A New Edge for Ockham’s Razor

A New Edge for Ockham’s Razor

Ockham's Razor
Ockham’s Razor

Hanlon’s razor is funny – “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

Alder’s is alegedly sharper – “If something cannot be settled by experiment or observation, it is not worthy of debate.”

Rand’s is a bit of a head-scratcher – “Concepts are not to be multiplied beyond necessity, nor are they to be integrated in disregard of necessity.” Huh?

But since the 14th century, Ockham’s razor has sliced through more layers of complexity than any other philosophy. Friar and philosopher William Ockham proposed that “among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

If Ockham were sitting in a corporate board room instead of his convent, he’d likely say something like, “Simplicity and focus lead to the best outcomes. Don’t waste time assuming anything, especially that more options result in better choices.”

Unneeded complication arising from superfluous options is a common malady in corporations today. Outcomes are often more related to individual competence than to the size or breadth of an organization. Diversification can dilute focus as much as it reflects versatility. Global sounds impressive, but not if you need help in a small town in Iowa.

The next time you face a decision, get out your razor and trim away the complexity. DaVinci reminded us, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”