Chipping Away the Marble that Doesn’t Look Like Adventure

The topic of complexity came up a lot during my last few weeks of work. I shared my opinions on why things took longer than they should and how they could be streamlined. The solution, as I saw it, was to remove complexity, to subtract, to chip away everything from the block of marble that doesn’t look like efficiency.

People listened, but it’s a tough message to sell. This article explained why: adding is favored over subtracting in problem solving. It’s spot-on. Every suggestion I made to subtract was countered with an alternative to add. Add a layer of governance, of oversight. Add an advisory board or another customer panel. Create a team within the team within the team. Nobody wanted to subtract.

In that article, people are shown a Lego structure and asked to increase its stability. You can solve the problem by removing one piece or adding an infinite number of extra pieces. Everybody adds extra pieces.

Sculpting the David is easy — you just get a big block of marble and chip away everything that’s not David.

This website has all sorts of extra pieces to chip away. I’ve been removing them. Feedburner is getting out of the email subscription game, so I looked at adding complexity with Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. I could export everybody out of Feedburner and import them into a new tool. But instead of adding, we will subtract. WordPress has simple emailing built in. We’ll use that. You can re-subscribe using the form on the right.

Then there’s tracking. WordPress has tracking built in, but I’ve used Google Analytics for years. But the amount of data collected online is getting creepy. So no more Google Analytics. No more ads either. Google is moving away from cookies and using other more convoluted techniques to track web activity. We’re just going to not track. I suggest you use an ad blocker TBH.

We have old themes and un-used plugins cluttering up things behind the scenes. They’ve been deleted.

We applied the same thinking to our choice of vehicle. We considered buying a used EarthRoamer — the most complex and costly solution with a cab pass-through and (eye-roll) granite counters and a huge refrigerator. And we looked at Sprinter vans like the Winnebago Revel. But did we really need a bed on an electric lift? Did we really even need a toilet? We also looked at flatbed campers from Four Wheel Campers. They’re amazing and offer great storage and a side door, but you need to remove your truck bed and install a flat aftermarket one — you need to add complexity. They’re also heavy. You need a serous truck to support one. What could we remove?

So we chipped away the cab pass-through that the EarthRoamer offered and the granite counters and big refrigerator. We chipped away the bed lift and bathroom in the Revel. We chipped away the extra storage and side door of the Four Wheel Camper flatbed. I fought the urge to add off-road modifications that we’d likely not use. We are, after all, driving our dwelling down the road. We’re not going to go rock-crawling.

After chipping all of that away, we arrived at the vehicle we have — a lightweight camper on a small truck. Now our website follows the same philosophy as well.

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