Albert Einstein is credited saying Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Yet, many business leaders are preaching the KISS-principle―acronym for “keep It Simple, Sailor”―as it seems to originate from the U.S. Navy.
Although this principle was intended originally to be applied to system design, where simple and straightforward contributes to reliability and dependability, decision makers in business use it, more often than not, to demand that complex systems or circumstances are perceived in simplistic terms.
Simplistic means unrealistically simple, naïve, unsophisticated, or one-dimensional. For example, I’ve heard decision makers say that if one decision got them into trouble then another decision should get them out of trouble. That notion may be true for arithmetic where, for example, addition can be undone by subtraction; multiplication can be undone by division, and square root can be undone by exponents.
In business, decisions cannot be reversed or undone; they require a different action or actions. That action or actions may be simple, easy to do, and readily available at a low cost, but knowing WHAT to do and WHY it would solve a problem successfully is not that simple.
Solutions are not found in more and better data, information, or knowledge but in WISDOM; understanding how a business functions as a singular, unique, integrated and open system. Understanding is about structure―the arrangement of component parts into an organic whole; their interactions and interdependencies for the realization of a purpose none of the individual parts can accomplish on their own.
Not only do component parts interact and depend on each other, they also interact and depend on the environment in which they operate and from which they originate. This environment is more commonly known as market place, industry, society, universe, or planet earth.
Interactions and dependencies are relationships between cause and effect, and means and ends. And, the more complex and complicated the system, the less likely any one is to know, be aware, of all those relationships that determine success and failure. But we should at least try, show an interest in getting to know about them. This requires curiosity, critical thinking, which depends on one’s intrinsic motivation; a willingness, or eagerness to learn, admitting mistakes and correcting them. As a result, we may have to change our level of thinking about what we believe to be valid and true such as our values, beliefs, knowledge, theories, assumptions, and habits.
It is for those executive decision makers who are willing to change their level of thinking that I wrote THE ROOT CAUSE: Rethink Your Approach To Solving Enterprise-Wide Problems. Get your copy, now available for pre-order.