24 Jul Complicated, Complex, and Complexity
Complicated – difficult to analyze, understand, or explain. From Latin* – complicate (combine, entangle, intertwine – fold together)
Complex – hard to separate, analyze, or solve. From Latin* – complexus (a multitude of objects)
*Note that Latin is a language that was brought to Italy 1,000 B.C. and was used and spread largely by the Roman Empire
Complexity – something complex.
Thought for today.
“Complexity is not an illness. Things can be and often are complex. In my view, complexity should be viewed as a challenge to overcome or ‘marker’ of something needing further understanding. However, the presence of complexity can be a symptom of a much worse malady, the lack of understanding. The presence of complexity usually comes from a lack of understanding over a topic or area. It takes a high level of understanding to make complex topics or areas simple for others. A very high level indeed!”
So why then do we keep things complex?
- Lack of understanding, or
- Lack of care in finding a way to make it simple, or
- Disagreement that complexity is a problem.
Lack of understanding. It is not possible to make something simple unless it is first understood. I encourage you to embrace this idea and quickly use it. Don’t let the idea that you may not understand something well enough to make it simple bog you down emotionally. Instead, use it as a gauge on your dashboard (like an oil light). When something is complex and isn’t becoming less complex, use that as an indicator light that there is something there you don’t understand. The FASTER you do this, the more successful you will become. Some people, sadly, spend their entire life hiding from the idea that they may not understand.
Lack of care in finding a way to make it simple. Some people have the point of view that things are complex and that is just the way it is. While this is a valid point of view – I feel that it lacks a level of care to bravely go in and battle the complexity until one perseveres and emerges able to explain complex topics easily to others. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of bravery to spend the time understanding something well enough to draw it out on a white board or explain it using very easy to understand words and sentences. Care can involve making others needs more important than your own. In deciding to take hours to go through complex information so that another person can use the fruits of your labor in minutes is a high level of care.
Disagreement that complexity is a problem. Some people like complexity and don’t feel there is any issue with it. I’ve heard professionals say they like that things are complex – they will jokingly say things like “job security.” Our job security is in making things simple. If complexity is something you love, TTR is not the company for you. I say this with care, not frustration, anger, judgment, or contempt. It takes a lot of care and courage (see #2 above) to go in and spend the extra time to SOLVE COMPLEXITY because it IS a PROBLEM. Complexity is a problem for the person who doesn’t have your level of understanding or education and is trying to do a job. They desperately need to understand how to tax something or how to get money back in the door to offset an audit. It is very complex to them and they need help. Would you turn your back on them?
Why don’t I prefer complicated words or difficult to read sentences? Read above. I am a lover of language and communication. And I love all the complicated words and sentences and books. That said, I am willing to put aside my love of beautiful words and complex topics to do a job that others have not yet (heretofore) been willing to do. I am willing to put others’ understanding before my own love for words. Using difficult to understand language or words is no longer fun for me – it now feels like I’m trying to be a bully or know it all or show off how much more I know than another person – it is mean hearted in my mind because I know that some person out there will suffer from the feeling of not understanding and all the frustration that goes along with that. Would you knowingly hurt another person?
Don’t be a word jerk.