ManagementSpeak: So that’s 2/3 of the votes are no.

Translation: Sounds like we’re good to go.

We owe Tom Grube a vote … of thanks … for spotting this example of ManagementSpeak at its finest.

High on the list of statements that are almost always wrong is, “It’s really very simple.”

Maybe something, somewhere in this universe really is very simple. Nothing comes to mind, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Don’t let Occam’s Razor confuse you. It … a foundational principle of modern scientific inquiry … advises us to prefer the simplest explanation that fits the known facts of whatever phenomenon we’re trying to understand.

Simplest doesn’t always mean simple. Too many of us, too much of the time, only explanations simple enough for us to easily understand, pushing aside any facts that indicate we need a more complicated account of the situation. Understanding that can be hard work, which might explain our collective tendency to find complexity irritating.

Unless, that is, it’s our own complexity that’s on the line.

Imagine, just for the sake of argument, you’re responsible for managing and running your company’s IT infrastructure. The plethora of Windows 2003 servers in your data centers is starting to get on your nerves, so you decide it’s time to secure the budget you’ll need to replace them with something more modern.

So you find yourself in front of the executive leadership team, defending the capital and labor costs you and your team estimate will be required to get the job done.

And “defend” is the operative term, because nobody on the ELT has any interest in the technical and logistical complexities associated with keeping obsolete technology running, not to mention making sure the applications that run on the obsolete technology keep running.

You do your best to explain it all, but in the end it’s just too complicated, especially as the ELT has been told you can just “lift and shift” everything to The Cloud and everything will be wonderful.

Ignore the outcome for a moment, and instead consider the dynamics of the failed conversation that just took place. The ELT found you irritating because you tried to explain the situation in all its complex glory. You, in the exact same conversation, found the ELT irritating because its members did their best to reject the exact same complexities.

Why the difference?

As a general rule, once any of us have committed the time, effort, and energy to master a complex subject we take pride in our expertise. It’s something we own. When it’s a technical subject, most of us, having mastered it, also enjoy contemplating the beauty of the elegant engineering it involves.

And we want to share that sense of beauty, just as someone with expertise in the visual arts might want to share how they experience, say, Picasso’s Guernica.

Their wanting to share it, though, doesn’t result in my wanting to have it shared, and in fact I’d probably find all that sharing irritating. I want to enjoy viewing the mural in peace, without having to filter out all that auditory background noise.

Back to your attempt to justify updating all your Windows 2003 servers: Keep all the complexity to yourself. Instead of trying to explain it all, substitute a familiar analogy. I find automobiles useful for this. You might find baking (our servers are like flour that’s long past its use-by date) or golf (they’re like a persimmon driver that’s starting to crack) work better for you.

Bob’s last word: But, you might be thinking, arguing by analogy isn’t legitimate. And it isn’t … if you’re on a debating team. And if someone challenges you on this point, it gives you an opportunity. “You’re right – this is just an analogy,” you might say. “But that leaves us with two choices. Either you can trust me, or I can explain it to you.”

Yes, it’s an ugly threat. But needs must when the devil drives.

Bob’s sales pitch: I have nothing new to sell you this week, and for that matter no new pitches. As always, if you find KJR valuable, forward columns to friends and colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.