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Complexity and Clarity

Posted by Philip Smith on 1 May 2017

Keep it simple

It is easy to add complexity, in fact it is probably the norm.

This week I listened to a radio program where they were discussing the cost of living in Australia, where recent research indicated that consumer goods prices are currently the lowest it has been for some 30 years.

However, the cost of our ever expanding layers of governance, at all levels, with associated fees, utilities, taxes, permits, licenses, stamp duty and a gazillion other taxes and charges, is the cause of us going  broke.

One must not forget that every new law, rule or regulation has an associated cost, not just for implementation, but for the ongoing administration and that is often a complete waste of time and money.

The intention is not to have a cheap shot at government, but rather to caution that private enterprise is as prone to pointless and wasteful rules and regulations and we should be exploring ways of avoiding this trap.

New rules and regulations are often the default reaction to poorly framed problem definitions.

Understanding a problem requires the formulation of questions that matter. Should one ask the wrong question, the answer is irrelevant and any action taken, pointless.

Formulating the right questions requires clarity and the rejection of weasel words and concepts in our thinking.

Recently I had another "thinking" lesson from my grandson, repeated here as an example of clear thinking based on principle and clarity, resulting in a logical question. Jack is five and a half years old and smart as kids often are at that age.

During a game of Monopoly he had run out of money and landed on one of my properties. He "promised" to pay me back and after much joking around I said "you are just like a politician, always making promises and not keeping them". He zeroed in on that and wanted to know what a politician is. Hard question, you should try and explain that to a 5 year old.

I told him politicians are people we pick every few years to run the country and do things such as making sure we have schools and hospitals.

He then posed this question -

    "if they don't keep their promises they are telling lies and if they tell lies, how can you trust them and why do you pick them ? " .  At his age he figured this out based on some simple principles that we have taught him.

  • Always tell the truth, otherwise how can we trust you next time.
  • Always keep your promises.

Principle, clarity and question, he gets it at 5 !

Now consider what principles you employ when thinking and making decisions, but should you run into trouble, I can always send over my grandson to give you a hand.


Philip SmithAuthor:Philip Smith
About: Philip specialises in getting projects and businesses that are not performing as well as expected, back on track.
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Tags:Lessons from a 5 year old