“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

Leonardo da Vinci

Simplicity is the ultimate innovation. Too many things complicate life; simplifying life without losing value should be the goal.

Simplicity is an interesting concept. Everyone wants things to be simpler. The reasons for wanting this include:

  • Simpler should cost less.
  • Simpler should be faster.
  • Simpler should be better.

Simplicity can carry a negative connotation as well. For some, simpler may translate into:

  • Incomplete.
  • Handles only small problems; larger challenges require complex solutions.
  • Ineffective.

Why the disparity of mindsets?

There may be several reasons for the conflicting views of simplicity. Ego may be one.

“How can something so complex be solved so simply? Complex challenges call for complex solutions. If it was that simple, it would have been done that way already.”

You can hear the echo of the conversations that surround this type of reasoning.

Another may be resources. People are hired for specialized skills. If those skills are no longer required, then major resource shifts should occur. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially in light of the “doing more with less” drumbeat. It doesn’t have to convey that message though. It can mean reallocating resources, not eliminating them.

You can understand people losing sleep over this one.

Perspective may be another reason. If the problem is always solved a certain way, then it cannot really be solved another, not successfully anyway.

You can imagine people getting dizzy from spinning in their circular argument here.

Think. Stop. Shift. Simplicity is the answer. It can cost less and be a complete solution. It can be faster and handle complex challenges effectively. It can be better and results-centered.

Think about the examples of where simple solutions have solved complex challenges.

  • Google – simply locating the right information by searching through millions of records with a click. The web was transformed for the better.
  • Apple iPhone – simply touching a screen to type a message, answer a call, and launch an application. The mobile phone industry woke up to a new call.
  • Twitter – up to 140 characters to alert of an impending crisis, update hundreds or thousands of followers, and communicate quickly to masses of people. The news industry is scrambling to adapt.

In healthcare IT, simplicity needs to be the new driver in solving the challenges ahead. Mindsets need to shift. Delivering care is complex enough; the technology enablers need to be simplified while sophisticated.

A programmer may solve the problem by developing more code. A business process consultant may solve the challenge by adding extra process steps. The business leader may solve the challenge building a more complex operational model. Stop.

Shift. Simplicity is the new innovation. Leonardo da Vinci said it best, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” With the right approach to simplicity, innovative approaches can solve complex challenges with ease, grace, and power. This is especially true with the healthcare interoperability challenges that lie ahead with HITECH and Meaningful Use initiatives that are transforming healthcare IT. Solving these integration challenges with yesterday’s approaches will not scale to meet the demands ahead.

It is time to evaluate simple, sophisticated solutions to elevate our approach to a new level of performance.

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