Occam’s razor…

Without realizing it, Lockton KC producers practice yesterday put Occam’s razor into play. You see, 700 years ago, Friar William of Ockham developed a really simple guiding principle which states that humans aimed at excellence should pursue the simplest way forward. French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery “anded” if you will – “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” Not to be outdone a more modern mortal (Einstein) reminded us yet again. “Make things as simple as possible, never more so.”

So, yesterday, a team of very productive producers simplified. There are some laws of physics that govern systems as they grow. Fact. But most of what complicates and compromises our ability to perform are human decisions, mostly ones we’re not even conscious of. Complication creeps in, almost like a theif in the night, and robs us blind. Yesterday, a few young performers opened their mouths and opened some eyes. They brought forward some ideas to simplify. It helps to have young eyes look at old problems, leader, if you’re willing to listen.

How can you apply Occam’s razor to simplify and focus the aim of your work? How can you simplify your goals, metrics, meetings, emails, and decision trees? How can you cull activities to create clarity? I mean, come on man, how hard can it be to track what someone sells?

Occam’s razor. Good…

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Occam’s razor…

  1. Sully weighing in to put in a good word for complexity…some of what I learned while at BTL…

    Complexity is often conflated with complication. Nope.

    What some would call simplicity is actually simplism. Look out.

    Complicated and simplistic systems are vulnerable to death, dismemberment, and destruction at the hands of…

    Complex systems.

    Complexity is another word for the healthy growth of systems.

    Complexity is the “razor”-thin line where differentiation and integration meet–lots of different components brought together in a harmonious whole. Complexity is at the heart of “e pluribus unum” and those weird teams BTL celebrates. There you will find simplicity imbedded in complexity.

    Differentiation is the ability to engage in a greater number of activities (topics, products, services, parts, etc.). Growth in differentiation is the one you want, so long as integration grows with it. Integration is the capability to coordinate a greater number of activities effectively for a beneficial outcome.

    Differentiation without integration isn’t complexity, it’s complication. Lots of scattered, often quarreling parts. Think chaos, the result of strong centrifugal forces overwhelming weaker centripetal ones. Example: the political wing of the extreme left, where “diversity” is not a strategy for growth but an end in itself. A dead end.

    On the other hand, integration without differentiation is simplism. Simplistic systems are where uniformity takes precedence over unity. Everyone and everything must look, think, and act the same, so what’s to unify? Example: the political wing of the extreme right, where genetic and cultural sameness are the litmus tests, and limits, of community.

    Is the iPhone simple, or complex? (Hint: Yes). Is it complicated or simplistic? (Answer: _______Fill in the blank for extra credit).

    One of the ways great leaders lead is to insist on “both/and” integration of difference. It’s complex work requiring complex minds willing to suffer the slings and arrows of “either/or” minds who would pull their system to one extreme or the other…and towards destruction.

    Complexity is the ONE you want.

  2. Agreed Sully. Thanks for the good “and.” In my rush to get it out, I used the wrong word…

    • The most complicated rant about complexity you’ll read today, huh, Chet? Thanks for letting me blog out a comment; it’s been a while since I wrote something online and I hope you don’t mind my use of the BTL real estate from time to time. Love, love, LOVE keeping up with your thoughts from your 10,000th practice at companies across the nation!

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