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Embracing Complexity: The Art of Rationalizing Complex Solutions

In a world that often champions simplicity as the universal answer, it is essential to acknowledge that not all problems can be solved with straightforward solutions.

While simplicity has its merits, there are instances where embracing complexity becomes necessary to tackle intricate challenges effectively. This article aims to challenge the prevailing belief in simplicity as the sole path to success and highlight the importance of rationalizing complex solutions. Additionally, it explores the significance of expertise and the relevance of vulgarizing complex solutions to ensure understanding, adoption, and impact.

The widespread belief that complex problems require complex solutions overlooks the fact that simplicity can sometimes be inadequate. Disagreeing with the notion that complex problems must have complex solutions, we also recognize that not all simple problems can be resolved with simple solutions. The key lies in rationalizing the approach and identifying the appropriate level of complexity required to address the underlying challenges effectively.

In the realm of product management, there is a prevalent mantra: simplify the problem to reach a simple solution.

While this advice holds true in many cases, it fails to account for the intricacies of complex problems that demand a more comprehensive understanding. Oversimplifying such challenges may lead to superficial solutions that fail to address the root causes, potentially resulting in missed opportunities.

Similar sentiments can be observed in various domains. In elevator pitch exercises, the emphasis is on explaining the company’s purpose within a short timeframe. Sales and marketing professionals strive to ensure that their value propositions are understood by diverse audiences.

While simplicity is desirable, it is crucial to recognize that certain problems require more nuanced solutions tailored to the context and complexity at hand.

To illustrate the limitations of oversimplification, let’s consider cost-based pricing as an example. While it may seem simple and align with the aforementioned principles, this approach often overlooks crucial aspects. It fails to focus on the end consumer, the unique value proposition, and the evolving market context. By explaining why cost-based pricing is suboptimal, we realize that the explanation itself becomes more complex.

It is important to note that accuracy does not necessarily conflict with simplicity.

There are indeed complex problems that have been effectively solved with simple yet accurate solutions. For instance, the problem of traffic congestion and pollution has been mitigated through remote work. The point is not to dismiss simplicity but to recognize that blindly pursuing it for every problem can be limiting.

Overemphasizing simplicity often comes at a cost. Pricing strategy optimization cannot be adequately addressed without considering price elasticity.

Similarly, other areas such as marketing & traffic attribution model, user experience, and product development require a comprehensive understanding of the complexities involved. By acknowledging the missed opportunities associated with oversimplification, we open ourselves up to more comprehensive and effective solutions.

Expertise plays a crucial role in understanding the challenges associated with complex problems. Subject matter experts bring valuable insights that help uncover the numerous obstacles to overcome when seeking targeted solutions. For example, measuring the consumers price sensitivity by only leveraging historical data may seem the simple solution, but it doesn’t address effectively the optimisation challenge pursued – Indeed, experts recognize the intricacies that demand a deeper understanding of consumer context, the product value vs alternatives, market trends as well as internal & external influencing events.

In some cases, complex problems should be solved with complex solutions. However, the key lies in vulgarizing these solutions to ensure widespread understanding, adoption, and impact – this should fall under the subject matter expert responsibility. Complex solutions often need to be distilled into accessible formats that bridge the gap between technical intricacies and broader comprehension. By focusing on defining the right solution for the right problem, even if it entails complexity, we can maximize effectiveness and drive meaningful results.

While simplicity has its merits, it is crucial to recognize that not all problems can be solved with simple solutions to ensure we don’t miss opportunities in the problem solving process. Gradually implementing the “Complex but right” solution has proven to be an excellent approach, ensuring targeted results without compromising and accelerating long-term value creation.


Guillaume Tujague, Co-founder and CPO of PricingHUB.

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