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July 31, 2020

Complex Problems Require Simple Solutions

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Simplicity is so underrated. We get in our heads that we need to be innovative and elaborate and complex to create a high-quality solution. More often than not, that is not the case. It’s the simple thing, that exists in plain sight that likely is the source of greatest potential.

Let’s take the example of a hose. You’re watering your garden and you realize the water pressure is low. There are two things you can do to fix it. You can increase the water pressure from the source handle, or fix the kink in the hose. That’s a pretty obvious decision, but let’s think about the concept within it. You can add more effort and force the pressure into the hose, even coming up with some elaborate contraption to do so, and it might achieve the outcome you wanted but with diminishing returns. But, if you fix the hose and simply evaluate the efficiency of the system, you can get the result you wanted without much challenge.

Beyond that example, there is an important distinction: Simple is not always easy. If you want a better relationship, kiss your partner in the morning and tell them you love them. Simple. If you want to feel more fit and healthy, exercise a regular amount and eat more healthy foods. Simple! Those things aren’t easy, cause if they were we’d already be doing it. There are complex emotions and associations and histories involved with these problems that often distort the clear and simple solution.

Steve Jobs described it well in this quote, “Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."

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