Simplexify!?


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Have you heard the new buzzword/term “simplexify”? I have heard it about 3 times in the last few weeks.  “The answer is to simplexify!” “We need to simplexify.” “In their haste what they did was simplexify and not simplify.” One of these statements is not like the other and is actually correct in its usage. Simplexify is the process of taking something that should be simple and in the end it has become overly complex. I thought I would bring awareness to this word before the dictionaries of the world get ahold of it and turn it into something more complicated. Unfortunately, simplexification is a growing problem for our businesses these days.

I have seen it a lot lately; a simple project gone horribly wrong through simplexification, a business process improvement event that actually needed a new business process improvement event to simplify the original business process improvement event (talk about simplexification). I have long held the belief that the best business analysis keeps it simple. We have all heard the acronym K.I.S.S. before right? Keep It Simple Stupid. It really is a good principle to follow. Yes, we do learn advanced techniques along the way, but it does not mean that they need to be used in a complex fashion. Just the opposite I think – they help us keep it simple and easy to understand.

My rule of thumb has always been do just enough so that the effort of your analysis is clearly understood and not too much where it becomes complicated. The BABOK uses the term “sufficient” frequently to describe the level of detail and depth you should have in your planning, elicitation, documentation, and more. Sufficient – just enough, meets the needs of the situation. It reminds me of a story my father used to tell me about my great, great grandmother. She would have her meal and when approached for a second helping she would always say, “I have had a great sufficiency, thank you.” A hard habit to develop for sure and one that I personally should follow more often (as I sit here eating dinner while writing this and thinking about seconds).

One example of simplexification that I run into a lot is when our words do not match our models. It is almost as if I was looking at two different projects. If we know that we have to speak in the language of our audience (which in many cases is at a 5th grade level), why do we then think more complex models would make sense? It is not just our verbiage that should address our audience’s needs – the visuals should too. K.I.S.S. Where do we go wrong? The barriers and challenges are endless; budget, time, scope, lack of authority, who knows? Sometimes it is simply our own approach and endeavors. It is hard to stop eliciting and documenting requirements and they could go on and on and on. I get asked all the time, when do you stop? When you have created a “sufficiency” and have not “simplexified”, because you could not stop.

Ask your stakeholders – they will tell you what they want. When they start to simplexify the analysis – be a stronger facilitator. When they want to go in a direction that seems counterintuitive to the vision – influence them.

In the end I neither want to oversimplify or simplexify this topic, but it does motivate me to continue to hone my craft, keep it simple, and keep working towards solid analysis that does not simplexify. Have you witnessed simplexification lately? What did you do to correct or prevent it? Here’s to a future of simplexify-free projects!

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