I just started working at a company that makes shoe glue — literally the stuff that holds a shoe together — and over the past two weeks I have learned more about shoes than I have in my entire life (including my reading of Shoe Dog). The best way I can summarize shoe construction and the industry at large:
In fact the majority of what we do on a day to day basis is extremely complex. Driving to work in a car involves so much complexity. The fact that I am even driving a car, which in itself is difficult to fathom.
If we start at the car level and work our way down:
- A car is a summation of a myriad of different parts and components that come together to execute the vision of a single design.
- Those parts came from different factories across the world and all serve some function in the car — all those parts were designed
- All the parts are made out of something: metal, plastic, wood, rubber, chicken feathers. The parts were made out of raw materials came from somewhere and were chosen for a specific reason.
- Raw materials in this example are often products of refinement and design and actually came from other more raw materials. The rubber that goes into the tires was painstakingly designed and formulated to give a specific property.
- The raw materials that went into making the raw materials for the parts came from somewhere on earth and that raw material was either organic or inorganic. If it was organic it likely came from something that was alive a really long time ago.
- The animals and plants that went into making the organic raw materials came from well… not really sure. It depends on who you ask.
If we really stop to take a look at everything we use on a daily basis it’s all incredibly complex from a car, to the television, to the fact that we communicate via the internet. The majority of what we interact with on a daily basis is a construct of humans including our society.
So when it comes to things we are interested it’s often in a form that represents a reduced complexity.
- Eating at a restaurant is fun because I can sit there and they bring me food. I don’t have to grow food, shop, cook, or clean. I just have to pick something off a menu.
- Watching a TV show is fun because escaping the complexity of our own lives for the neat bundled and defined space of a television show is in the end a soothing relief even if it’s dramatic or horrific.
- Buying things is fun because the complexity of having to make or grow everything has been reduced — in fact even better if there is a brand or aesthetic of someone else that I can subscribe to so the complexity of choice is eliminated.
- The purpose and meaning of our lives being distilled into a book or even series of books detailing how we should live or behave (Religion).
I think a reduction of complexity is why minimalism is popular, why Marie Kondo is popular, and why clean and orderly places or natural places are calming.
Humans are good at making things complex.
Humans are bad at making things simple.
Finding a good place in the middle is happiness.
Companies that help reduce complexity without losing too much money for too long will always be successful.
Reducing is always going to be the next big thing.