17 November 2011 blogs Gerben van Bokhorst 4 min read
IT complexity is taking its toll
From technology to transportation to professional and personal relationships, the world is certainly getting more complicated by the day. This complexity is transforming the workplace and pushing the limits of existing IT infrastructure. While on one hand we strive for faster, bigger, brighter, we’re seeing a need for simplicity in our world as well.
There’s no doubt that increasing IT capabilities are strategic for your business. How do you ensure the maximum productivity from your company’s investments and meet rising demands with an ever leaner team and sub-optimized infrastructure?
In the end, business and IT leaders are looking for tools that simplify their team’s work, help their people become more productive while at the same time reduce their costs.
Measuring IT Complexity
Is IT complexity a “gut feeling” or is it measurable. Well, measuring IT complexity is actually easier than you might think. Simply apply Glass’s Law that says for every 25% increase in the complexity of the problem, there is a 100% increase in the complexity of the solution. In IT systems, there are two contributors to the complexity of the problem:
1) The number of business functions in the system.
2) The number of connections that system has to other systems.
Time to Simplify!
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci
“Nature is pleased with simplicity.” — Isaac Newton
Psychological research on cognitive fluency shows why easy to understand equals more profitable, more pleasurable, more intelligent and safer. Here are a few studies on cognitive fluency (simplicity). They illustrate just how much can be explained by the feeling that something is easy to think about. (www.psyblog.com)
Simplicity gives us pleasure
Things that are easy to process give us a momentary burst of pleasure. When people look at objects which are easy to pick up, they produce tiny smiles compared with when they are shown objects which are difficult to pick up (Cannon et al., 2009—measured using electromyography). Sensorimotor fluency gives people a tiny twinge of pleasure.
Extrapolate this to IT Systems, organization, apps or whatever matters to you and the power of simplicity should be obvious. People like to feel pleasure almost as much as they want to avoid pain.
Simplicity allows effortless thinking
Fluency also affects the way we make decisions. Generally speaking our brains have two systems for reasoning. The system we are consciously aware of is slow and analytical, while the one that operates below the level of conscious awareness is quick, effortless and automatic. That’s our intuition.
When thinking about something that is easy to process, we tend to reason quickly and effortlessly (Alter et al., 2007). This isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing, but one standard effect of automatic thinking is that we tend to go for the default option. On the other hand complexity kicks the mind into an analytical reasoning mode, making it more likely our decision will go off the path.
The Power of Visualization
“A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound.” – Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote (in Fathers and Sons in 1862)
“Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu’un long discours,” or “A good sketch is better than a long speech” – Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte
The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is meant to convey the idea that a complex notion can be delivered with just an image. It also characterizes one of the main goals of visualization; principally to make it possible to digest large quantities of data quickly.
Visualization has been an effective way to communicate ideas since the dawn of man. Examples from history include cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek geometry, and Leonardo da Vinci’s revolutionary methods of technical drawing for engineering and scientific purposes.
Why do Athletes use Visualization Techniques?
Athletes use visualization to rehearse their movements. Because the brain doesn’t make different between an imagined event and a real one, new scenarios or situations seem familiar to the brain. Athletes will even use visualization to correct weaknesses, improve their game and increase motivation.
The same holds true for IT systems. We in IT are confronted with data overload. Not to mention that we now have developed alerts for many of the (unexplained) anomalies in our data feeds.
With visualization tools, It makes it possible for architects, analysts, engineers, and the rest of us to obtain insight in these data in an efficient and effective way. This is the first step in simplifying and optimizing your problem resolution flow.