And the simplest answer is probably the best for your business
Yes, you read that right.
When it gets down to it, the Universe naturally orders and organizes in complex forms. It creates intricate systems of beautiful composition that achieve brilliant tasks.
But it does them with simple steps and mechanisms.
Got your attention?
Before we dive in I also want to point out that humans seem to have a tendency for complicated creations. We gravitate towards making things overly difficult and specialized. This is a natural product of our intellectual selves because by the measure of evolution, we’ve only had these brains for the tiniest fraction of a fleeting moment.
We’re still learning how to use them.
We’ll get to how this has anything to do with your life and your business, but first, back to simplicity.
In any given moment, with any give objective, there’s probably an option that is far less difficult to comprehend or achieve than the others. There’s probably a way to make A become B that doesn’t involve 200 parts. Maybe it only includes 100.
Ultimately, the power in simplicity is achieving the objective directly and with less that can go wrong.
A wheel is fairly straight forward. Make every part of the road-contacting surface the same distance from the middle, put it on an axle, and done! The wheel will roll, spinning around that stationary axle.
A simple answer to the problem of motion. And what’s more, now we can carry considerably more weight whiel in motion.
On the other hand, we could have done it like this.
This is a complicated answer.
Complicated systems are sets of simple steps to achieve one or a few results, under specific conditions, in specific ways. They don’t adapt, and because there’s so much happening at once, they are more likely to have problematic issues.
The fact that the human mind can fathom and implement these complicated systems is fantastic. We are the, as Bucky says it, local-universe information-gathering entities that can local-problem-solve and implement-solutions.
In other words, we’re the thing in the Universe that can observe the situation and come up with an action plan.
And we had to stretch our idea-muscle to get where we are by playing with complicated.
But now it’s time to graduate.
Look at nature for some prime examples. Lets take cells.
They have two mechanisms we’ve identified that are nearly the same thing: diffusion and osmosis.
Essentially, the cell is a little version of us. It has organs and inter-connected systems. It has a “brain” called a nuclei where the data (DNA) is stored. And on it goes.
Nature needed a way for things like nutrients and water to pass into and out of the cell.
Diffusion is a very simple process by which anything that needs to pass through and is in proximity of the cell membrane will be absorbed and moved to the interior. And generally speaking it happens regionally, meaning that all of the cells in the area will naturally absorb enough of whatever small-molecule substance is around so that they all have equal parts. They naturally equalize with each other. But here’s the magic: It’s not a special machine that does this particular task only when it’s day time and the operator is at the control panel and all of the gears are oiled and…. no.
It just happens.
Diffusion is a simple mechanism of the cell system. It rarely breaks down, and it happens many many times a day.
Similarly, osmosis is the movement of water through the same membrane. And it’s even simpler. The water present on the outside, inside, and adjacent cells, will naturally equalize in volume.
It’s a simple mechanism of the cell. It rarely breaks down, and it happens many times a day.
It can be, more or less, explained in a few sentences. But it gets really fun when we think of all the things the body can do with this simple mechanism. It’s not just for a specific substance. There aren’t a million versions. Diffusion is for for all of them.
A simple answer to an objective that can be applied to any number of uses.
Combine that with the simple mechanism of blood moving through the body, and regional grouping of different tissue types, and you’ve just created a complex system.
Each layer in the scale of a complex system is simple.
And there is the key:
Complex systems take heavy advantage of SCALE. Micro, Medio, Macro.
So that any simple-element created can function at the same point of scale in OTHER complex systems. If we evolve as organisms to something entirely different, diffusion is still a useful element. And because it’s simple, it rarely breaks down… you get the point.
But the exciting part is that when you stack these simple elements together you create a durable, adaptive, powerfully complex system. A system that is anti-fragile.
So how does all of this talk of Simply Complex systems that out-perform complicated fragile ones have anything to do with your business?
The natural Universe has been creating these for a hell of a lot longer than humans have even been a consideration. And we’ve entered a point in our evolution that we now have the tech, the awareness, and the intellect to build them ourselves.
It might take a stretch at first, to get out of the habit of building complicated and into the passion for simply-complex, but you will thank yourself for putting in the work.
And even more, it is much easier to practice by modifying an existing system instead of attempting this from scratch. So to start, it can help to map out the part of your life you want to enhance. Let’s use business because it’s a straight forward example.
This has the added bonus of reducing time, energy, and costs; possibly even improving efficiency, profit, and joy in your business. In fact, the motivation for even considering these changes will be a better business that does what you want with less headache.
You’ve got a thing you do, in exchange for money, and there are different steps in the process. If you’re like most humans, this is probably a fairly lengthy and complicated process.
I like to start by mapping this out so that I (and whomever I might be mapping with) can have a visual, shared understanding of what’s going on.
Each point in the process is going to have an element of some sort.
Once you’ve got this mapped out, the mission is simple: replace each point on the map with the simplest alternative you can find. And more so, look for mechanisms that can function in other systems down the road.
I used to have a journal for my personal ideas and theories and notes.
I also had one for recipes, homesteading processes, and cologne formulations.
I also had a separate one for sketches of jewelry, and another for knives.
I had one for blacksmithing as well; and a small one I’d carry around for quick notes.
I had a book of shadows, and since I wanted that to be organized,
I had a SECOND book of shadows to take notes before they were copied over.
That’s SEVEN notebooks. each had it’s own complicated way or sorting data, and no single notebook could handle the other tasks. Some were blank, some we’re lined, some had grid paper. Only a little bit crazy over here.
Simplification was fairly straight forward.
Find a notebook that will functionally work for all of the tasks. The answer: dot paper, medium size, hard cover. I use Leuchtturm1917 notebooks now.
The dot-paper isn’t as intense as the grid, but more useful for sketching than the lined paper. And if you’re like me, your handwriting will wander to France and back if you don’t have something to guide the way.
So now I use one notebook for all of the tasks.
There’s one to keep track of, and because everything happens when it happens, it naturally sorts itself into chronological order. There’s no sectional system to memorize, and if I really need to keep track of something for a while, I’ll stick a colored sticky note on that page.
Simple, organized, effective, adaptable.
Ultimately, this is a small change in the grand scheme of my life, but it has fundamentally changed how I think, organize, travel, and work. It’s also pretty anti-fragile. I’m always using this notebook, so I rarely lose track of it. I don’t always know the date I did something but usually I remember what happened before and after.
I’ve gone through this process top-to-bottom with myself and others a number of times. As projects come, locations change, and systems form, it’s often worthwhile to double check that I haven’t gotten back into the habit of complicated.
And in case you thought you were off the hook: ultimately this is training.
We’re entering a chapter in humanity where we need to learn and embrace Simple Complexity over specialized complication.
Why not start where you can benefit most?