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William Tincup, Complexity, and Grown Up Pants

Our board member William Tincup contributed today’s post.   Read the post, think about a complex issue in your (work) life and ask yourself, am I looking for the easy solution or the best solution?

What we do is hard. Really HARD in fact.

Human beings are complex. Work is complex. Software is complex. Everything is complex.

So, why do we gravitate towards simplistic solutions to complex problems? Why can’t we acknowledge that complexity is NOT the bane of our existence but rather nectar that makes our civilization great?

Take the popularized concepts of “big data” and/or “the cloud” and you’ll notice a majority of the language is about how simple it is. Don’t trust that. In fact, in both cases, we haven’t even begun to unravel the outer layers of complexities.

The thing is, we have to embrace complexity. We need to force those around us to also embrace complexity. Truth is, we’ll get to our desired destination by understanding complexity rather than avoiding it.  Solving big problems or capitalizing on big opportunities generally involves hard work.

So, when folks use keywords like: fast, easy, cheap, simple, etc… an alarm should go off in your mind.  Most things are marketed using terms like this but end up not being that way.

I know what you’re thinking: William, some things are indeed simple. I know, I know. Some things are, but most are NOT. The love I have for my sons is unconditional. Pretty simple. Yet talk to any parent that has grown up children and they’d tell you: my unconditional love was tested once or twice. Things can be simple, but when it comes to HR, workplace, employees, software, etc… nothing is simple. Nothing.

And it is about time that we, we as in ALL of us, recognize that fact. Time for us to put on our grown up pants, time for us to embrace complexity, time for us to stop looking for shortcuts.  Embrace complexity.

I heart complexity. Say it at the beginning of the day AND at the end of the day for a week. I promise –  it will change your outlook.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ron #

    Food for thought…

    “The reality is that when engineering anything, your job is to add simplicity. While it sounds like an oxymoron, the reality is that the easiest designs are the most complex.”

    www.addsimplicity.com/adding_simplicity_an_engi/2006/11/what_is_this_ab.html

    April 18, 2013
  2. This is interesting stuff. I agree – some of what we do is complex, and I also think a lot of our complexity is self inflicted. I think people have a tendency to overcomplicate their work in an attempt to protect their job. I think that sucks and often it is borne out of the culture of fear in many workplaces. I was surprised to read an article in HR Magazine this week that said ’93% of employees would strongly consider leaving their employer due to a culture of fear’. Seems kinda high to me – still it helps illustrate my point.

    OK – so let’s focus on what is necessarily complex. And here we find ourselves in a fight with none other than our own brains. Daniel Kahnemann writes in ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ about how we are naturally, cognitively lazy. Often when faced with a tough or complex question, we respond by answering a different, easier question.To this point I think William’s assertion that we need to remind ourselves to <3 complexity, is right on.

    Cheers – Doug

    April 19, 2013

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