Simplicity Takes Time

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo da Vinci

by Pete Ferguson

I’ve spent almost 20 hours this weekend boiling down a very complex process into a two minute video.

I’m amazed at how much work it became. Each time I would try to simply the process, the video would come out to over three minutes.

So I went back to the script. Narrated as fast as I dared. Then cut more out, changed directions, and tried it again.

Each time the process was the same. I had to ask: “What do I want the viewer to take away from our video?”

Simple answer: I want them to understand the process we went through to take a very complex task and make it simple. We had shared our vision with at least one of our worldwide vendors who enlist scores of programmers and they had said it was not possible to easily do.

So all the more reason for us to prove them wrong. The catch – all the programming needed to be done in 28 hours to win a hackathon. We had white boarded out the process many times. Each time removing complexity, boiling down to the essence of what we wanted to accomplish, preparing for the race.

The end result was deceiving – at first glance one might be tempted to ask “is that all it can do?”

But on a deeper dive, the question is answered by “that is all we need it to do – and it does it well with such simplicity.”

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

As the world invents more and more demands on our unprocessed time (cavemen didn’t have email to answer – all they had to do is find, hunt, kill, clean, and cook their meals …), it becomes essential to simplify our lives.

The only way to efficiently simplify is to ask: what is it that you want to accomplish? Then remove everything in your life that does not get you to that goal.

WARNING: There will be many who will tell you this is not possible. There will be many who will try to enlist you in their battle. There will be many who will be afraid as you start to succeed – because they dare not take on the task themselves for fear of failure. And these people will not be strangers – they will be people well known to you.

It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials. ~Bruce Lee

FinalCut just finished publishing our video to YouTube and it is 1 am. It is now time for quick sleep.

Good luck, and happy Monday.


One thought on “Simplicity Takes Time

  1. Pete, your wisdom resonates completely with me! I have been valuing and practicing simplification all the more as of late; I agree that simplifying is not necessarily so simple to do! Yet how valuable it is. Congratulations on releasing the final cut of your video…and I thank you for sharing the insights gleaned from the process!

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