Simple versus simplistic

The other day I was surprised to hear a radio journalist use the word simplistic (meaning childish or oversimplified), when they meant simple (straightforward and easy to understand). It made me wonder if other people are confused about these two words and whether this results in simplicity having a bad name?

I have a sign on my desk that says SIMPLICITY IS THE ULTIMATE SOPHISTICATION (courtesy of Leonado da Vinci) and it serves as a reminder to me as well as people around me. I am constantly exhorting people to keep things simple, but I’m not talking about reducing ideas or concepts to the point where they become meaningless. Quite the contrary, reducing the complexity of information should increase the impact of your message and make it stronger, not weaker. Simplicity is about focus, order and clarity. It’s about making it easier for people to understand what you are saying, so that it will be memorable.

Do you face this challenge at your workplace? Do you have any suggestions about how to encourage people to make things simple, rather than more complicated?

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4 thoughts on “Simple versus simplistic

  1. Unfortunately we live in a world where simple is not saleable and “sell ability” is where it is at. To be a success in 2013 we need to be educated, qualified, social media savi, artistically aware and prepared to spend vast amounts of money to be on top of the incredibly complex notion that was once termed “common sense”.
    We all now need a life coach because of the complexities that we must confront daily. Technology was supposed to make life easier but we are becoming less and less equipted to deal with every day SIMPLE occurrences.

    It aint that difficult folks. The emperor is naked. You see it, I see it – why cant the rest of the world see it.

    1. Yes I agree that we need to be constantly vigilant in the war against over-complication. People often do this so that they can appear smart or clever, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

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