The Heretic Logo


The Heretic is a free dispatch delivering insights into what it takes to lead into & in the unknown. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

be radical.

Feb 17th, 2022 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Obvious is Better

We brought up Occam’s Razor here before — the notion that “the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex, or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities.”

I find myself regularly arguing for the application of Occam’s Razor (or simply “taking a shave”) in product or strategy meetings with our clients. But the implications of English Franciscan friar William of Ockham are much further reaching — and will help you determine your “Capital-S” strategy, not just the “lower-case s” strategy, i.e., your overall direction.

All too often, we (myself included, undoubtedly) conflate the aim of our endeavor (the problem-to-be-solved) with a particular solution. And when this happens, smart people have a tendency to use their smarts to pick the most mind-pleasing — read: complex — solution to solve for the problem at hand. It might make for an intellectually stimulating endeavor, but it is, often by far, not “the simplest of competing theories to be preferred” as postulated by our clergy friend William.

Point in case: A company develops a new digital product — a million questions are unanswered, it is known that many iterations are necessary. It’s a true MVP. How is it designed? A series of complex microservices, built on highly scalable infrastructure, using a complex tech stack. Occam’s Razor’s version would have seen this company build a simple monolith in a common web programming language, run their tests and rebuild as needed.

Now, I would argue that when it comes to software, this is well understood and companies should truly know better. But how many companies do you see who are trying to solve a specific problem by throwing the latest (unproven, non-scalable-yet) tech at it, just because it’s pleasing their intellectual curiosity — rather than simply picking what works and scale the heck out of it. And trust me: The latter part (scaling) is hard enough — no need to add any extra weight by also going for tricky solutions.

That is all to say: Wherever you can, go for the simplest approach possible. The rest is hard enough — and there is no need to make it any harder on yourself.

Remember: We want to see you succeed!

1,291 Posts and Counting.
Don't miss the next post. Sign up now!