Enlightened Conflict

the myth of simplification

July 19th, 2017

simple i like

 

“The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde

 

 

“What a simple black and white world you must live in.” – unknown

 

 

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Communication.

 

Effective communication has been, and always will be, complex and complicated … and a good thing for society. Effective communication inevitably feeds into the minds and enlightenment of the listeners. If you dumb down communication inevitably you dumb down the listeners.

 

Old white men hollowed out communication. I imagine as they hollowed out everything else they found it inherently more productive to gain their objectives by hollowing out communication. Everything became soundbites, powerpoint bullet points and ‘elevator speeches.’ Effectively communicating complexity took on less importance than puncturing the mind with a quick sharp stab <and then walking away>. Old white men mastered the art of emptying communication to a point where businesses end up walking on the slippery surface of irrelevance <cloaked in a beautiful robe called “what is important for you to know.”>

 

Bruce McTague

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Well.

 

I may as well fulfill my contrarian obligations immediately – nothing is it is complicated complex not simple Life worldsimple.

 

Nothing.

 

Look.

 

I may be wrong but I think the world would be a shitload ‘righter’ if we just assumed nothing was simple and started acting that way.

The whole idea of simple and simplicity has … well … fucked us up royally. It has almost become an obsession toward which everyone is consumed by until we are either frozen into inaction <this isn’t simple enough> or we hold our “simplicity prize” up high proudly … only to find in our holy quest we discarded some essential items which would have actually helped this ‘simple idea’ live.

 

We all want to simplify our lives <or at least we talk about it a lot>, simplicity in thinking, simplicity in ideas and simplicity in work … and yet, as a generalization, we all seem to seek every way possible to complicate our lives.

 

We see simplicity as a way to solve problems and, whew, we are a certainly a ‘people’ of problem solvers <but also problem creators as a corollary>.

And, yet, “it seems simple …” may be the biggest problem of all and may be one of the most misused and misguided statements and thoughts in today’s world.

 

 

A good friend of mine, an experienced communications professional, always says “if you are explaining you are losing” as an argument for simplicity. The challenge is that it … well … isn’t an argument for simplicity. It is actually an argument for clearly articulating what you want, and need, to articulate.

In fact … as I will point out later in this rant piece … being too simple actually creates more confusion, therefore, simplicity could actually be creating the explaining.

oh my god cover mouth silence do not speak

 

 

<oh my>

 

 

And that is where the myth of simplification dies. It dies in truth and reality.

 

Simplicity reality, more often than not, consists of two opposing things – security/reliability, which anchors the sense of safety thereby justifying the common sense aspect of simplicity, & passion/risk/newness, which anchors the sense of movement thereby justifying the smartness aspect of simplicity.

Simplicity reality, more often than not, is an amalgamation of multiple fragments crating a mosaic which is pleasing to the eye <and relatively easy to grasp>.

 

Simplicity reality, more often than not, consists of some opposing thoughts in that, typically, if you have one… you can’t have the other.

 

Contrary to simplicity narratives the complexity actually brings in the pragmatism of a simplistic reality <and I would argue effectiveness.>.

 

All this means is that simplicity is rarely simple and trying to capture it in a meaningful single word or image is … well … not only silly but sells the depth & breadth of a decision or situation or idea or thought … or reality itself … short.

 

Reality is complex.

Life is complex.

Most ideas and thoughts are complex.

 

And there is no simple solution to complexity.

 

Simple is hard.

 

It is hard because sometimes, okay, most times simplicity is arrived at by distilling complex solutions/ideas down to its most efficient form.

 

business simplicity complex woekI would note that from my own business experience I would say that many times simplicity ideas can only be found from checking out all of the different solutions. And after sifting through everything simplicity is more often found in a “doh” moment <not an “ah ha!” moment> in that you may be surprised by the fact simplicity is just the thing that makes the most sense at the end of the day.

 

And why is simple THAT hard?

 

Well.

 

Al Einstein said, “Make things as simple as can be—but not simpler.”

 

Geez.

 

So simple isn’t the least.

It may actually be somewhere above the least and significantly below the most <complex>.

 

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek simplicity. But what it does mean is that simple or simplicity shouldn’t be defined by rules or milestones or trite “say it in 10 seconds or less” dictates or, well, any boundaries.

 

Simplicity defines itself it is not defined. Simplicity is reflective of the time, place, people, situation and solution needed.

 

Ponder that my friends.

 

What may make simplicity even more complex is, oddly enough, that part which should make it the simplest.

 

Simplicity, more often than not, is the nitty gritty stuff and not the more glamorous big vision or “big idea” stuff. It is about marrying principle and pragmatism and gradual improvement – piece by piece and part by part.

 

To me, simple and simplicity tends to be found in shit that most people would think has nothing to do with simple:

 

  • Coalesce fragments

 possibilities-plans-ideas-infinity-life-business-choices

“The whole is simpler than the sum of its parts.

Willard Gibbs

 

I think people would be much better off f they understood that while simple may be represented in ‘one thing’ it is actually representative of many things.

