Two kinds of simplicity

There's a good kind of simplicity that makes it possible to connect the dots. There's another kind which amounts to over-simplification and more trouble than we bargained for. Switching from the bad kind to the good kind is not as simple as either kind of simplicity.

Sometimes we simply know what the problem is, what all we're dealing with and what to do about it. We're doing a good job of facing reality and being objective. We've established a node in a network of persistent objects. We also simply know where to go and what result to get to where we end up. That sets us up to execute straightforward procedures which are more complicated than the simple situation. The routine method contains "requisite variety" that matches how much can change during the procedure.  In Cynefin terms, these procedures are Complicated, not Complex.

Sometimes we don't want to know what the problem is. We expect we're dealing with a mess where we will get blamed for it, exposed as inadequate or compared to superior others. We don't know what to do about the mess and hope no one expects us to do something about it. In these instances, we will oversimplify what we see to minimize all these undesirable facets of our experience. We will overgeneralize exceptions, jump to false conclusions and dichotomize gradations into always/never assertions. When we go here, we're on the precipice of the worst breed of chaos. We're asking for trouble by doing a poor job of facing reality. We're giving simplicity a bad name and headed toward giving chaos a bad name too.

When we're caught up in oversimplifying, we're as afraid of the good kind of simplicity as we are of facing reality. We don't see a way to take responsibility, take action or take interest in making changes. We're fixated in flight mode, avoidance patterns and coping mechanisms. To get out of this closed system takes a major disruption to our complacency. We need a shocking experience of getting:

  1. reassuring protection from false accusations, blame and guilt trips
  2. surprising understanding of our fears, worries, and dreaded predictions
  3. mind boggling permission to persist with our avoidance patterns until they turn against us
  4. respectful pressure to watch for passing opportunities to make the switch

Providing those "shocking experiences" is not a straightforward procedure that simply connects the dots. It calls for lots of exploring, listening, questioning and reflecting to formulate the intervention in any persistent plot of avoidance. That leads to my next topic: two types of procedures.

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