As simple as that.

The Artful Engineer is gasping for a cup of strong coffee. Why? Another one of those meetings. You know the ones. The ones filled with “blue sky thinking”, “value propositions”, “cooking on gas” and the endless plethora of management bullshit.

Yet none of this trumped up rubbish is the reason for The Engineer’s overwhelming need for stimulants. Time to design a new bit of kit. The Boss wants it to be “like turning on a light switch”.

“As simple as that” he says.

The Engineer is no stranger to simplicity, in fact he strives for simplicity and elegance in every device he designs. Why then does this statement terrify him so?

Because few complex systems can truly be simple. Think about that for a second. You may be saying that the Engineer has missed the point, that you should be designing a simple system, not a complex one.

Now think a bit longer. Can a simple system do complex things? For the most part, no it can’t.

“But look at my iPhone,” says The Boss “look how simple it is.”

Yes simple to use, that is true. But look beneath the surface, what do you find? Complexity. Hardware with billions of transistors. Software code into the tens of millions of lines. Engineering teams of thousands. Far from simple isn’t it?

The Engineer does not argue that devices and systems should not be easy to use and operate. Neither should a device of any complexity appear complex.

No, The Engineer riles at the idea everything is as simple as the layman makes it our to be. True engineers define simplicity to be the minimum level of complexity required to fulfil the desired functionality and feature set.

So please, the next time you lift you phone, turn on the television or post to twitter, spare a moments thought for the Engineers who make such complexity look so simple.


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