The best of the best ‘simplicity finders’ are the ones who are the best at coalescing fragments. Gathering up disparate pieces of information and figuring out how to make them whole in a way that

 

 

  • Box in complexity

 

Let me begin by paraphrasing a quote about how Sylvia Plath wrote…

 

“Whether Plath wrote about nature, or about the social restrictions on individuals, she stripped away the polite veneer. She let her writing express elemental forces and primeval fears. In doing so, she laid bare the contradictions that tore apart appearance and hinted at some of the tensions hovering just beneath the surface of the American way of life.”

 

Margaret Rees

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I used the quote because far too many people think simplicity is about stripping away things to showcase the core instead maybe they should be thinking about stripping away the veneer so that the truth can be laid bare.

Let me explain <you will not agree with this if you do not agree that simplicity is a ‘whole made up of fragments’>.

 

Simplicity, to me, is about using the complex parts to box in the whole.

 

making your point bracket triangulate business combine experienceYou either:

 

 

  • Bracket what you want to offer <simplicity resides within two opposing thoughts>.

 

 

  • Triangulate what you want to offer <simplicity resides in the middle>.

 

 

  • Box in what you want to offer <simplicity gets squeezed into middle>.

 

Now.

Some people may use what I just shared and say “simplicity is the distillation” and I would push back by suggesting “simplicity is reflective of all the parts as it shows the whole.”

Am I parsing words?

Maybe.

 

But when someone says ‘show a picture’ or ‘say it in 5 seconds or you lose them’ and be done with it … I just don’t think it is that simple. Simple stimuli are just as likely to confuse. Provide ambiguity. Generate a feeling of ‘lesser than’ <”I am missing something of value or I missed the opportunity to showcase some value”>.

 

— note: there is a lot of research supporting this thought —

 

Look.

 

Our minds are like real estate.

 

Space is limited and we can’t let every thought, idea, product, person or whatever have a place to stay.

 

That means where the rubber hits the road with regard to being simple and simplicity is that it must create some connection with whomever is touching that simplicity

 

I will end with Chopin. Chopin is one of my favorite classical composers. I seriously doubt anyone who has ever looked at any of his sheet music would suggest his music was not complex. And, yet, close your eyes and listen … it contains a simplicity that connects.

 

==================

 

“Simplicity is the final achievement.

After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”

 

Frédéric Chopin

 

====================

 

All I know is that we have totally fucked up the idea of simplicity to a point where simple, or simplicity, is more a myth than reality. This myth has hollowed us out – hollowed our thinking, our communication and our culture.

 

beauty in the breakdown 2

Most of the worthwhile things in Life are not hollow … they have depth & breadth … they are … well … complex.

 

Reality is complex.

 

Life is complex.

 

Most ideas and thoughts are complex.

 

And there is no simple solution to complexity but I would suggest that the beauty can be found in the breakdown of the complex to its simplest form.

a country of dwarfs

June 30th, 2017

 donald trump cracked smart phone twitter

 

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“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs.

But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants”.

 

 David Ogilvy

 

<political correctness caveat:

Mr. Ogilvy said this in the 1950’s as a vivid metaphor for the importance of hiring the best and not suggesting dwarfs are incapable of bigness, in fact, he hired a number of short people who were intellectual & creative giants>

 

===========================

 

“Never write and advertisement you wouldn’t want your own family to read.

You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife.

Don’t tell them to mine.”

 

——

David Ogilvy

 

========================

 

“It seems to me that we can observe the same set of facts yet some of us see the tragedy of the human comedy while other see the comedy of the human tragedy.”

 

————–

<Google couldn’t tell me who said this>

 

=============

 

 

So.

 

Yesterday was the first time I worried that America is running the risk of becoming a country of dwarfs.

 

Forget greatness … I am thinking ‘littleness.’

 

trump twitter storm

 

Little intellectually, little integrity, little dignity, little respect and little honor.

 

This worry came to me yesterday as a couple of Donald J Trump’s tweets popped up on my computer and I sat back and said “WTF … what is fucking wrong with him.”

 

 

Needless to say … this was not the first time I have said that to myself <or yelled at the TV> but yesterday … one in which he not only utilized his mastery of immature grade school name calling but he also diminished a successful woman’s intelligence <low IQ>, her mental state <crazy> and appearance <blood flowing from face lift> … I found myself thinking this is truly horrible.

 

 

diminishing women Trump immature

This is horrible in that in one tweet Donald J asshat delivered the diminishing trifecta against all women everywhere <albeit he directed it to one woman>.

 

 

And this is not just horrible from my perspective … or even from a “dignity of the Presidential position” perspective … but just horrible from anyone’s perspective <father, parent, brother, human>.
That said.

 

I have now reached a point where I have a method in evaluating what the President tweets and says because while I know very little he says is anything I would ever say, or believe is appropriate to say, I am willing to admit I may be biased in judging this incompetent intellectual dwarf.

 

Here is what I do.

 

First.

