Lex Parsimoniae

I am currently engaged in a thread on LinkedIn that started with the headline “Simplicity?” and the question “Who has used or considered simplicity as an architectural feature of any project?”.

There have been some discussions about the meaning of the word simplicity, especially in relation to flexibility. Very interesting read, but to me they are missing the point. Someone suggested the core discussion topic is the use of Occam’s Razor, which brought us back to the first few comments of the long thread – and trigged this blog entry. I rather like how Einstein originally put it: “The supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience”. Which was later referred to as Einstein’s Razor when paraphrased as “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”.

There is a danger in overly theoreticizing everything as we then tend to draw on academically describing the enterprise in the most proper way. Somewhere along this path we loose our target groups of people; that we rely on to help us realize value from our ontologies, models and frameworks. We need a more pragmatic approach.

I believe all architectural ontologies and frameworks are focused on simplicity for the sake of clarity, if nothing else. The problem is that there is need for loads of complexity to correctly describe an enterprise. Hence most (if not all) frameworks and ontologies tend to layer the entities and provide views that are made simpler to comprehend. That which we can picture in our minds we can understand, and the more simple and elegant we can describe something – the easier it is for us to understand and use it.

There is little or no value in perfectly describing an enterprise according to any framework or ontology, if we lack the means of simplifying to a level where every involved party know and understand what is demanded of them to realize value for the enterprise.

Simplicity is definitely a tool we need to use in order to succeed.

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