Kiss - The Art Of The Simple

Einstein once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” … well, no he didn’t; he actually said something that was a whole bunch more complicated*, but it boils down to the more popular quotation.

So why, when we all acknowledge that Einstein was an out-and-out genius, and he was probably right on the money, do so many of us put up with work practises and protocols that are over-complicated? Why, when we start to write a pitch or a proposal, do we all feel the urge - or even the need - to throw in as many big words and complex sentence structures as we can?

And why, when we first start down the road of creating a coaching culture with our organisations, do we try to start with a structure; a document or a bunch of rules all tied up in big words and grandiose ideals?

Language and communication is better when it’s simpler.

Take the Mission Statement, or Our Vision or whatever over-dramatic name you want to give to your company’s purpose:

“"The New Ventures Mission is to scout profitable growth opportunities in relationships, both internally and externally, in emerging, mission inclusive markets, and explore new paradigms and then filter and communicate and evangelize the findings.”

Right…well…good luck with that.

When language and communication becomes complicated, be it written or spoken, one-to-one or one-to-many, there is a gap between what the communicator is trying to convey and what the recipient hears or reads and understands. The longer the communication goes on, the wider the gap becomes, until the point is reached when the reader or listener disengages…switches off.

I strongly suspect you’ve done it yourself (getting to this point in the article is an achievement, well done); reading through something that you just know is going to be important or helpful, but in which the language is tough, turgid, boring or pretentious…and try as you might, you put it down, fully believing you’ll pick it up again…and sometimes you might even do that, but how many business plans or personal development books or whatever have you left unfinished?

The spoken word is no different; sitting in the audience at a conference and listening to a speaker using a whole lexicon of long words and an array of acronyms, how hard is it to keep your attention on what’s being said? How easy is it to drift off into a daydream?

My mission statement might be this:

Keep It Simple - Communicate With Clarity - Listen More Than You Speak.

*What he actually wrote was: “It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience”, but he was addressing scientists, it was in a time when education was maybe a little more rigorous and he was messing around with nuclear physics, so he’s excused some of those terms.


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