The Elegant Solution

by Dan


“Elegance” is a term I absolutely love. In fact The Relentless Pursuit of Elegance is my personal mission statement and what this blog is all about. Elegance has many differently worded definitions, but all essentially mean “understated beauty” or “effortless simplicity”. An elegant woman is one who is strikingly beautiful but isn’t adorned with unnecessary bling or paraphernalia. An “elegant solution” is one that is powerful in its impact whilst being surprisingly simple. In mathematics the elegant solution is derived by not stopping when you have derived a solution to an equation, but by keeping working on the solution until it is in its simplest possible form.

The elegant solution is a concept that can be applied to life as well. How often do we need to come up with a solution to a problem, and we plump for the first idea that comes to mind that does just that? I’ve seen this at work many times. We get a new requirement that we need to add into our process, and so we bolt on another step, or create another form or a spreadsheet to do the job. How often do we look at the new requirement as an opportunity to reengineer the whole process and make it more simple? Rarely in my experience. As a result our businesses become ever more unwieldy and complex, and our processes full of wasteful activity.

And so it was with my effort to simplify my filing over the last couple of days. My goal was to fix the monstrosity that was the filing pile. I achieved this by working through the pile and emptying the trays. What it took me until the second day to realise was, I could make this even simpler by reengineering my fling process to remove the need for the trays at all. As a result I have a much more elegant solution, and an even simpler office.