What does simplification really do in a complex environment?
Simplification is often seen as a positive thing in a complex environment, as it can make it easier to understand and navigate the situation. However, it is important to remember that simplification also involves trade-offs and can lead to loss of important information or detail. This can be especially dangerous in a complex environment, where a small mistake or oversight can have serious consequences.
One of the key dangers of simplification in a complex environment is that it can lead to a false sense of understanding or control. When things are simplified, it can be easy to believe that we have a complete understanding of the situation, when in reality, important details may have been overlooked. In this case our assumptions for our decision making are wrong. This can lead to poor decision-making and in addition to that to a lack of preparedness for unexpected events.
Another danger of simplification is that it can lead to a lack of adaptability. Here we don’t look at wrong assumptions but on the approach of decision making. Complex environments are inherently unpredictable, and a simplified approach may not be able to handle unexpected situations. A simplified approach could f.e. be a “fast track” of decision making where important roles for making better decisions are assigned to too few or wrong individuals (for further information I’m referring to https://overthefence.de/decision-hats/). A simplified approach may also limit the ability to explore new opportunities or find creative solutions to problems.
It is important to strike a balance between simplification and maintaining enough complexity to effectively understand and navigate the environment. This means being aware of the trade-offs involved in simplification and being open to new information and perspectives. It also means being willing to adapt and change course when necessary. A good formula seems to be: simplification in design delivers beauty, but simplification in management is inadmissible trivialization.
In conclusion, simplification can be a useful tool in a complex environment, but it is important to be aware of the dangers and to strike a balance between simplification and maintaining enough complexity to effectively understand and navigate the environment. An agile coach should be able to identify the complexities and come up with an idea that takes into account the trade-offs and the best approach.