Complex vs. complicated

This is something I have been processing the last few days after watching some TED videos. 

One of the speakers put it this way. 

“A French baguette is complex, but a mushroom onion loaf is complicated” 

But of those are bread and both of those have similar ingredients, but one has a complex nature and the other is complicated.



Complex ideas actually bring simplicity in the end.

Think about Apple. Many would argue that they are very simple in their strategy; they basically have a few notebooks, a few desktops, a few music players, and a few portable devices. The one thing that is stronger now more than ever is their branding. Brushed metal, glass, and clean lines could be used to describe basically all their products. What you do not see though is all the complexity inside those pieces of technology, and all the programs running in the background to give you a simple working platform. Apple is an extremely complex company, just watch one of the videos on how they make a MacBook or an iPhone, but what the user receives is simplicity. 

Complicated. That is not that difficult to imagine. 

I can give one example to sum it up in a few words…… DMV. The DMV is actually a very simple place in what they provide. You can get a license, renew your old one, or update information. Everything there has to do with cars and licenses, but somehow they have managed to make it a very difficult thing to navigate through. They have turned something that should be easy into something complicated. 


Complexity can have a unifying capability. Rather than dividing, it brings all the pieces together. Trends begin to show, and people actually see the big ideas inside of the complexity.  Complexity (done right) can bring simplicity and unity with all elements working together for a common goal. 


A real life example of simplistic complexity: I am part of the Christmas presentation at Highlands this year and we had practice earlier this week. For this production there is a full band, click tracks, sound effects, intelligent lighting controls, videos, a set of monologues, other actors, and a video message. There are tons of elements being used, but all of that together brings a very simple and direct message.

Christ is powerful enough to change the heart of anyone

All those elements, all that “stuff” points to that message. It is complex, but it is simple

About jameseaton

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