De Bono's Simplicity Principles

A long while back, I stumbled upon a snippet of wisdom. Fortunately, I wrote it down, because the website that held this info is down. I have managed to track down the source to a Mr. Edward de Bono. His book, “Simplicity“, is available at Amazon.

The snippet of wisdom is related to achieving simplicity in designs. I am storing it here as much for your convenience, as for mine.

Simplicity Principles

  1. You need to put a high value on simplicity
    To get simplicity you have to want to get it. To want to get simplicity you have to put a high value on simplicity.
  2. You must be determined to seek simplicity
    People quite like simplicity if it does not cost anything but are usually unwilling to invest resources in making something more simple.
  3. You need to understand the matter very well
    If you do not seek to understand a situation or process, your efforts will be ‘simplistic’ rather than simple. Simplicity before understanding is worthless.
  4. You need to design alternatives
    It is not a matter of designing the ‘one right way’. It is more a matter of designing alternatives and possibilities, and then selecting one of them.
  5. You need to challenge and discard existing elements
    Everything needs to justify its continued existence. If you wish to retain something for the sake of tradition let that be a conscious decision.
  6. You need to be prepared to start over again
    In the search for Simplicity, modify if you can – start afresh if you cannot.
  7. You need to use concepts
    Concepts are the human mind’s way of simplifying the world around. Warning: If you do not use concepts, then you are working with detail.
  8. You may need to break things down into smaller units
    The organisation of a smaller unit is obviously simpler than the organisation of a large unit. The smaller units are themselves organised to serve the larger purpose.
  9. You need to be prepared to trade off other values for simplicity
    A system that seeks to be totally comprehensive may be very complex. You may need to trade off that comprehensiveness for simplicity.
  10. You need to know for whose sake the simplicity is being designed
    A shift of complexity may mean that a system is made easier for the customer but much more complicated for the operator.

De Bono's Simplicity Principles

7 responses to “De Bono's Simplicity Principles”

  1. Being a student film maker I find that films which use simple tools–such as good dialogue and camera movement–are far more satisfying than those which go for the biggest stunts. Wonderful principles!

  2. Has any one used the concepts while reviewing processes in an organisation? Would appreciate any inputs in this regard.


  3. Yeh!
    I stumbled on this debono from a book that refers to his satement. and reading it again kind of refreshes my memory on this word simplicity. It’s really worth a thought.