|The Chocolate Chip Cookie Principle|
|By Joe Bouchard|
Sometimes, complexity is necessary. But too often we become bogged down in details, forsaking simplicity over and ornately conceived plan.
This is well known in many circles as K.I.S.S. or “Keep it simple, stupid”. I'm not sure who conceived this notion, but it makes plenty of sense to me. Essentially, the fewer moving parts there are, the less likely something is to break down.
Quite in the manner of standing on the shoulder of the giant, I looked at the idea of K.I.S.S. this concept makes me think back to something that gave me a similar thought. This is the chocolate chip cookie principle.
Years ago, I attended a holiday party. In this snack area on one plate was a selection of cookies. They were in various colors, many interesting shapes, and a surprising amount of flavors. It was clearly a labor-intensive endeavor. The baker had clearly performed a labor of love. The plate was very beautiful to behold. In addition, the plate was of ornate glass with an expensive doily between it and the cookies.
Right next to it was a common plate mounded with chocolate chip cookies. This mainstay of the cookie world was more or less heaped upon the serving tray. Talk about a stark contrast in fare and presentation!
At the start of the party, given thought, one would likely conclude that the ornate tray of cookies would first be depleted. After all, those were unique and festive. The chocolate chip cookies, on the other hand, were commonplace.
Contrary to what I thought, the plate with the chocolate chip cookies was ravenously attacked. On the other hand, or, more specifically, on the other plate, the fancy cookies remained largely untouched. I wondered if it was a bit of foresight on the part of the chocolate chip cookie baker. I pondered the possibility that the ornate cookie baker may have felt that the many efforts were for naught. One could respect the work, dedication, and attention to detail that the latter engaged in, but still feel bad for that person.
Perhaps there's something about the familiarity of the chocolate chip cookies that drove most people to eagerly accept. Maybe, in a strange way, there was an intimidation factor with the fancy cookies. Though they were beautiful, unique, and had an artful complexity, the simplicity of the rival chocolate chip cookies beckoned most of the people in attendance.
In that respect, plans on the cookies. Those who craft them want them to be consumed and enjoyed and have useful success. They do not want to have their creation ignored because is too complex or too daunting. In most cases, simplicity outranks complexity.
Of course, every problem requires a slightly different fix. There is no uniform panacea for the questions and concerns facing corrections. There is place for complexity and a place for simplicity. The point is that things need not be more complicated than they should be.
It all comes back to keeping it simple.
Again, I understand that complexity is sometimes necessary. We would never have, for example, landed on the moon without venturing into the realm of the complex. Still early in the space race, the development of antigravity pens was a notable role. How does one get ink to flow in zero gravity? One solution was simple. Instead of a pen, a pencil could be used instead. An intricate plan has its place. But In many day-to-day decisions, it behooves us to consider the chocolate chip cookie principle.
Editor's note: Corrections.com author, Joe Bouchard, has been with the Michigan Department of Corrections since 1993 as a Librarian for the Baraga Correctional Facility. He also teaches criminal justice and corrections classes for Gogebic Community College. He is the editor of The Correctional Trainer, the official journal of the International Association of Corrections Training Personnel and MCA Today, the official journal of the Michigan Corrections Association.
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