Let’s talk about simplicity in the heart of complexity


”I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

This quote by Justice Holmes is pertinent in this socio-economic and geopolitical landscape as different governments, democracies, and institutions face myriads of complex challenges. I will explain why.

From the deal or no-deal Brexit challenging the UK and EU at the moment to immigration, gun control, and climate change, all these challenges were simple issues at the formative stages before becoming complicated.

This is why it is safe to say that simplicity and complexity are both sides of a coin. In other words, a simple plan can become complicated and a complicated plan can easily be simplified. In this day and age, it is common to look at issues in the most simplistic ways without considering the complexity therein. But when Justice Holmes stated that he would not give a fig to the simplicity this side of complexity he was referring to the side of complexity that doesn’t involve a lot of work, let’s call it the lazy simplicity. Many people operate on this level and believe every issue is simple.

A lot of us don’t subscribe to the rigor of hard work and dedication that the other side of simplicity offers. As a result, many consultants, analysts, and experts have made the erroneous mistake of providing solutions and analysis to issues without properly understanding the complexities within the task. Hence, they have given simple solutions that may eventually become counterproductive because the complex nuances to these issues were not factored in.

There are two kinds of simplicity. One is gotten as a result of digesting complex situations and then breaking it down to solve solutions. While it is not the fastest to achieve, the results are permanent. The other type of simplicity is lazy A lot of solutions offered based on lazy simplicity cannot stand the test of time because they were borne out of the lazy approach.

This is why it is important to always evaluate issues thoroughly before proffering solutions.