Simple Structure

Day 99 Week 15 Q2 Monday, April 10, 2023

Creative Outliers can tend toward complexity. We have many ideas and like to show them off. This can be gratuitous at best and at times, simply confusing. When you have others working with you in a co-creative situation, you must bring them with you and not just place all of the responsibility upon them to keep up.

I know of new management situations where an exceptional independent contributor was promoted to a management position only to crash and burn because they outperformed those around them by so much that the team became demoralized, and the new manager stopped managing altogether.

Sometimes a simpler structure is more accessible to all involved, including you. Try to resist doing things just because you can, as they may not be needed and may be counterproductive.  Being the smartest one in the room is not a leadership posture. It is not useful to anyone at all. When your idea density eclipses everyone around you, you momentarily might feel great, but the project is not supposed to be all about you. Hopefully, you have learned this earlier in your career.

When the idea density exceeds not only your end-user but your team as well, you have crossed over into territory that you really want to keep away from, so retreat as quickly as possible, making all necessary apologies.  Eventually, you will get to the point where these apologies are no longer necessary because you learned how to stop before you get that far.

Simple structures are not just for others. They also benefit you directly in your own creative process, even when no one else is considered.  More is not always better. In fact, it usually is not. Simplifying a structure also speeds you up. Creative outliers may not like rules, but there needs to be some in general. The smallest number of rules protects the most degrees of freedom. The simplest structures also permit the greatest speed. 

When a creative person comes up with the smallest number of rules and the simplest structure that still gets the job done, they function optimally with no time wasted on extra rule-following and structure maintenance. It takes time to discover you need some rules and structure, and then it takes more time to discover that too many rules and too much structure slow you down too much.

The great thing about simple structures is you can transcend them when you need to without the muss and fuss that accompanies simplification and decomplexifying gnarly situations. You want your structure to support you, not imprison you. This also has the added benefit of simplifying collaboration, which should yield more leverage due to more stakeholders.   

The group mind is more powerful than the single mind, and if, in your case, it is not, either you are spending time with the wrong other minds or your mind is out of whack. When in doubt, simplify. It not only permits you to bring others with you more easily, but it even permits you to bring yourself along more easily as well.