Complicated vs Complex
I am so chuffed to see my post on Complicatedness and Complexity take off – even if belatedly.
The difference between the complicated and complexity is important. We love the complex sound of music and are quickly tired of the repetitive noise of a jackhammer.
And complicatedness wears us out in seconds. Meetings which are run around the manager’s whim leave the rest of us to hang about like spare parts. Not knowing when our delayed flight will resume and not being able to call ahead to rearrange our transport and meetings renders us astonishingly irritable. Internet banking cluttered with advertising and instructions below the fold don’t allow flow.
The opposite of complicated is flow and we do know how to make flow.
#1 The task must allow us to act autonomously
All the information must be in front of us. We shouldn’t have to open dozens of files, folders and notebooks to find it. Nor should we have to ask anyone. Eveything we need should be in front of us and obvious.
#2 The task must give us feedback
As soon as we try the task, it should be clear whether we are doing the right thing.
#3 The task must allow learning.
A toddler persists in putting a square into a round hole until they achieve the insight, quite accidentily, that the shapes and holes match. We like to learn. We don’t mind at all.
But we must have time to learn. Don’t shout at us or time us our while we figure things out.
#4 We must be allowed to finish.
Once we get going, we want to get everything done. Please don’t interrupt. Wait!
We also know how to test flow
It’s easy! We take the group who is likely to do the task and we let them do it. We watch. We learn where we have misunderstood their skills, needs and working conditions, and we redesign!
Complicated – how I hate it!
But then I’ve always been a flow junkie!