Financial Data
Updated 15 Jul 2019


Why it’s important to keep things simple and think fundamentally

I think that we’re extremely fond of overcomplicating things. And, the increasing complexity of living and working in an always-on, digitised world is only encouraging our tendency to do so.


Nic Simmonds , 30 June 2018  Share  0 comments  Print


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Both in our private and business lives, we all want to know as much about a problem as we can – believing this will help us map a course to the best resolution.

In the business world, we are fascinated, sometimes to the point of obsession, about learning more. More about our operations and how we can improve them, more about our customers and their markets, and more about the competitors just waiting to overtake us if we fail to do our research, planning and implementations perfectly.

Knowledge is power 

“Knowledge is power,” as Sir Francis Bacon put it in pre-digital 1597. But I’d like to quote a few other great minds with a slightly different take on the matter – an approach I’m finding increasingly useful when it comes to running a business where confident decision-making is often the difference between winning and losing. 

  • “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”– Lao Tzu
  • “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”– Leonardo da Vinci
  • “It takes a lot of work to make something simple.”– Steve Jobs

Related: 3 TED Talks that could inspire unique ways to grow businesses

See where I’m heading? There’s a profound advantage in keeping things simple – being able to drown out the noise, shut off external opinion, and connect with our basic, fundamental thinking. It’s what allows us to trust our instincts and see what others cannot. And that’s where opportunity happens.

What happens when you think fundamentally

When we think in fundamentals, we’re given the freedom to dream big and envision goals that seem crazy to other people – even to ourselves.

Jeff Bezos’s main aim, even at a time before anyone really knew what Amazon was, was to become the world’s most customer-centric company. It’s woven into the fabric of Amazon’s culture, and many would say they’ve achieved it. But, they did so one customer experience at a time, in simple, incremental steps. This is how Uber, Apple and thousands of other successful companies got to where they are today, and it is how businesses like Tesla will take us to Mars – and probably beyond.

It’s not just business-critical decisions that can be enhanced in this way. A fundamental way of thinking is just as useful in everyday, tactical decisions, and I urge every business owner to try this method.

Related: How to ensure a business keeps on winning

How you can think in fundamentals

Pin down a goal, then simplify it into component parts. Things inevitably become a lot more possible than once thought. Take a break from the CEO’s viewpoint for a while, and work like an engineer instead. 

The next time you hear someone (including yourself) say that something is impossible, ask yourself what exactly makes it so? Once a simple outline of the barriers has been identified, simple solutions to everyone have a way of appearing.

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About the author


Nic Simmonds

Nic Simmonds is co-founder of Clockwork Media, one of South Africa’s best-known and fastest-growing marketing and communications agencies. Post-university, Nic cut his teeth creating online content as MyBroadband.co.za’s first employee. After a few years in publishing, he joined forces with current business partner, Tom Manners, to establish a small content production shop that is now five years old, boasting over 80 permanent staff and a portfolio including several big name brands.Today, Nic focuses on strategic oversight of the business, working internally with various business functions and externally with clients to drive the business forward.

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