Simplifying the Complex

I think ‘simplifying’ things is an art that needs to be mastered over time. Some people are naturally good at it while others have to put in deliberate practice to hone the skill (same as storytelling).

When we assess┬ádeal with things be it a personal matter or work related, we are using various faculties of our brain including emotions. Depending on our analysis, we may tag the matter as ‘complex’. It can be overwhelming when one has to decide on a matter perceived as complex. At this time analysis paralysis might kick in for few of us.

Some may find themselves stuck and are unable to make decisions. They find themselves tangled in the web of ‘complexity’ as they think of all the possible things that can go wrong, all the dependencies, all linkages ( both which can be controlled and are uncontrolled), possible reactions (mostly worst) from people impacted and how the whole thing will be a reflection on them.

Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying that we should not do a detailed assessment of the matter before making a decision, but we need to ensure that we don’t overcomplicate matters in our own heads. We need to be able to decipher the complexity, identify matters that we can control and the direction in which we want to steer. We need to be able to articulate ‘complex’ in simple terms.

I like to use a simple framework of focus and simplify.

This short TED video explains some ways in which we can simplify complexity.

My top 5 go to things when dealing with ‘complexity’ are:

  • Am I asking the right question/s?
  • Write down the problem statement/Write down the desired results
  • Draw – It does not have to be pretty but enough so that you can explain it to someone else
  • Involve the right people – be it to get a perspective or in decision making
  • Set a deadline – to save from paralysis analysis

How do you deal with simplifying the complex?

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