Which side of complexity are you on?

That and this, these and those…

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“I wouldn’t give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity; I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the far side of complexity”

~ Attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841 -1935)

“In building a statue, a sculptor doesn’t keep adding clay to his subject. Actually, he keeps chiselling away at the inessentials until the truth of its creation is revealed without obstructions. It is not daily increase but daily decrease; hack away the unessential.”

~ Bruce Lee

We here at Badconsultant are fascinated by the obvious. Particularly, the blindingly, achingly, stupefyingly obvious. So great is our stupeficationliness

[we will never tire of it… Made-up words are cool]

that we often find ourselves drawn to explaining the simplicity again and again and again…

And again…

And again…

And when we do, we see nodding heads and “yup, that’s right…” agreement. And yet we don’t see change. We recently wrote about this in Inertia Real? Several of the comments we received to that excerpt from our knowledge management database, asked that we expand on the area.

So we will.

Because we’re getting a glimmer of a universal truth coming through. We’ve been through complexity and emerged into simplicity. We’re calling it as we see it.

And how we see it is that many, many, many people – the majority of colleagues, leaders, partners, shareholders, and every other stakeholder within have too great-a-level of comfort in the status quo to actually invest in the risk presented by change. Most men I know will hold off going to the doctor for weeks, or even months, even if in significant pain. All the time whining and complaining

[you don’t need me to tell you that men learnt to whine before they left the breast]

but not actually taking the time to go and get themselves sorted. So it is with necessary change – the status quo exerts a powerful drag upon movement; the inertia of our earlier post.

And so it is that we come back to our favourite centering statement:

It’s all common sense, so why isn’t everyone doing it?

There are any number of reasons, but for this post we’re going to focus on one, the possibility

[an outside possibility we know… No really… It is…]

that people in corporations really aren’t that bright, brave or honest. You see, as per Holmes above, it takes the ability to pass the short-term, staring-you-in-the-face simplicity, dance through the fog and clouds of complexity to emerge to meaningful, simple truths. As we have written many times, corporate eco-systems do not reinforce, recognize, celebrate and reward those who are perceived as willfully adding complexity – even if it is clear they are moving through it to get to something really meaningful.

Our significant longitudinal studies of meta-comparisonal data survey methodologies lead us to assert that the following several points are primary in the reasoning cordon that can be perimetered around the problem statement quantification factor.

[We know… Genius!]

In other words, here’s our top 3 reasons why people grab at the short-term straws that are breaking the camel’s back:

  1. People aren’t that bright – the sort of brain that relishes complexity, that dives into Sudoku puzzles with glee, that glories in competitive chess, just isn’t largely available in most corporations. Instead, we have sheep and cattle and pigs, lambs and chickens. So, when it’s clear that the simplicity that got them in the shit in the first place won’t get them out, they immediately think “I don’t get it!” and do what they did before. As we say, people aren’t that bright.
  2. People aren’t that brave – In corporations where anything that doesn’t lead to cost savings through simplification is considered the work of Beelzebub himself, it is the brave minion or leader who says – “Hang on a sec… We need to think about this a bit more”. ‘Nuff said.
  3. People aren’t that honest – If they had the answers, they would already have done it. They didn’t do it, so it’s pretty clear they haven’t. But they are where they are. And they got there by creating the current situation. So, they don’t have the answers, but they do have the problem. It’s their love-child. Who in their right mind is about to admit “I created this mess and I have no clue how to fix it”. People just aren’t that honest. And those that are don’t get second chances. Cue spin.

So there you have it: People aren’t that bright, brave or honest.

But some are.

Look for them, draw them in, protect them and tell them to work it out. And, whatever you do, do NOT let others know they are working it out. When they emerge with simplicity, when they’ve wandered the land of complexity to reach their answers, present that transcendent simplicity as the short term, staring-you-in-the-face simplicity and trust the sheep to follow.

Peace out, y’all.

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