Keep it Simple, Stupid!
In the first phase of my working life I was an engineer. One of my project managers, for many years, had been in the navy. He shared with me the KISS principle: Keep it Simple, Stupid. He’d learnt it, the hard way, in the maintenance of equipment on-board ship, but the essence can be applied in many, if not all walks of life. Beware undue complications or over theorising: they rarely help on the day-to-day practical level.
As a quality engineer, remembering the ‘right first time’ essence of good QA, I resonated with this: models (for example of how things fail) can be useful, but need to be applied with common-sense. The more effective solution to a problem is usually the simple one. And how often is there elegance in simplicity?
For example, say we want to monitor income and spends so introduce a whole raft of KPIs – Key Performance Indicators. Each day we collect the data and calculate these KPIs, so that a detailed and on-going review is available. Initially it seems useful: from the KPIs we notice some interesting trends from which we are able to make some useful improvements. But soon it becomes a box-ticking operation, something that we just do, because we’ve always done it. Some months later we realise that it’s taking a significant amount of time and effort to gather all this KPI data . . . and we’re getting no value form it.
Time to simplify, to get back to basics. What is it we really need to assess? What processes and systems are we needing to monitor? How can we do that most effectively and efficiently?
On reflection it transpires that all the KPIs can be replaced with a few, much simpler monitoring checks: and a significant saving in on-going costs is achieved. Always though with a note for caution and staying aware . . . that some factors are not now being checked daily. Being aware, being alert, so that we notice something out of place, is not only a simper form of on-going monitoring, but is part of engaging; part of each person involved in a process being tuned-in and conscious of all the nuances of that process.
Systems, processes . . . and people (!) are complex. There are some facts and indicators that automated or routine checks can usefully and dependably be performed, but there is also no substitute for simply being . . . aware of what we are each doing, as we go about our work.
The KISS principle not only encourages a back-to-basics approach to what we do, it also reminds us that doing whatever-it-is-we-have-to do mindfully is a simple, and often effective, way of checking that all is well . . . and spotting where improvements are possible or necessary. This is Working with Wisdom.
Beyond the image
This is Thomas Telford's suspension bridge at Menai Bridge in North Wales: simple and elegant . . . and certainly a 'bridge over troubled waters', if you care to observe the currents. Any wise or simple solution will take the forces of nature into account.
Images © 2017 George Petry.
This photo shows the need for careful/wary navigation (steering) through the same waters - at the change of direction of the tides, when the relatively calm waters turn up their hidden treacherous nature of deadly currents and hidden rocks below the surface. To simply stay afloat requires constant awareness . . .
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Dr keith beasley
As an engineer turned life-guide and Quality Assurance expert who did his PhD on 'Transcending Thought', I've seen life from many perspectives. We need them all to even begin to make sense of life . . .
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