Seek Simplicity Not Complexity In Goal And Path

Simplicity easily yields to complexity. That is, it is always tempting to make a situation or a solution as complex as possible. People make a refinement here and a slight alteration there, and before anyone realizes it, the result is totally different from what was originally envisioned.

Simplicity, of course, is not the same as being simple. While simplicity means identifying the shortest path, with a style that says "that's it," simple is merely paint-by-the-numbers and lacking in sophistication. Ironically, simplicity can appear the same as being simple because they both share the common characteristic of clarity. Complexity, however, is quite different. It is sophistication gone amuck, whereby confusion rather than clarity is the guiding rule. And a lot of confusion can drown clarity.

In distinguishing between simplicity and complexity, simplicity is recognizable when seen, but not definable. While projects always tend toward complexity, good projects result in simplicity when completed. These are usually the projects that satisfy the criteria for success in regard to cost, schedule, and quality.

In determining whether a plan is simple or complex, the symptoms are quite obvious. In the latter, many people request additions, changes, removals, or repositioning, so that the plan becomes full of exceptions and contingencies. Because this complexity makes it difficult to follow the plan, few ultimately do so. In another symptom of complexity, product developers must repeatedly explain their intent or meaning. In yet another indicator, the plan must be continually revised to accommodate different situations. The end result is similar to a rat following a path in a maze.

By contrast, simplicity forces clarity of thought, demonstrating clarity in destination and the path to take. It also requires less time and people resources to execute a plan, and gives people confidence because they know their mission and what must be done.

To encourage simplicity in project management, team members can first try to attain as much experience as possible in different environments; this provides insight on what works well. Also, they can capitalize on the experience of others to gain further insight.

Second, if team members determine that something can be done in two steps rather than four, they should choose the former, ignoring the tendency to believe that because something looks simplistic it must be wrong. More often than not, the correct solution is simplistic.

Third, project teams should ensure that all elements of a plan contribute toward accomplishing the final goal; otherwise, they should remove it. After all, it merely embellishes the plan, and might well increase complexity and confusion, either now or later. Finally, teams should remove biases from a plan. Thus, they should avoid treating an assumption as fact, and blatantly affecting approaches that have no basis in reality. Biases in fact and data only add to complexity.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment