Performance Management Company Blog

Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Simplicity – Thoughts of Da Vinci, Einstein, Rockwell and Simmerman

In a blog post “Simple Isn’t Simple” by Dan Rockwell, he said:

Any fool can create complex. Complexity leads to confusion. Confusion leads to uncertainty. Uncertainty produces cowardice. Cowards never take meaningful action. Simplicity: Longfellow said, “… in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” John Maxwell said, “The leaders job is reducing rather than adding to complexity.” (Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2013) Lousy leaders confuse – exceptional leaders clarify.

Dan’s posts often inspire lots of reader comments, mine included. So, it all got me thinking about organizational behavior, teamwork and intrinsic motivation. (Most things get me thinking of those things, actually!)

So, my posted response aligned pretty well:

My approach is to view pretty much everything through a simple lens: my Square Wheels One wagon.

Guy pulls with rope.
People push from back.
Wagon “rolls” on wooden Square Wheels.
Cargo of wagon: round rubber tires.

Most everywhere one looks, things thump and bump along. Most customer service transactions. Most company call directories. Most systems and processes.

Perception of how things work SWs One

Pretty much everywhere, there exists an Exceptional Performer, someone who simply does things better. They use Round Wheels in this Square Wheel World.

So, identify and clarify. Discuss. Share. Support. Implement more broadly if that make sense.

CONTINUOUS continuous improvement of best practices that already exist, which applies to personal leadership practices (modeling) and organizational performance improvement (team building, engagement, intrinsic motivation, etc.).

Issue: You will / should never be truly satisfied with anything. Get over it.

Have FUN out there!

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The research I started on quotes led me to Leonardo da Vinci, who had a couple of good ones about people and performance:

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.

It vexes me greatly that having to earn my living has forced me to interrupt the work and to attend to small matters.

Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.

But the one that was attributed to da Vinci in Dan’s blog is one that is disputed: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. (There is apparently no source for that…)

And all that got me looking for one Albert Einstein quote I remembered and turned up a whole lot of different ideas that he had on the organization of all things. So, I thought to repeat some of them herein.

It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience. (from “On the Method of Theoretical Physics” The Herbert Spencer Lecture, delivered at Oxford (10 June 1933).

This is the quote attributed to Einstein that may have arisen as a paraphrase of the above, commonly given as Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. or “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”  The latter one is apparently not Albert’s; it is normally taken to be a warning against too much simplicity which is useful. DubbedEinstein’s razor, it is used when an appeal to Occam’s razor results in an over-simplified explanation that leads to a false conclusion.

I believe in intuition and inspiration. … At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason. When the eclipse of 1919 confirmed my intuition, I was not in the least surprised. In fact I would have been astonished had it turned out otherwise. 

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research. (from Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931))

Everyone sits in the prison of his own ideas; he must burst it open, and that in his youth, and so try to test his ideas on reality.
(ibid Cosmic Religion)

If A is success in life, then A = x + y + z. Work is x, play is y and z is keeping your mouth shut. (Said to Samuel J Woolf, Berlin, Summer 1929.)

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. (Said in a letter to his son Eduard , 5 February 1930.)

Yep. Have FUN out there and certainly keep things rolling!

SWs bicycle

Better yet, involve and engage a whole group to get rolling along in some other direction,

Bicycle Racers

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Scott, The joy of blogging is stimulating thought. You stir my thoughts. I’m thankful, if/when I stir yours.

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