Understand And Then Simplify

I had a report that I needed to write with a deadline by the end of the day. The information I needed was within a very large excel document. I was viewing the large excel document to get my bearings when I had a coworker tell me, “you need to simplify.” He then sent me a smaller document with a small list of just the key values.

I didn’t have time to explain, but one needs to first understand then you can simplify. I needed to make sure I understood what I was seeing, how the data was composed and how it was related. It is only after something is understood that it can be simplified. Don’t get me wrong, the simplified data set was helpful especially when practically applied for the report, but it represented simplification after understanding.

Taking understanding one step further, you can identify and derive principles which are themselves simplifications. This concept of finding and learning principles is a skill at the root of learning. It is only after you have gained the understanding, you can reduce the concepts down to working principles. Then with these principles, construct simplified models that can be more easily used and applied.

Suffice to say, I got my report done and I did use the simplified version, but only after taking a moment to understand it.

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