In fact, I would go one further, I would say that complexity is the enemy of success, because if we cannot execute, then we definitely cannot be successful.
Complexity steals our focus, it’s impossible for us to focus on complex things.
Complexity steals our confidence, and without confidence we seriously impact our ability to be successful.
Complexity steals our understanding, and without understanding the quality of our solutions and actions is reduced.
We have a natural tendency to overcomplicate things, and it has ever been so, even Confucius knew this as he said “Life is really simple, but men insist on making it complicated”.
The rate of complexity seems to be increasing with the proliferation of new tools, our interconnectedness and globalisation.
To increase our success we need to increase simplicity, reduce complexity and the clutter that surrounds our daily life.
It is possible, but to do so simplicity should be our starting point not our goal. We cannot engineer simplicity into complex situations so easily. It’s much easier to start simple and try to and avoid complexity as much as possible.
We need to have a simplicity first mindset, thats the only way we will end up with simplicity.
One of the challenges is that simplicity is more difficult to achieve than complexity, but if we deal with the difficulty at the start we will profit from simplicity at the end. If we give in to complexity at the start then we will be paying for it forever!
Some of the greatest innovators and entrepreneurs of the last 50 years have known this, Richard Branson says “Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make something simple”. But this didn’t stop him to strive for simplicity, because he knew the value of simplicity and the rewards it would bring.
Southwest Airlines, the only airline to be profitable every year for the last 41 years achieved this through simplification. They were the original budget airline, flying just one type of plane, the Boeing 737, having just one class and serving snacks instead of full meals. Their model was so simple that is have been copied by dozens of other airlines.
To keep things simple we need to be bold, aggressive and inventive, develop a simplicity first mindset, and be constantly looking for the simple solutions in everything that we do. It is possible, but it requires hard work.
I want to finish off this article, this call to arms in the fight against the common enemy that is complexity to Steve Jobs, because we have all seen and benefited from the simple, easy to use nature of Apples products and I can think of no better example as to why we need to fight and overcome complexity.
“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