complexity is hidden in plain sight

We’ve all had that moment: “Oh, this is so simple, why don’t you do it right away?”
It could’ve been a product, it could’ve been an action and so on.
We got that impression that something is easy to do.

Working lately on products I can’t stop thinking at how magical complexity really is.
Let’s move away from products for a second to make a point: Think about the act of drinking a glass of water.

For many of us it doesn’t require much thinking. If we have the glass ready in front of us it’s a matter of taking it and drinking.

My soon-to-be 2 years old instead watches the glass as a skill to master. She uses two hands to grab the glass and slowly moves it toward the mouth. Then she tries to drink but managing the flow of the water, the drops that fall, etc, results -often- in a mess.

Which, btw, is amazing and beautiful.

You might say “yeah, but this is an action. When we’re talking about products and so on some things are simply easy”.
Which can be obviously true, but we take for granted so many things we see.

Like a door.
If you played videogames you surely encountered a door in the game which is… a door. Like the real doors.
A door is something simple. It can either be open or closed and can be opened/closed.
That’s it right? So simple.

Which leads me to this video about doors in videogame that I recently saw. It sparked some fresh thinking into what complexity is.

Because a door has an enormous amount of details to get right into a videogame and the result is the mix of many small choices and decisions.
It is the result of many questions to get into the details of how things works, how it should open, at what speed, where the camera should be and behave, how the player would move while opening and passing to the door, if the door can be opened partly and so on. (which, btw are somewhat linked to my “making good questions” article because that’s how you get deeper into a topic.)

As you see even a door can be complex yet simple in plain sight. It’s a door afterall.
In any product (good or bad) there’s so much complexity hidden that we don’t see, so many outcomes from each decisions that have been taken into consideration before releasing.

Which is these days I rarely have a definite answer for some questions.
Because I know that whenever I get a question like “It should be easy, you simply need to do it like that”, I know I might discover some hidden complexity.

That’s why it’s magical, because it’s hidden and we often forget about it, yet it’s something we should be constantly aware of.
We rarely get something “easy without tradeoffs”.

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