Humanity seems to thrive on presenting complex and complicated reasons,logic and everything that there is and the reality is that there could be nothing more contradicting to the truth- which is- simplicity is the only and the most essential building block to develop and build upon whatever that you choose to create! Join me here as we explore this space and try to understand why simplicity is omnipresent yet so elusive!
The progress of humanity has been a story of moving from simplified structures to more and more complex systems; whether it is about societies , the rules and regulations, belief systems, whatever you choose as an example, you will find that as humans we have this unwarranted and compelling desire to complicate and make complex things as scale begins to grow and perhaps the only industry which works in a complete contradictory manner is aerospace- where – minimal essential is the key word! If you observe the journey of a business conglomerate, you will see that when the beginnings were humble with a handful faithfuls believing in the dream and aligning themselves to the cause- rules of that fledgling organization would have been minimal and they would have worked well to propel and empower decision making and progressive styles of working hereby making it possible to writer the unfolding success story in the years that followed. But once these very organizations reach critical mass, they have more and more and ore rules to be followed and in all that, the whole pursuit and purpose of the work and the organization gets fogged out- may be not completely- but it tends to wear off its sheen and the sharpness of the earlier days and than that greatness just stays overhead by virtue of who they are and not because of what they want to be! Sure enough rules and structures are important, but there is a big difference between creating rules for people and having people for the rules!
As long as rules work to simplify and empower people, they can stay simple- that is the power of simplicity! The challenge commences as people begin to manipulate this simplicity to pursue what is not within the mandate and purview and there by necessitating building additional layers on exiting simplified rules and approaches- this intrinsic trait of a few to bend and flex simple rules is what pushes the majority into having to adhere to complex systems- even as this silent majority would have been compliant enough to follow even the simplified rules! Let me explain!
When was the last time you decided to board a train without a ticket, well possibly not, never unless it was in your teens when you were hanging out with your invincible friends in an attempt to show off your unique skills! But if you see around, even for simple things like booking of travel tickets, no matter where you are in the world, you will end up having to comply with at least 2-3 additional documents- whether you travel domestic or international! SO why did we end up building a complex system for something as trivial as booking or buying a travel ticket? Well, yes, you guessed it right, that predictable ability of a few eccentric characters, who believe in hacking, bending and flexing the system for their benefit, has ended up the majority to comply with additional check points and verification systems. If you thought this is just about the social aspects, just observe your work place- what do you see?
Even when it comes to the office world, even to swipe-in you have a minimum of two systems tracking you- sure enough you may say, part compliance, part redundancy, but that takes an altogether new meaning when one system shows you present and the other one marks you absent, simply because you did not log in through your device that day! beyond this, as you try to access your official tools, whether it is the mail system, the much hyped ERP, MIS systems, every point you will see systems have been designed not to suggest that “you can be trusted” and “you will do what you must as you should”, but rather on the premise “that you will not do it well and in a timely manner”! Remember the escalation matrix, well that’s not for you to be happy about, it just tells you the broad premise that your office is working upon- that you cannot be completely trusted! You may want to argue that, this is a process and this is how it is done everywhere, may be true, but all of that argument doesn’t answer, why it has to be done that way? and if you are the one who is going to solve what comes in your inbox, what’s the whole point of escalating and if something indeed needs to be escalated(because you aren’t empowered to deal with it) then why should you even be receiving all all that in your inbox to begin with! So, why is that, we have this mad dash for complexity and why is the ability to stay “simple” so elusive? What does all this really tell us about who we are and what we do with our lives? Read on!
The urge to complicate or rather create complexity on simple aspects has it roots in the foundation of human thoughts and belief systems, like modern day thinkers, much of the mid-age thinkers also saw humans broadly in two buckets- one who are self-driven, selfless, purpose drive and have a sense of community duty and the other set which was more self-centered, who would act only for reward and cared a damn for what unfolds around- either by being indifferent or being ignorant. Needless to say, if you see around, these broad buckets still exist around and the fact is that the second lot is in the majority and it is for this second lot that complicated rules are needed just to ensure that they ( by compulsion) contribute to what the first lot is doing (on their own accord) & more importantly these complex rules guard (to a certain extent) any attempts of sabotage that this majoritarian self-centered lot may want to embark upon.
So is there a way to promote simplicity over complexity? Well, the answer is yes and no! Yes, because you can embrace simplicity to empower your life- as an individual in that private space that you live about in- by uncluttering and doing away with everything and anything that attempts to cloud your mind space through unwanted complexity! But when it comes to the larger social construct of the society, as paradoxical it may seem, the fact is, those complex approaches help to prevent attempted sabotages of the existing visible simplicity that societies may have on account of the majoritarian lot who thrive on the chaos and ambiguity that complex systems get along with them. As they say, complex rules and regulations are for complicated people! So what next?
Well final words if you ask me, the fine balance of being able to deploy and work with simple systems and complex set ups is what will eventually ensure that all progressive efforts that you embark upon, both as an individual or as part of the social construct will alone determine whether your life gets written more about the simple and clear approach that you have taken up or the complex methods that you have developed and sustained to ensure that the fine balance between simple and complex people, systems and everything around only helps to progress and aligns to what you pursue!
I leave your here with these thoughts, urging you to get that balance of being simple and dealing with complexity right- for yourself and the people you lead!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another piece!