Welcome to Episode 21 of The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten.  Today we’re talking about how to simplify topics and situations that on the surface appear to be very complex.  A lot of times it takes this simplification to come to the real essence of an issue.

Steli just got back from a meeting where the entire group was making things overcomplicated.  A lot of times this is done when an underlying problem is not fully understood or when there is a bias towards what the underlying solution might look like.

Hiten goes back to some of the work of Steve Blank and Eric Ries and the Lean Startup methodology. Taking an iterative approach to understanding a problem first, agreeing on it as a team, and then beginning to formulate an approach on how to solve it should be the next step.

One of the surest ways to keep problem identification and thus the ultimate solution simple is to have discipline in taking a deliberate approach to defining the problem.  Hiten calls this Problem Alignment.  The best way to approach this is to align you and your team to the problem you’re facing, then the solution will be evident and creating the solution will come easier.

Steli goes back to the Albert Einstein quote “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  This should be the end point of your problem solution.  If you can’t explain the core issue you’re facing in one sentence then you haven’t spent enough time clarifying it.

The First Principles video with Elon Musk is a great way to start building this culture in your company. Watch and understand this video with Elon and then begin to implement the concepts of this in your own company and watch how your team understands and starts to implement changes to challenges you’re facing.

Today’s Tips

Steli: Sometimes what makes things complex is trying to find the perfect solution in one step.  Instead, take a step back and learn more about the problem.

Hiten: Find the person in your life who explains complex thoughts very simply.  Explain your problem to them and ask for their help in distilling it down to its essentials.

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