‘First simplify, then exaggerate’ is a norm attributed to the praxis of Journalism. It has the merit of condensing clearly a way of doing things. In these few words, you can feel the richness of the task! It does not matter whether it is true or not that it’s used in Journalism. It’s said. And many people would recognise it!
Every profession, including ‘business’ has its version of it. Here are some of those from my consulting experience, as seen in organizations:
First simplify, then simplify again, until it’s all really simple and manageable and digestible. Then, everybody will be very happy.
Simplify anything that is complex, then ignore that it was complex in the first place.
Simplify, people don’t have time to read, or don’t read anymore, or forgot how to read anything bigger than a smartphone screen.
KISS: Keep it simply, stupid!
Simplify, then summarise, then pick one or two. It’s called prioritize.
There are obvious antithesis of these, which are not that common, to say the least:
It looks simple but it’s not, lets look for the complexity.
If it’s too simple, it’s not rich enough.
Show the complexity, it’s a complex system, don’t try to simplify it.
It looks complex, feels complex, smells complex, don’t try to make it simple.
No KISSes, keep it as it is, complex or simple.
The last group, the ‘complex is OK’ ones, do not get the same airtime. ‘Nobody has ever been promoted for promoting complexity’, a friend of mind used to say. And I used to say, ‘unless you work for the Santa Fe Institute (of Complexity)’
People who are masters at simplification, may be very clever, or just kidding themselves, or desperate, or lacking critical thinking, or having a tremendous ability to cut things in pieces and then re-construct. Who knows?
The reasons why ‘(complex) systems approach’ to business has not been completely developed is because it’s much easier to reduce the elephant to pieces and deal with each piece, than dealing with the whole elephant. Business schools dissect elephants.
Incidentally, there is a Third Way used by a type of people I call Corporate Saviours (insiders or outsiders) It’s the journalism quote in reverse: ‘exaggerate, then simplify, then take the credit’.