for you in your life, and focus on those things. Don’t be distracted by all of the million other things that you COULD do, or COULD have!
- Sometimes the most direct approach is the easiest … it is easy to over think situations.
- Communicate using words everyone can understand.
- There is an old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words“.
- Bonus … and perhaps the easiest answer. Ask yourself if someone elsewhere already solved your problem.
“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make something simple.” Richard Branson