Simplicity 8th January 2020 Bangalore




  • One of the main purposes of simplicity is indeed to make life easier. Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. Something does not have to be comprehensive to be useful.
  • The real purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking. The human brain allows information to organize itself into a routine pattern of perception and of action. So, when we look at something we instantly recognize it instead of having to work it out every time.
  • When local leaders have the ability to make their own decisions within clearly defined frameworks and with clearly defined general objectives, then the system is simpler and more responsive
  • There are times when complexity in a machine allows greater simplicity of operation
  • In any communication, there is a fundamental challenge to simplicity. The main aim of communication is clarity and simplicity. Usually, they go together – but not always. Communication is always understood in the context and experience of the receiver — no matter what was intended. Too simple a message may be elegant but might be open to misinterpretation

How to Simplify:

Much more important than simplicity as a value is simplicity as a habit. This means that simplicity becomes an automatic part of the design process whenever thinking is used. Values can be ignored but habits cannot be ignored

 Underlying them all are three key questions:

  1. Core purpose: WHY? Why are we doing this at all?
  2. Value: WHAT IS THE VALUE? Both positive and negative values. Both for the user of the system and for the system itself. (Difference between value & benefit: ‘Value’ is the potential that resides in a thing and ‘Benefit’ is the delivery of that value to a person in certain circumstances)
  3. Delivery: HOW? How are we going to carry this out in practice? It is usually the delivery mechanisms which need simplifying. The purpose of any operation is to deliver value to someone. The best operations deliver value to everyone involved.


  • Do a historical review
  • Shed, slim, cut and trim (Remember: If unnecessary things add to clarity or simplicity they should be retained)
  • Listen with ears & eyes
  • Combine different functions and operations
  • Deal with the bulk and make provisions for the Exceptions
  • Restructure
  • Start afresh
  • Do Provocative Amputation: What happens if we drop this?
  • Do Wishful Thinking: ‘wouldn’t it be nice if. . .’
  • Use Ladder approach: make each small process, or part of a process, somewhat simpler a la Kizen


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