People have a predilection and preoccupation with complexity, the complicated. We see this in our approach to design, planning, execution and mostly we see it in the way we perform work.
We seem hardwired against simplicity. We attach words like “beautiful’, “reliable”, “quality” and “best” to complex, costly and elaborate solutions. We struggle to accept simple is enough.
It is with little wonder that we seek first to re-invent than to leverage from what is ready, available and useful.
Take projects for example. Too many projects failed to deliver successfully because they first failed to address the simple.
We are only too quick to dive into acclaimed methodologies, often ourselves unclear of its meaning, often confused by guidelines (PMBOK), frameworks (Prince2), mind-set (Agile) notwithstanding Critical Path, Critical Chain, Six Sigma, Lean and/or Scrum. Is it a wonder that when these, and they do, fail, we blame all but our failure to first address the simple questions.
“Why” answers the question of needs. Why are we doing this – what / whose needs are we satisfying?
“What” answers the question of deliverables. What outputs must be delivered and to whose / what expectations?
“Which” answers the question of capacity. Which resources will be available and how will we know?
“Where” answers the question of constraint. Where should resources be concentrated to get optimise outcome or throughput?
“When” answers the question of availability. When will resources be available and how will we know?
“Who” answers the question of capability. Who is the best candidate for the task and is s/he available now, if not when (what additional training will s/he need)?
“How” answers the question of execution – how do we go about to initiate, plan (collaborate), execute, test, release, validate, accept, learn, repeat, adapt, improve, innovate (collective will) and transition to BAU (business as usual)?How will we know we are successful (success criteria vs. benefits realisation)?
Work isn’t work if we don’t first seek clarity and understanding and outcomes are furthest from satisfaction when work fails to answer the simple questions.
William of Ockham — ‘With all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one”.