The search for simplicity in life and work heightens after a good holiday break and at the beginning of each new year. Free of clutter, our minds thirst for what is important.

Complexity is not the enemy. It often has a reason for being. The very best cheeses (French) and wines (Australian) I had during my holiday break were complex!

Popular magazine articles on simplicity get it wrong year after year. Their “to do” lists fail to give due recognition to the justification for complexity. I like the 80/20 rule as explained in the Richard Koch book on the subject. Doing the important 20% is not about simply throwing out the other 80%.

A useful distinction can be made between complexity and complication. Complexity is OK. The target to attack and clear with simplicity is complication.

Law and legal practice involves complexity and complication. It takes intellectual courage and up-to-date knowledge and experience to distinguish legal pearls. Otherwise complications and legal mumbo jumbo grow like weeds. The economic malaise which became globally apparent in September 2008 had its epicenter in the United States. The collapse of entities there, here and elsewhere is some evidence of a failure in business, law and regulation to cut through guff. Less than useful lawyering shares some of the blame. People drown in it.

Solutions? Listed below are 12 concepts for working towards simplicity while recognising that things are becoming ever more sophisticated, complex and complicated. As intellectual property and business lawyers we seek and apply simplicity in many ways, eg in the drafting and layout of clear legal documents.

Each concept below can be supported with Lighbulb blog posts. They are lessons from experience rather than academic learning, multi-disciplinary thinking rather than from a single disciple offered at a university.

  1. The importance of self-awareness
  2. The importance of analysis
  3. The importance of historical perspective
  4. The importance of ethics
  5. The importance of definitions
  6. The importance of documentation and record keeping
  7. The importance of economics
  8. The importance of strategy and observing trends
  9. The importance of process and project management
  10. The importance of structure
  11. The importance of forecasting
  12. The importance of visualisation

Your comments would be very welcome.


Credits for paintings: The first is “The great wave at Kanagawa” from 36 views of mount fuji, c. 1829. The second is Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein, 1963, held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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Noric Dilanchian