Not surprisingly, the definition of simplification is pretty simple—to make less complex or complicated; to make easier; or to reduce to fundamental parts. It’s something we strive for in our everyday personal and work lives to reduce stress and to help ensure we get things right.
Just think about, for instance, the coach of a pee-wee football team. The key to teaching children (and even adults in a different example) is breaking things down to the fundamentals. The coach teaches them to block and tackle, catch and throw, and properly “tuck” the football while carrying it, all before attempting to run complicated plays and formations. Once these young players master these fundamentals they can move on to the complex skills and strategy—dragging your feet at the sidelines to make a big catch or executing a perfect spin move that leads to a sack of the quarterback on a pivotal fourth-down play. These skills can lead to playing the sport at the highest level, but many coaches and players would tell you that always keeping in mind, and having an appreciation of, the fundamentals is the path to the greatest of successes. Not taking the foundational skills to heart will lead to nothing but disappointment. Just ask the Indianapolis Colts (Sorry, my wounds from this year’s AFC Championship Game are still fresh).
The concept of simplification can be found in a host of disciplines such as mathematics and logic, a couple of the foundations of engineering, business and industry. Simplification is a basic tenant of algebra. If I can just remember back to high school, any complex equation can be simplified, making calculations much easier. The basic steps of the process are in removal of parentheses by multiplying factors, using exponent rules to remove parentheses in terms with exponents, combining like terms by adding coefficients, and combining the constants. Similarly, in symbolic logic, long proofs can be shortened, or simplified, by “eliminating” conjunctions, providing for the combining of “similar” assumptions.
Acronyms are a great example of how we attempt to simplify the complexities around us. Pick an industry and you will most likely find a number of popular acronyms that help professionals remember and describe procedures, policies, and best practices. The quality industry is no exception as I am sure we are all familiar with DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) and PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act). Finance professionals will recognize ROI (return on investment), NPV (net present value), ARM (adjustable rate mortgage), and APR (annual percentage rate). Business has CAGR (compound annual growth rate), P&L (profit & loss), and ERP (enterprise resource planning).
One of my favorite acronyms is KISS (keep it simple, stupid). Along those lines, this month’s Qualitypresents a number of articles designed to “make it easier,” including “Going Beyond Height With Height Gages” and “3-D Measurement and Rapid Manufacturing for MRO.”
As always, enjoy and thanks for reading!