Two kinds of people: complexifiers and simplifiers

There are several thousand ways to complete the sentence “There are two kinds of people, those that…” And in case the universe wouldn’t be complete without another, here’s one more.

There are two kinds of people: people that make things complex and people that simplify.

Complexifiers are averse to reduction. Their instincts are to turn simple assignments into quagmires, and to reject simple ideas until they’re buried (or asphyxiated) in layers of abstraction. These are the people who write 25 page specifications when a picture will do and send long e-mails to the entire team when one phone call would suffice. When they see x=y, they want to play with it and show their talents, taking pleasure in creating the unnecessary (23x*z = 23y*z). They take pride in consuming more bandwidth, time, and patience than needed, and expect rewards for it.

Simplifiers thrive on concision. They look for the 6x=6y in the world, and happily turn it into x=y. They never let their ego get in the way of the short path. When you give them seemingly complicated tasks they simplify, consolidate and re-interpret on instinct, naturally seeking the simplest way to achieve what needs to be done. They find ways to communicate complex ideas in simple terms without losing the idea’s essence or power.

I don’t know what makes a person fall into either pile (genetics, habit, experience?), but I do know I’d much rather spend my time with the simplifiers than the complexifiers. Don’t you think all the good designers, programmers, writers, philosophers and teachers you’ve known fit into the simplifer group?

81 Responses to “Two kinds of people: complexifiers and simplifiers”

  1. Susan Weiner, CFA

    I love this line from this post: “Simplifiers thrive on concision. They look for the 6x=6y in the world, and happily turn it into x=y.”

  2. Cyd

    There are two kinds of scientists – those who explore and those who know – one of which is moving while the other struggles to stand still.

    I abhor knowledge. I’m an explorer and knowledge is the end of the road for an explorer. For most, discovery means “now I know” whereas, for an explorer, discovery means “now I have something NEW to explore”. I don’t EVER want to know because I live to explore. Discovery is a part of exploration but “the [exploration] is the thing”.

    The scientific explorer of reality, existence, the universe and this world is a thorn in the side of knowers because, in their aversion to knowledge, they repeatedly falisify things other scientists have built careers on “knowing”.



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