Simple is seductive, but not always smart.
22-Jul-19 Theres a lot to be said for simplicity. For many years, the rule of Occams Razor obtained, and it dictated, that the simplest answer was most likely to be the best. Short, sweet, and to the point. Im certainly on record as being an advocate of brevity. But this is obviously not the be-all and end-all approach for every situation.
Contrary to the comics, most movies, and public opinion in general, in the real world, not everything in our lives or every problem has a clear-cut solution. Some conflicts and situations arent likely to ever be solved even over substantial periods of time and despite the best-intentioned efforts of many. Theyre basically facts of life that were stuck with for better or worse. One things for certain, though its clear that our lives and our choices have become a lot grayer these days and very little in them is black and white.
This modest fact would seem to be especially valuable for our presidents, politicians, and sundry media blowhards to remember as they fire off their latest knee-jerk responses to provocative tweets along with their pithy pronouncements and their startlingly simple solutions. Watching the latest Presidential debates, you could readily come to believe that there is often a neat and simple answer for any problem, but in fact, such makeshift solutions which distract us from addressing the real problems are also almost always wrong. The truth as far as choices goes is that only Thomas take it or leave it Hobson always got it right.
And, for entrepreneurs, exercising at least a little bit of caution is especially critical when youre talking about making tough business choices and complicated decisions.
Today, in just about everything we do, we hope to find a quick and straightforward reply to whatever were being asked and/or a timely and elegant solution for the problems were facing. This isnt so much a product of sheer laziness or a lack of intellectual curiosity as it is another symptom of the constant time constraints we now live with and the resultant hurry sickness that were all victims of to some extent. Its our ready, fire, aim world and its bad for smart decision-making and bad for building your business.
Sadly, weve come to believe especially in the startup world that almost any response is better than waiting to act until youve gathered at least some of the critical facts. We hear that research is the old way of doing things due diligence, homework of any kind, or trying to find the customers real problem before starting on the solution is so yesterday. I get that its hard work, that you cant figure it out sitting on your ass, that it all takes too much time, and that things around you are moving so very fast. But that doesnt justify settling for half an answer or not working the problem as fully as required.
Its so easy to say that its better to get right out there, be super-lean, launch something, and just start the ball rolling hopefully downhill. You can always course-correct and iterate along the way. But, just as likely, you can also become roadkill. To be honest, it doesnt really matter how fast youre going if youre on the wrong road and headed in the wrong direction. Looking for the solution without first listening to and understanding the problem is like working blindfolded in the dark. Some things just take time to do right.
And every entrepreneur today is also told that any decision right or wrong is better than not deciding at all. Its all about speed which drives and dictates everything else today.
But the real goal isnt to make the fastest decisions; its to make the correct decisions and sometimes that means holding up a bit and taking the necessary steps to assemble the required information so you can make a thoughtful decision.
Theres no job or case analysis thats so simple that it cant be done wrong if youre not careful and a little patient. In our busy lives, theres constant pressure to reduce the consideration sets and to simplify the choices especially if youre trying to manage up to a busy boss but its often a bad strategy because you cant reduce every challenge down to a simple either/or equation. It would be nice, but the world doesnt work that way today.
With all the data and other resources which we now have, we can dramatically improve the odds of getting to the right answer if we just widen our perspective and take in a few more alternatives. Yes, its more complicated and, if you overdo it, too many choices analysis paralysis will kill any progress at all, but too narrow a field and a refusal to ever look outside the silo leads as often as not to the wrong result.
When youre only offered black or white, youll get it wrong around half the time. But when you look at multiple options, the odds of getting it right move smartly in your favor and youll be batting .600 plus in no time at all.