Sunday, December 05, 2010


The power of simplicity.

Simplicity - the art of doing less and less to make something more and more complete.

Creativity - Making complex things simple - Einstein.

Once upon a time there was a man. He was a very brilliant man with multiple doctorates from top universities. He also had special occult abilities. After practicing very hard using those occult abilities, he had gained some special powers. His spiritual guru had granted him a special power.

The special power granted to him was like this. Anytime he could command the services of a 'good' ghost which would appear and do anything he asked without  any questions. There was only one string attached to that. The ghost had to be kept busy all the time. If not, the ghost would eat our brilliant man and everybody with him.

Knowing the power of the ghost and knowing how difficult it would be to keep the ghost fully busy, our brilliant scientist had stayed away from calling out for the ghost to appear and do anything for him. He kept that option open only for some real purpose.

After a while, our brilliant scientist married a very beautiful but very simpleton girl from the country. She was not very well schooled like her husband. She was a simple village lass with very beautiful features and curly hair.

After the marriage, the couple left for their honeymoon. They were going to a beautiful seaside beach resort. It was a fairly long drive. It was rainy season. Unfortunately for them, there was a massive landslide and roads were all closed. So, newly married couple got stuck in between. They could neither go forward to their destination nor could they return home. They were stuck.

This is when the scientist thought he should ask the ghost to show up and do some work for him. He was thoroughly convinced that things that he wanted to get done were only possible by somebody with superhuman powers. Ghost was the only thing he could think of. He did consider the condition that ghost had to be continuously kept busy once it was summoned. Knowing the enormity of his wish and all other tasks he could give to the ghost, he felt fairly confident that  he could summon the ghost and keep it busy without much problem.

So, he did what he had to do to summon the ghost. Within seconds, a scary looking and giant ghost with menacing features appeared in front of them. Despite its scary features, ghost saluted him and his wife just like the way a slave may salute his master. With folded hands the ghost asked our scientist - what are my orders, sir?

The scientist told the ghost to create a beautiful sea resort right where there were. They were stuck in the middle of nowhere and he was asking the ghost to create for them a seaside resort out of no where.

True to its much feared reputation,the ghost rendered a beautiful seaside resort with all facilities and personnel in seconds. It was a transformation hard to believe.

The couple checked into their beautiful suite, specially done for their honeymoon.

In the excitement of possibility to consummate their marriage, the scientist had forgotten that he had to keep the ghost busy. So, he was somewhat surprised and annoyed when the ghost was not leaving their suite. He then remembered the condition.

So, he thought of a challenge for the ghost. He told the ghost - ghost, thanks for constructing this marvelous seaside resort. Now, go and count the number of fish in the ocean.

The scientist and his wife thought the ghost will be gone at least for few hours. To their dismay and horror, the ghost disappeared may be for a few seconds and came back. It gave the number of fish in the ocean. Also gave their rate of increase and decrease and provided a formula so that scientist could find out the number of fish in the ocean at any given time.

Now the scientist was getting worried because he saw what that condition meant. Ghost had to be kept continuously busy else it would eat him and his wife alive. Ghost simply had to be working 24x7 once it was summoned. No alternative.

Then the scientist asked the ghost to go and count the number of leaves on all trees anywhere and everywhere. This, he thought, would be far more difficult task because leaves are not only on trees but also on plants, shrubs, bushes etc.

He was wrong. It took no more time for the ghost than it had taken it to count the number of fish in the ocean. The ghost appeared in no time and told him the number of leaves. Not only that, it gave the scientist a formula to find out the total number of leaves using a complex formula.

After that it again respectfully asked for it's next order. Now scientist was in panic. He had underestimated the power of this ghost. Gruesome possibility of becoming ghost's food was very much real possibility now and he was totally freaking out without knowing how to keep the ghost busy.

His wife, despite being a simple village belle, understood what the problem was. She asked her husband if she could talk to ghost and try giving it the work that would keep the ghost busy for a while. The scientist did not think much of his wife but since he had no other option he was willing to try anything. He was willing to try anything even if it meant keeping the ghost away and them alive even for few more minutes.

The wife took the ghost away for a few minutes. From the distance, the scientist saw his wife giving something to the ghost. He saw ghost taking what she gave and carefully looking it. Then, he saw his wife giving the ghost careful instructions. Mostly about the job, he thought.

After giving the job the wife returned. There was a smile of jubilation over her face. She told her husband that the ghost was going to be busy for a long time and they could enjoy their marital bliss. The husband was not all convinced. He could not imagine any task more complex than the ones he had given the ghost without them becoming complex at all for the ghost. He felt bad for his simpleton wife and said with remorse that their end was near and they should get ready to be devoured by the ghost.

Despite his wife reassuring him, he did not budge. He was immobilized by panic of the ghost appearing into their suite at any moment and then asking for new work or eating them alive. An hour passed and then two. After a couple of hours, husband had developed a faint belief that his wife could be right.

He looked outside and saw ghost busy at work. He could not make out what it was doing. From the far, it seemed the ghost was trying desperately to do something. Every time, the ghost felt it accomplished the task, it seemed frustrated that the job was undone. The scientist did not care what was going on. He felt reasonably sure that ghost was not going to be able to complete the job in anytime soon.

So, he switched back to the original plan. The couple had a lot of fun for days together. They had a memorable time. It was time for them to leave.

While enjoying marital bliss, they had totally forgotten about the ghost. Now it was like days, the ghost was busy with something. He felt immensely proud of his wife. She had managed to give some sort of humongous task to the ghost that it kept ghost busy for days.

He asked his wife - what kind of work you gave to the ghost? What kind of complex work which is more complex than the two seemingly impossible tasks I had given to the ghost before?

Wife answered - nothing very complex. But, close to impossible. I just a pulled a long strand of my curly hair and gave it the ghost and asked it to straighten it out. That's all.

That's all - the husband wondered. You say that's all. He was very impressed by her creativity. He was awed by the simplicity. The solution was so simple. But at the same time so ingenious and practical. They had to come up with an impossible challenge to keep the ghost busy. Straightening a strand of curly hair is impossible.

When they were ready to leave, the ghost was still busy with the task. It gave them a very sad look. It was in tears. It begged them relieve it from this task which it knew it would not be able to complete at all. The couple took pity on the ghost. But, before they could cancel the assignment, they had to make sure that the ghost would not eat them for not keeping it busy all the time. So, the scientist prayed for the guidance of his spiritual master. The master blessed the ghost and it was relieved of its ghost state and disappeared.

The couple lived happily ever after.

The moral of the story - sometimes even for seemingly very complex problems the solutions are very simple. We just need to think out of the box to find the simplest solution. Sometimes changing the definition of the problem helps.

Simple is better than complex. Complex is better than complicated.

There is also an excellent book titled 'The power of simplicity' by Jack Trout. Great read.

Cheers to simplicity.

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