What follows confusion is clarity


Ever since I can remember I have always wanted things to be explained to me in a clear, direct, easy, way. No complicated words; no complex or convoluted explanations; no masses of facts and figures, just a clear, simple explanation or answer to my query.

Most of my life, my desire for simplicity has been ignored. Why is it that so many people are unable to provide a simple answer to a question?

I have pondered this thought throughout life and, I admit, had many struggles with lack of simplicity and confusing answers to the questions I have asked of both people and the organisations they represent. Sometimes as many as three different answers have been offered for the same question. Indeed, some people have laid the responsibility for their lack of clarity at my door, telling me, and I quote, “I would not insult your intelligence” in response to my request for a simple answer.

Clarity has nothing to do with intelligence. It has everything to do with working through confusion and complexity to get clarity.

Clarity and simplicity are great companions and usually come out to play together. When a person is crystal clear about something (how a machine works; a process or a system operates; how to create something specific etc etc) then explaining to others how to do that thing becomes incredibly easy and simple. The major challenge is to reach that state of clarity. The path to clarity is through confusion. The more complex something is, the more confusion there will be.

When mathematicians work with complicated equations there are masses of variables. There comes a point of confusion in solving that equation, and it is only by sticking with it and working through the confusion, that the answer is reached.

When Steve Jobs was presented with a new idea for a product, by his senior managers, he would often send them away and tell them to come back once they had simplified the idea. Metaphorically he would hit them with the simple stick. If Apple can do this we can all do this. Make things simple. That has always been my motto, my desire, my basic need. To have things simple – no matter what they are.

Many business processes today, are so complex that people have failed to complete the task of pushing through the complexity to reach clarity. The processes, although in use, remain largely unsolved. The last step, and invariably the hardest step, is to emerge out of confusion and into clarity. It requires thinking, to keep working through all the variables until something is completely solved. Most of us are either in too much of a rush or do not care enough.

So, to become crystal clear and to achieve clarity, we must solve all the confusion which precedes it. What follows confusion is clarity – only if you work at it. Ask any mathematician.

Sheila Holt, Managing Director, Sapphire Lending Ltd www.sapphirelending.com

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