Monday, July 2, 2012

Simple Complexity - Guest Blog from Wade Leslie

Guest Blog - Wade Leslie
Robotics Engineer
One of the authors that I highly respect and value the teachings of is Stephen Covey.  You will probably also find references to some of Covey’s teachings on leadership and effectiveness littered throughout Pete’s blog posts.

One of the ideas presented by Covey that has eluded my full understanding until recently is actually a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

It goes like this:

I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

didn't quite get the idea of the far side of complexity until I paired this concept with another idea referenced in another business book, “Good to Great”.  In this book, (in my case audio-book) Jim Collins talks about the parable of the Fox and the Hedgehog and brings to life the idea of a Hedgehog concept. In its essence a Hedgehog concept is taking an understanding of the world around you in all its complexity; your strengths, weaknesses and what you enjoy, and breaking it down to a simple idea about what it is your business should do and the economic driver of this business. The Hedgehog concept is the junction between:
  • What you love
  • What you can be the best in the world at
  • What will generate good revenue (See Good to Great, p. 118)
When you get it right it is simple. But it is the simplicity on the far side of complexity; it’s not simplicity ignoring the complexity.

The same can be said of a good mission statement, or perhaps even a good blog post. A good mission statement is short and punchy, yet encompasses the entire propose and values of a business, organisation or individual. It is simple but not simplistic.

Can your work be deciphered in all its complexity and narrowed down to one simple concept or mission?  To borrow another “Covey-ism”, of all the things you are doing or trying to achieve in your life or work, which one is “Widely Important” and an absolute non-negotiable?


Guest Blog by Wade Leslie
Robotics Engineer

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Wade, good way to get us thinking! Finding simplicity within complexity is always a challenge!


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