Keep It Simple — Stupid.” How often have you heard that while preparing a talk or a presentation? Like many such adages it masks a deeper reality. For those who are quick to deliver such advice, or who quietly labor under its influence, I offer the following thoughts.

First, there is nothing simple in the universe. That, fundamentally, is what makes the statement, Keep It Simple, so irksome, at least to me. As creatures of projection and generalizations, our tendency is to make things bite-size, like little morsels of Hershey’s chocolate. In actuality, the sheer magnitude and multiplicity of reality defies simplicity.

In fact, if you stop to think about it — and this may come as a revelation to you as it was to me — multiplicity is all that is given in reality. Allowing that, any attempts to arrive at a unified understanding of the world (or ourselves) is nothing more than conjecture. While we can conceive of a unity, we cannot touch such things because they are non-material.

Our desire to keep-things-simple affords us a measure of control in the face of overwhelming complexity — that is the plus side. Unfortunately, it can often lead us astray. Is there a solution? Yes — a simple one, for that matter. I think Alfred North Whitehead said it best when he advised: “Seek simplicity and distrust it.”

That you are just an idea in your head may take some getting used to. That that idea evolved to manage an infinitely complex world — i.e. to keep it simple — may also be difficult to accept. However, it is this kind of thinking that will open a new window on the world of the consumer, as well as your own. As always, I invite you to join us on this exciting journey.



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