Here’s Why Occam’s Razor is an Important Leadership Concept

I have seen many entrepreneurs struggle to make the right decision when they debate the pros and cons of an important choice. Most of us tend to add more details, seek more facts, and deliberate longer to postpone the decision. If we keep Occam’s razor meaning in business in mind, we can overcome decision paralysis like this when it strikes.

Two road signs show one way is simple and the other way is complicated

Occam’s Razor Definition

Everybody has heard the term “keep it simple,” but there is some science behind it, according to the principle of Occam’s razor. The theory is named for William of Ockham, a philosopher who lived in the 14th century, although the concept dates back much further.

Occam’s razor is the law of parsimony: the idea that the best explanation is the one that requires the fewest number of assumptions. It’s a complex theory, but Occam’s razor essentially states that the answer with the least variable is preferable, with all else equal.

Think of it this way: if you feel pressure in your sinuses, you may have some rare disease that science has yet to discover. But it’s also possible that you are just getting a cold. It’s better to assume the more straightforward answer is correct before jumping to wild conclusions.

Of course, there are many exceptions. Occam’s razor is more of a consideration than a rule, but it can help straighten out our decision-making process if we apply it to our business.

Occam’s Razor Meaning in Business

Many business leaders tend to make things simple in the quest for the perfect solution. Still, the meaning of Occam’s razor in business suggests that the simplest answer is usually correct.

We tend to assume the opposite—that a more complex answer is more intelligent and, therefore, must be better. The obvious answer seems too easy, and we think there must be a catch. We add steps and spend more time than necessary weighing the pros and cons of various approaches.

This is an example of complexity bias, but an idea must not be complex to be good. Complexity can introduce confusion and opportunity for error. If you audit your current processes, you can find several areas where added complexity slows you down.

I don’t think you should cut short the decision-making process in favor of easy answers. Quality outcomes only happen when you consider essential facts. But when you are wavering between alternatives, look for simplicity in concept and execution—especially in execution.

So many spectacular plans are stillborn because they are too hard to implement and manage. The best plan will come to fruition; the plainer your strategy, the easier it is to achieve.

Has this definition of Occam’s razor made you rethink your decision-making process? As a business coach, I’ve written countless articles about decision-making, leadership, and more. Click here to sign up for my email list to have weekly articles about business concepts delivered straight to you.

Coach Dave

Dave Schoenbeck
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