Occam’s Razor is the principle that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” In other words, the simplest explanation or strategy tends to be the best one. Despite the simplicity of this principle, it is frequently strayed from. Even when attacking a problem with this theory in mind, after a few minutes of failure or non-resolution we tend to veer off into big thoughts that end up complicating the problem beyond necessity.
In today’s society, we are often encouraged to “think outside the box.” While it is important to creatively approach problems and strategize about their solutions, “thinking outside the box” is not always the most successful path.
I have a friend who is a home maintenance contractor. He is obsessed with “thinking outside the box.” Over the years he has thought up some pretty creative home solutions and has been successful in tackling problems in a manner that his competitors would never have thought of. That being said, for every successful “outside the box” solution he has devised, he has had a number of failed opportunities to address problems with the simplest and most logical approach. Again, it is important to keep your mind limber and open to new ideas, but you should not waste time trying to reinvent the wheel just to be different. KISS!
A fresh set of eyes is often a great approach as well. I had recently been struggling with a problem a client of mine had been having – I had long abandoned the “KISS” credo. With each passing moment, my theories and the possible solutions to this problem became more and more grandiose. I wanted desperately to help this client and rather than taking a deep breath and stepping back from the problem for a moment, I simply amplified it by making it complicated. Finally, I called on one of my co-workers for their opinion. My co-worker – not familiar with the problem just yet, and of course not worked into a frenzy as I was – took one look at the issue and immediately pointed out one very simple, basic point I had overlooked. And low and behold, that tiny simple item was the key to the resolving the issue. That fresh set of eyes was so useful because the owner was calm, unburdened and thought about the problem on the most basic level.
So remember, it is important to be open to exploring new methods and ways of thinking, but addressing problems simply and at the root level first will save you a lot of time and very often allow you to easily and quickly solve problems.