“Simplicity came not by ignoring complexity, but by conquering it.” – Steve Jobs

I have been known to obsess over small things. Once I had a team member comb through a data set comprised of thousands of individuals to understand why three people, who made up less than one percent of the data were missing when we cut the data a certain way. Their presence or absence did not have an impact on the results. But I have learned that while some data anomalies are irrelevant, there are times when a small anomaly is a “canary in the coal mine” because it is actually an indication of something much bigger.

That is for me the meaning of the Steve Jobs quotation: “Simplicity came not by ignoring complexity, but rather by conquering it.”

Sometimes in seeking, interpreting, and understanding data, there’s a tendency to simplify or ignore the complexity because it may contradict what we deem to be true.

Sometimes in seeking, interpreting, and understanding data, there’s a tendency to simplify or ignore the complexity because it may contradict what we deem to be true. On the contrary, it is in the complexity, when data patterns are not obvious that I have found that the most interesting revelations emerge. And what we are looking at is only complex because we are using the wrong mental model to understand. So, “conquering” means understanding the truth that is being revealed, and when that happens simplicity will emerge. 

However, it is in the complexity, especially when data patterns are not obvious, that I have found are when the most interesting revelations emerge. Sometimes what we are looking at is only complex because we are using the wrong mental model to understand.

So, for me “conquering” means understanding the truth that is being revealed. When that happens, simplicity emerges. 

Each year, we try to create a fun and interesting New Year’s card that reflects a component of the work that we do. In this year’s card, we highlighted the Steve Jobs quotation, “Simplicity came not by ignoring complexity, but rather by conquering.”

To see our 2020 card, click here.

If you’re not receiving one of our New Year’s card, please fill out the information on the link below. Happy New Year!