I stumbled upon this Steve Jobs quote a while back and it really got me thinking about ‘simplicity’. It's one of those terms that people use profusely, yet rarely pause to reflect upon. The quote lead me to do a bit of thinking of my own.
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – BusinessWeek, 1998
I particularly enjoy how Jobs's statement highlights that simplicity is actually quite hard to achieve. The American Oxford dictionary defines simplicity as: "the quality or function of being easy to understand or do". Merging this definition with Jobs' quote leads to an interesting piece of insight. By saying that something is easy to understand, one is derivatively implying that somebody else has done the understanding for us. In other words, it's been pre-chewed. Seen through this lens, simplicity might really just be highly optimized complexity. As Jobs later put it: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.