Avoid Complexity, Think Simply

Guy Kawasaki interviews Chip and Dan Heath about their book Made To Stick.

And that brings us to the villain of our book: The Curse of Knowledge. Lots of research in economics and psychology shows that when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we become lousy communicators. Think of a lawyer who can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.

So very true! And actually in a discussion with someone last night, I realized I may have been doing this very same thing. It’s almost as though I have this vision in my head of what I want to achieve and since I haven’t achieved it yet, I may be overlaying complexity when describing my vision so that it appears more complex to others than it really may be. Thus this gives me an "excuse" for not achieving my vision because it makes it look like it is a very difficult and complex one to achieve. Yet in reality, it may not be that difficult at all, it’s just that I haven’t looked at the problem from the right angle or perspective.

I mean how many times have we all struggled with a problem over and over again in frustration, only to finally solve it and slap our foreheads saying "Doh! It’s so simple." Again, we just weren’t looking at the problem from the right point of view. Instead of opening our minds and looking at things from a different perspective, we stayed focused on a particular approach to the problem and continually hit our heads against the wall. At the point of giving up though, when we finally let go of all expectations, that is usually when we finally see the problem from a different viewpoint and achieve our eureka moment.

It’s funny. I’ve always said if you want to communicate an idea clearly, it should be simple enough for a child to understand. Well it looks like I need to start following my own advice in this regards.  🙂