A Complexity Complex

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“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

–     Confucius (551 – 479 BC), Chinese philosopher

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

–     E. F. Schumacher  (1911 – 1977), German and British statistician, best known for his decentralization concepts (hmm, he shoulda read Tuesday’s DD

Einstein said it another way (I’ll spare you the bold italics…):  “Everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler.”

You know what?  Let’s put that in bold italics, too. “Everything should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler.”  Or, as a buddy of mine often says, “Dude!  It ain’t rocket surgery!”

Complexity is the enemy of commerce, yet we suffer from a “Complexity Complex.”  We trick ourselves into believing that posing our stuff as really complex makes it special.  Nope.  It just makes it less-than-simple-enough.  The job is to make it just simple and there are 3 ways to get on that path.

1) Know what problem we’re trying to solve.  If you’re in the profession of selling something, you’re in the profession of problem-solving.  It’s weird, but so often the customer or prospect think they have a ___________ problem, only to find out that there’s a much different word in the blank.  Before we propose solutions, let’s make dang sure we know what they’re supposed to solve.

2) Ask more questions.  Ask better questions.  Ask “more better” questions!  Prospect says, “Hey, come tell me about your widgets!”  What do we do?  We tell them all about our widgets.  Only to find out weeks later that their widgets weren’t the issue, their widget installers were the problem they needed to solve.  (See #1…)  If we’re simplifying for effect, we might say, “We have awesome widgets, Mr. Prospect.  Before I dive into that, tell me, why are you asking about widgets today?  What led to your call?  Problems with another supplier?  QA pushback?…”

3) Use stories to simplify.  A golf ball example — since it might snow next week.  Choose any of the highly technical and crazy-wild-engineered golf balls you can buy today.  They’re expensive!  There are pages of data on spin rate and launch angle and compression that are designed to make people feel better about spending $56 for a dozen golf balls.

The problem with that?  Exactly 19 golfers in the world that don’t play for a living can translate that into modestly understandable English.  You wanna know what the real story is?  “Our research shows that golfers who switch to the “DD Ball” lower their handicap by half a shot, play more often and enjoy the game more…there’s some research behind that if you’d like more details…”  (Disclaimer:  Our stories have to be true, I used this for illustrative purposes, and because I love golf and it might snow next week…)

Some buyers will want the data behind the story. Some will insist on having it. And, we need to give it to them.  When we do, the data will be more meaningful if attached to a simple, compelling story.

Let’s attempt a ribbon around this post, shall we?

Life is simple. 

It takes courage and genius to keep it simple / make it simpler. 

And, “as simple as possible, but no simpler” is our target. 

 

 


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