Jury of US President peers. How would I feel if Merkel, Macron, May, Xi or even Putin & Erdogan said this? Would I be outraged or simply nod my head sagely?

These, by the way, regardless of their physical stature are the intellectual and leadership giants of the world <some are also moral giants>.

 

 

Second.

Jury of Business peers. How would I feel if the CEO of Amazon, GE, Ford, Goldman Sachs or even the president of your local chamber of commerce, city’s largest pest control company or the head of the School Board said this? <and would they most likely get fired?>

These, by the way, regardless of their physical stature are the economic & social giants, or aspiring giants, of the world <some are also moral giants>.

 

trump behavior guide challenges

Third.

Jury of parents. How likely do I think a parent would go out of their way to tell their child “see this … this is exactly the way you should handle it!” For example … how many homes do I believe a father said to his son “Donald Jr., this is exactly what I would tweet your mother if she ever said anything bad about me to the Moose Lodge!”

These, by the way, regardless of their stature are the nurturers of the future giants of the world.

 

 

Fourth.

Jury of the young. How would I feel if I saw this comment or thought said by one teen to another … or if I saw my son send this to a classmate … or if I ever saw any young person send this message out to 33 million people? Heck. How would they feel if their girlfriend, or any friend, received a message like this? <although I will note that back in March 2016 I did suggest Teens celebrated Trump as one of them — from a maturity perspective>.

 

These, by the way, regardless of their stature will most likely be the giants of the world <and our fates will be in their hands>.

 

 

Fifth.

Jury of the trolls. How would the statement and words look if I placed them below any viable article in any viable online publication next to the slew of online trolls spewing their hateful bile?

These, by the way, are the intellectual and moral dwarfs of the world.

 

All that said.

 

More and more often I am finding Donald J Trump dwelling in the comfortable abode of the intellectual and moral dwarfs.

 

Regardless.

 

Ogilvy was, and is, right.

 

Hiring people smaller than you insures your company will never be a giant … but what if the hirer himself is a dwarf?

 

Sigh.company of dwarfs little people giants business

 

I cannot fire Donald J Trump. You cannot fire Donald J Trump. He is our president <that still hurts to type> and I have to start thinking not just about what policies he may actually someday implement but also how his actions, as THE leader of the country, affect the size, economically, morally and dignity, of the country … in other words … will we be a country of giants or dwarfs with his leadership?

 

Well.

 

We actually have two paths thanks to our mental dwarf of a President.

 

choices-path-shopping-direction-decisionsThe first is to accept his behavior as normal and permit it to become more normal outside the purview of the oval office and on our tween/teen smartphones, in the classrooms, on softball and soccer fields, in the bars and in the office.

This path has one destination … a country of dwarfs.

 

 

The second is to not accept this behavior as normal, or acceptable, or even good, and create a counter culture in which we recreate the foundation of civil discourse, respect, dignity and an increased valuation of maturity not bullying <under the guise of ‘fighter’>.

This path has several destinations but one certainly is a country of giants.

 

This choice may seem easy at first glance but the truth is that I do know, having run a business, maintaining an organization of giants takes leadership. And if your leader is a dwarf the path to becoming giants becomes more difficult.

 

Look.

 

I wrote recently that Donald J struggles with ‘staying above’ but I would be remiss to not point out that in the business world it takes a special manager to maximize people’s potential <even if it means outstripping your own ability & potential> AND keep your job AND keep your status as a leader.

I will admit that it takes a little bit of self-courage, a shitload of conviction and even some craftiness in your own responsibilities.

 

That said <now that I have given him an excuse>.

 

little trump pouting tweeting

……… little Trump pouting …….

 

I think what will help America overcome the intellectual and moral dwarf we current have in office is that the majority of people truly want to be a country of giants and we would prefer leaders who foster the attitude.

 

I can honestly say that I don’t care what generation you are <millennial, boomer, Xer, etc> or what your upbringing was or even what attitudes you may have … I can guarantee one behavior … and I will guarantee it.

 

The guarantee? Give us a giant as a boss and we will run thru walls.

 

And therein lies my larger call out. In my small corner of the world I will never be a giant <although I like to think giant integrity-like thoughts> but there are those out there who can do something bigger … and they should look in the mirror and start thinking like a giant, acting like a frickin’ giant and maybe all those people casting about for some guidance will take giant steps for the giants who stand up to lead.

 

Wow.

 

That would a giant leap of faith to attempt that.

 

Surprisingly, great organizations take giant leaps sometimes.

That is what makes them giant.

 

Correspondingly, great countries take giant leaps sometimes.

That is what makes them giant.

 

Sigh.

trump soul behavior tweet reveal

 

I would be naïve to not understand that we can observe the same set of facts yet some of us see the tragedy of the human comedy while other see the comedy of the human tragedy.

 

I can only hope that as the facts accumulate more and more people will see that USA has an intellectual and moral dwarf as president and he isn’t making America greater he is making it smaller.

 

Personally, I want to live in a country of giants. But that’s me.

 

Enlightened Conflict