Overcomplicating Things


When working on complicated projects a new idea might be quickly labelled over-complicated.

This does not mean that the new idea is more complicated than any of the other ideas under consideration.

Possible reasons for dismissing the idea as complicated might include:

  • The new idea is not deemed sufficiently useful to warrant being complicated

  • Other complicated ideas are not being recognised as similarly complicated

  • An awareness of existing complicated ideas creates resistance to additional complications

  • The new idea is so unfamiliar that it is assumed to be complicated

That one idea can be "over-complicated" acknowledges implicitly that there are other ideas that are "the right amount of complicated". The current working solution is often tacitly assumed to be complicated to the right extent when there could well be alternatives that are far more simple.

It can be helpful to ask why one idea has been deemed too complicated and not another. This might reveal misconceptions about a concept or its implementation. It could also foster a better understanding of the group's notion of the complicated and the uncomplicated, which is often grounded in untested intuitions.