December 7, 2023

The KISS Principle


            Kelly Johnson was the lead engineer at the “Lockheed Skunk Works” that created such notable spy planes as the U-2 and the SR-71. Reportedly, he gave his team the challenge to design an aircraft that could be repaired by average mechanics with only a handful of tools while in the field and under combat conditions. Johnson’s KISS Principle (keep it simple stupid) referred to the fact that, until that time, most military aircraft were so complex in structure they required a great deal of sophistication to fix. There was an urgent need to keep future designs simple. Today, the KISS principle is used in every kind of business design, while other tools like creative accounting solutions are also great for business as well.

KISS is the opposite of information overload. It involves the uncluttering of our thoughts and communication. It reduces complexity. It reminds us to “keep it short and to the point.”

The word “parsimony” is related to the word “simple.” It’s usually defined as frugality or stinginess; however, in using the term “Parsimony Principle” as one our seven guiding principles for creating a happy family, we’re referring to KISS simplicity. The simplest explanations and directions, when communicating with our children, is usually the best. It tends to emphasize “common sense” and the straightforwardness found in natural laws.

Who’s Razor?

The parsimony principle, as a philosophical tool, was further developed in the fifteenth century by an English Franciscan friar by the name of William of Ockham. He stated, “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” In other words, the simplest answer to any problem is usually the correct answer. This principle became known as “Ockham’s razor,” and was used as a rule of thumb to guide scientists in the development of theories. The razor refers to their need to shave away everything that wasn’t needed, so they could get to the least complicated explanation.

The word “simplicity” has a soothing sound to it. But rearing children, while working in a complicated and fast-paced world and living frenetic lives to stay in the game, is anything but easy. We have a challenge similar to that of Kelly Johnson and his design team. We need to create the most functionally simple plan for managing our modern families, and the models we build must not only be uncomplicated and natural, they must be portable. That is to say, we must be able to pick them up, take them with us, and apply them anywhere and at any time our children are with us—at the ballgame, Grandma’s house, in the movie theater, at the grocery store. Wherever. That’s the beauty in reducing all of the complex factors of parenting down to a few basic guiding principles. For instance, “Remember to say please and thank you.” “Don’t touch things belonging to someone else, without having permission.” “Don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you, tell lies, or be mean-spirited.”

Natural principles are intuitive and, therefore, self-evident. They’re based on common sense. They shave away the unnecessary complexities and assumptions that too often generate and sustain stress—stress that’s associated with our sense of helplessness and hopelessness and, yes, even our sense of incompetence. Chronic stress distorts our values and all that we know to be true, while wreaking havoc on our physical and spiritual selves.

We all have the ability to develop an effective plan for accomplishing our family goals. It just takes commitment and know-how, which we’re in process of learning. Our job is to take our new-found knowledge, integrate it with our personal values and unique lifestyle, and make it work for us and our family, all the while remembering that the parsimony principle will be our greatest helper. KISS!

Until next time…keep it simple; and “Claim your power and expand your dreams!” Dr. B

About Dr. B

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