Showing posts with label Minimalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minimalism. Show all posts

Saturday, November 18, 2023

KIS - Keep It Simple! SIMPLICITY by Edward De Bono

In his book titled SIMPLICITY, Edward de Bono tells about a probable story: 

Ballpoint pens cannot write upside down for any length of time. Ballpoint pens depend on gravity to feed the ink and writing tip, so ballpoints do not function very well on space missions where there may be no gravity. The task was therefore to design a ballpoint pen that would work well in space. At some cost this pen was designed. It is a brilliant little pen that is now generally for sale, Nitrogen under pressure supplies the ink and gravity is not needed.

It is said that the Russian space programme reached the same point. But instead of setting out to design a gravity-free ballpoint, they used a concept. They said to themselves: 'We want something that writes upside down.' 

So they used a pencil. 

The point Edward de Bono is driving home through his book is: SIMPLICITY is a Value, a Habit and an Attitude of mind as much as it is a process.

His compelling arguments on Why Simplicity? are: 

  1. From complexity come stress, anxiety and frustration. 
  2. Complex old practices are continuing because no one thought of changing them.
  3. A self-organizing information system (routines) simplify life both as regards perception and action.
  4. There is always the 'possibility' of a simpler way.
  5. From a mass of data learn to pick out what really matters. Simplifying judgements and decisions.
  6. Regard simplicity as a value.
  7. Simple procedures save time, money and energy.
  8. There is an aesthetic appeal to simplicity.
  9. Complexity for the sake of complexity has no value whatsoever.
  10. Simplicity is powerful, because simplicity is a unification around a purpose.
The challenges for Simplicity? are:

  1. The first rule of simplicity is that you must want to simplify.
  2. Simplicity is not easy. So commitment is needed.
  3. One becomes too easily satisfied with the existing protocols. So drive to change is needed.
  4. Simplicity should be considered as a value and as a habit.
The Ten Rules of Simplicity are:

  1. Rule 1. You need to put a very high value on simplicity.
  2. Rule 2. You must be determined to seek simplicity.
  3. Rule 3. You need to understand the matter very well.
  4. Rule 4. You need to design alternatives and possibilities.
  5. Rule 5. You need to challenge and discard existing elements.
  6. Rule 6. You need to be prepared to start over again.
  7. Rule 7. You need to use concepts.
  8. Rule 8. You may need to break things down into smaller units.
  9. Rule 9. You need to be prepared to trade off other values for simplicity.
  10. Rule 10. You need to know for whose sake the simplicity is being designed.
He lists out several methods, approaches or techniques for Simplicity:

  1. Historical review (Is this still necessary?)
  2. Shedding, Trimming, Cutting, Slimming etc. (retain only if justified)
  3. Listening (end-user perspective)
  4. Combining (eliminate and combine)
  5. Extracting concepts (why an action is being carried out)
  6. Bulk and Expectations (core and non-core activities)
  7. Restructuring (re-engineering)
  8. Start Afresh (back to basics)
  9. Modules and Smaller Units (work breakdown structure)
  10. Provocative Amputation (lateral thinking)
  11. Wishful Thinking (wish what the process should look like?)
  12. Shift Energies (shift focus from one part to other parts of the system)
  13. The Ladder Approach (work incrementally, step by step)
  14. The Flavour Approach (Design the big picture, and then make it practical and concrete)
SIMPLICITY is a thought provoking book, and it is of high value in today's context of hustle, complexity and dynamic changes. Books like IGIKAI and philosophy of MINIMALISM (Less is More) are increasing gaining popularity and getting into the mainstream thinking and lifestyle.  This book was first published in 1998, so it's quite interesting to see Edward De Bono's his pioneering thinking several decades ago. You can give this book a detailed reading and let's KIS - Keep It Simple!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why do you need more?

It was just another normal day, I sat in the taxi with my son, on the way to drop him to his pre-school. It so happened that we found a coin (HK dollar) on the seat. My three & half years old son, took the coin with playful innocence while I instinctively looked at the seat, just in case there were more coins accidentally left behind. My son asked me what Pappa? to which I responded, I am checking if there were more coins. I was subjected to a profound philosophical follow up question by my three & half years old son, "You got one coin,..........Why do you need more?"

Much of our problems of today's complicated world, can be traced down to this simple question, Why more? I am not talking in terms of ideologies like socialism or capitalism, but from the philosophical & from the popular culture point of view, which we all have created & subjected ourselves as the order of the day (societal norms). 
The whole yardstick of success in our modern society is How much money one makes? (micro-level), what's the GDP of a country? (macro-level). 
I am not advocating that the modern day's policies are 'plain black & white' or a 'zero sum game'. There has been many bright things like significant improvement in people's living standards, substantial progress in individuals economy, health, education etc. 
But the myopic vision & greed on materialistic gain, as the only yardstick of perceived success will keep on deepening the divide between the have's (rich) & have not's (poor) resulting in an unstable & unsafe societies (crime, civil war, protests), degradation of moral standards (money & muscle power, crony capitalism). Trust deficit within societies will continue to go on it's downward spiral, unabashed plundering of environmental resources will push us to hyper acute crisis state sooner or later (climate change).

The time has come, when we collectively as a human society now need to have a paradigm shift & readjust our trajectory of evolutionary process, towards a Holistic meaningful progression. 

Coming back into my day to day life as an individual, I do not have any ready made answers to the question "Why more?", which my three & half year old innocently asked me. 

However, over the years gone by, in my understanding one of the most important word in English dictionary is 'Balance'. 

Collective change will happen out of compulsion in near future (this is my strong belief - crisis will compel us to rethink & re-calibrate our direction). This collective change probably will take time, till the tipping point is reached. However, at an individual level I can at least strive to strike a Balance in my thoughts & in my way of life. I call this personal philosophy in my own words as, "Quest to be a Practical Idealist" - striking the right balance between practical-ism & idealism, to make a purposeful, meaningful & fulfilling life.