Simplicity by Edward de Bono : A review

SimplicitySimplicity by Edward de Bono
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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A book that lived up to its name. It was simple and effective. There were about 10 ‘rules’ of simplicity outlined throughout the book. Combined with ample examples it was a stupendous effort to explain the concept of ‘Simplifying’ (or in de Bono’s words, ‘simping’ – a simpler word for simplifying).

Edward de Bono made me wonder if the existing systems were based on clueless designs and if there was any thought put into them.

It can’t be, right?

There must have been experts on the subjects who would have deliberated on the solution for days before drawing to a conclusion. But some of his out-of-the-box thinking makes much more sense in theory and is wonderfully simpler than existing practices.

In the first half of the book he touches upon the importance of simplicity and why it should be upheld as a ‘value’. He calls simplicity as focused attention. He urges to think of simplifying a process for simplicity’s sake.

There is a chapter dedicated to people who love complexity ( guilty !! ) People who love complexity have the compulsive need to think that it is complexity that makes things valuable. But Simplicity and Complexity are not always opposing forces. Sometimes processes need to move from simple to complex and back to simple in order to evolve.

“The easiest way to be superior is to pretend to understand what others cannot understand. For that you need complexity.”

“Richness is intended to be its own value, just as a rich sauce is intended to be a rich sauce. Complexity, as such, is not intended to be its own values. Complexity is a complex way of doing something where the value lies in what is being done, not in the way of doing it. Complexity is the absence of simplicity.”


In the later parts of the books he gives us some operations to achieve simplicity. There are nearly 12 methods that one can adopt. Not every method is unique. There are overlaps and this makes it easy to mix and match the approaches.

Towards the end, Edward de Bono calls out to readers for The Edward de Bono National Simplicity Campaign. I am unsure about the authenticity of this campaign that promises rewards to contributors.

Although he claims that his concept is applicable in general, all his cases seem to revolve around examples set in supermarkets, production chains, and ticketing systems. There is little to no mention of how to apply simplicity techniques for self. De Bono’s examples are apt, but some of the scientific tests mentioned in the books are not given in detail. There is no index of said tests either. Now this is surely going to make it tedious for me to research on those tests.

I would love to quote almost the entire book. Every point in it was brilliant and had some absolute truths in it. The best portion is the TLDR version of the book especially designed for the lazy (read extremely creative). A book to be read with an open-mind and willingness to change.

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