In the early stages of approaching a new problem, I inevitably find myself caught up in the enthusiasm and coming up with a solution or approach that is increasingly complex.
Resisting this tendency to complexification is hard. Especially in fields like visual design and information technology. See what apple had done adding skin tones to their emojis. Simple is hard because the possibilities are endless. But simple is also incredibly powerful. Look at the Google search page.
Resisting complexity is a discipline that perhaps boils down to keeping these key questions always in mind.
- What is the actual, specific problem? Are we reading/adding too much into it?
- What are we actually trying to achieve? Not what would be nice to have, or what we could do...
- What is the outcome we need to have right now? Are we distracting ourselves by planning to far ahead?
- Are we caught up in over-analysing the past, and working out how we came to be here?
- Are we making this as simple as we can? Are we trying to make the job bigger than it needs to be?
Ideation is necessarily a divergent activity that results in lots of options and possibilities. it is easy to become enamoured with many of these options, and to want to do them all.
By returning to these grounding/focusing questions, we can actively and iteratively whittle down the options to the core ones that really make a significant return for the investment in work.Image: Zen stone garden via Shutterstock.