Any Intelligent Fool Can

complexity can get crazy

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius…and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. ~ E.F. Schumacher

You may have been in those meetings as well. You know the ones where insanity seems to be ok. I was there years ago listening to a developer talking continuously about why something couldn’t be done. It droned on. And it was acceptable to everyone in the room.

The tradition in the client organization I was servicing was thick with complexity and an inability to shift to simpler models of building a better product, much less running a more innovative product development team.

Money used to flow when the world moved slower and there was less competitive pressure. But losing revenue year over year did shine a light on how intelligent fools could get caught up in making things bigger and harder, not simpler and faster.

I suspect that when you get to hang out with as many companies as I have, you would see a similar pattern repeatedly. It’s sad, but it’s also reality.

I think it’s unintentional, much like that epiphany you get when you look around and wonder how all this stuff and responsibility ended up in your lap. Indiscretion allows random things to fill voids.

But the game today, especially with our connected economy and the relentless speed, is to stay simple so you can be ready. This means you have to keep pruning, innovating and testing. Security is not going to come from what looks tried and true and then sitting on it building a fat empire.

True security comes down to both personal leadership and organizational habits. It’s vigilance around what is continually happening around you and adapting. It’s agility.

If you keep letting things get bigger and bloated, it gets in the way of seeing and executing what becomes relevant all too soon.

Look around. I’m sure there are plenty of fronts to apply such a touch of genius.