Simple and Complex? It’s Simplex! #BCSLearns

There is no doubt that we live in a more complex world – for myriad reasons.  It seems as technological advances continue, global connectivity increases, and communities and organizations become more multifaceted, the complexity of those “things” around us mounts.  So, when I came across this concept of simplexity, it caught my attention.

Jeremy Kluger, author of Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) , defines simplexity as “the smallest number of highly powerful strategies to achieve maximum gain.”  In the brief video below, Kluger give his introduction to the term and a peek into his book.  “The universe is full of things that allude our senses,” he says, which makes it critical, to me, that we understand this notion of why simple phenomena become complex and how to flip that narrative.  In his video he speaks to organisms that have a “symphony of systems and subsystems,” which begins to help demonstrate that “everywhere there is simplicity in complexity and complexity in simplicity…getting mashed up together.”

So, how can the complex be made simple?  The last teaser in the video, Kluger states, “It’s simple…………………………..or not.”  Which is it?  Simple or not?  Ecologist Eric Berlow doesn’t feel overwhelmed when faced with complex systems. He knows that more information can lead to a better, simpler solution. View his TedTalk below (the first 3:40) where he highlights strategies making the complex more simple concluding by sharing a seemingly daunting infographic on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan making it simple.  Berlow seeks to prove that complex is not always complicated.

  1. Untangle complexity with quality visualization tools
  2. Step back, get the big picture, and embrace complexity
  3.  Simplicity often lies on the other side of complexity

As a principal, complex is not always complicated, we, as leaders, sometimes just make it that way. Let’s not!  Let’s clearly visualize with a positive solution orientation. Let’s avoid making decisions in a vacuum by stepping back, seeing the big picture, and embracing the complexity with finesse.  And, above, let’s collaborate with others to gather diverse insight to discover the simplicity on the other side of complexity.  After all, collaboration and diverse perspectives builds our collective efficacy.  And, what’s the factor that most influences student achievement according to John Hattie’s list of factors, by effect size:  collective teacher efficacy.  Dare I say that you could substitute another noun for teacher the would most positively influence other areas.

  • Collective principal efficacy would most influence teacher improvement
  • Collective administrator efficacy would most influence principal improvement
  • Collective parent efficacy would most influence child improvement

Add others and don’t forget to have a look at the short videos below…


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