Simplicity, Logic and William Ockham.

Occam's_Razor.svgSimplicity and why it is important.

“Life is too complicated” is a common complaint in the age of distraction we live in. We can make it less so by remembering the importance of simplicity.

One of my “This day in History” newsletters told me that today 26 May is the anniversary of a somewhat inconsequential but interesting day.

On this day in 1328, William Ockham escaped from house arrest under Pope John at Avignon. His escape was to avoid certain imprisonment and a probable death sentence. He had been detained by the Pope because of his reformist teachings. After publishing his belief that the Pope did not have authority over kings and countries, only church matters, his freedom and his life were in danger.

However, this article is not about religious teachings or the persecution of reformers.

It’s about another of William Ockham’s observations generally interpreted as:

Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

And known as Occam’s Razor 

How often do we get bogged down in complicated analysis trying to solve a problem? Then find that the best solution is the most simple. Perhaps not the most glamorous, exciting, radical or newsworthy. But the one with the most simplicity.

We can spend hours on researching new techniques, systems, tools, then find we already have all we solution to our problem. We overlooked it because it was old, too simple, not the latest.

I fell into this trap while waiting for copies of my book to arrive from the printer. How would I handle orders, print shipping labels. I considered using a fulfilment house to store inventory, looked at alternatives. Checked out several e-commerce options.

Then I realised that for the initial volume of sales, we could easily put books in mailing envelopes and take them to the post office ourselves. I bought a new printer so that I could dedicate it to printing shipping labels, then realised I did not need a dedicated printer for a few labels a day.

The final solution:

A basic plan on Shopify, a simple and affordable e-commerce site. Shipping labels printed on plain paper and stuck to the packages with transparent tape. One or two trips to the Post Office each week.

The essence of simplicity.

Do you look for simplicity when faced with decisions?

p.s. I found the Shopify e-commerce platform easy to set up and use, I recommend it to anyone setting up their first on-line store.


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