Over the past year, I have been reading more about racial and gender issues including history, theory, conscious and unconscious biases, and systemic oppression.
The more that I learn, the more complexity I see in our history.
See Something, Say Something
The more that I learn, the more outspoken I have decided to be in the face of those who seek to perpetuate systems of oppression, exploitation, and subjugation…not to mention outright racism and discrimination.
This has led me to entirely too many debates where someone takes extremely complex issues, with long, difficult histories and distills it down into a single oversimplified explanation or proposed solution (that is often coated in a thick layer of unspoken racism, sexism, or other prejudice).
In the rush to simplify and explain the situation, we reveal that we are collectively ill-equipped for a discussion that requires an exploration of something complex.
I’ve seen this before.
I’ve seen this in business.
As a strategist, clients engage me to come in and solve a problem. But sometimes, their expectation is that I will walk through the door with the answer.
In most situations the unfortunate truth is that it’s more complex than that.
Here is the thing about simplicity…
- That which is sufficiently simple, does not need to be further simplified.
- It is the complex issue that need to be simplified and you cannot simplify that which you do not adequately understand.
More often than not, when we run into problems, it is worth considering whether or not we are oversimplifying something that is extremely complex. When dealing with issues of a profound importance such as people in society, this is even more important.
We need to become more curious. We need to embrace the opportunity to learn something new. We need to stop being walking, talking Dunning-Kruger curves.
When we rush to simplify everything, we may not know enough to even realize that we don’t adequately understand what we’re simplifying. Most things are, in fact, more complex than we are willing to admit or devote the time to explore.
This is a good check for all of us, myself included.
Also published on Medium.