Home > Essays & Text > Law of Complexity – Occam’s Razor – Increasing the Odds of Business Success

Law of Complexity – Occam’s Razor – Increasing the Odds of Business Success

When we undertake a new initiative, create a new process, design a new plan or even start a new business, we often build in safeguards – checks and balances, if you will – in an effort to reduce risks and increase the odds of success. Although our intention is honourable, such a strategy is faulty, flying in the face of the Law of Complexity: “Every additional step in a process increases the complexity of the process geometrically.”

This Law of Complexity can be shown mathematically as follows:

C = S2 where C = Possible mistakes, costs and delays and S = Number of steps

For example, if we add two steps to a process, the complexity of the processes does not double; it increases fourfold. Add seven steps and the complexity increases 49 times! In other words, in adding steps as a result of our desire to increase the odds of success, instead we have actually increased the chances of failure by enormously complicating the process.

William of Occam (or Ockham) was a 14th Century philosopher and theologian born in Ockham, an English village in the county of Surrey. His work on knowledge, logic and scientific inquiry played a major role in the transition from medieval to modern thought. Basing scientific knowledge on experience and self-evident truths, and on logical propositions resulting from those two sources, he stressed the Aristotelian principle that entities must not be multiplied beyond what is necessary. This principle became known as Occam’s Razor. It might be restated as follows: “With any problem or goal, the simplest and most direct explanation or method is usually the best and most effective.”

In other words, we should state a problem in its basic and most simple terms and then seek the simplest, most straightforward solution. Likewise, we should define a goal as simply as possible and then create the simplest, most straightforward plan we can devise, keeping the number of steps to a minimum. In short: KEEP IT SIMPLE!

This important principle of simplification requires first, clear, precise thinking – the ability to clearly identify the essential, core components of a problem or goal – second, the crafting of a clean, exact solution or plan devoid of any unnecessary steps and third, unswerving perseverance in sticking to the basic solution or plan.

Review your list of goals (which you are now in the habit of writing daily). Can they be stated more simply? What action steps have you built into you plan to achieve each goal? Can any steps be eliminated? Do you conscientiously review your goals and plans for their achievement and then act daily to execute your plans? This simple, straight forward approach to goal achievement will greatly enhance your personal effectiveness and your progress toward doubling your income and your time off.

What one action will you commit to take as a result of this blog post?
How will you follow through on this commitment?
If so, what benefit(s) do you intend to realize as a result of this action?
If you do not follow through, what consequences will you encounter and what will that ultimately land up costing you?
When will you complete this action?

Congratulations on your decision to continue in this year-long The Winning Way in business Process. I commend your high level of commitment and promise to do my utmost to support your growth. If you feel that anyone you know of could benefit by receiving our newsletter please get them to log onto http://www.WinningWay.com.au and they shall receive a free ebook as well as a copy of the ongoing monthly newsletter.


Ronnie Kagan

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  1. January 29, 2010 at 10:29 pm

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