Simple! Simple?

I love to crack problems. Really getting to the bottom of a phenomenon, pulling it apart, tracing the interdependencies and identifying the levers for getting it right (a well-serving passion if you want to succeed in the arena of Consumer & Market Intelligence).  Most frequently, once I present the solution, the actions to be taken and the backing analyses, people are amazed how simple it all feels and sounds. Which is a happy moment for all of us. But sometimes, I see unhappy, bored, disengaged faces. And then, I will most probably hear something along the lines of “you are over-intellectualising” or “this is too complex” or “you should simplify that further”. And then I go back to the drawing-board, work harder at the simplification. And often, I will come back with a simpler solution and look into happy faces again. And once in a while, I come back and I am still seeing unhappy faces. Albert Einstein said: “make every problem as simple as possible. But not any simpler”:  a solution is not simple because we want it to be, but because it works. Sometimes, the simple solution is insufficient to solve the problem. When you want to say “too complicated”, check if you have fully grasped the core mechanics of the problem you are facing and if a simpler solution is realistic – or just wishful thinking. Don’t be stupider than the challenges in front of you!

What are your experiences with simplicity and simplification? When does it help to drive out stupid cost and back-and-forth transactions? And when does it just mask a deeper issue?