In this complex world we live in, we sometimes ignore the obvious. Today’s technology tools enable us to test and analyze just about anything.

While these tools have led to innovation and life-saving discoveries, I have begun to wonder if the complexity of our society is also leading us to miss the simple answers. Are we missing the obvious along the way to finding a solution?

The following experience happened a while back, and I often use it to remind myself to pause and look first for a simple answer, even when it may not seem obvious.

My internet service was continually cutting out. It would go down for a few minutes, sometimes an hour or so, and would always come back on its own. This situation continued for months. I called for service many times, and each time, the provider sent a new technician to search for the source of the problem and fix it. They replaced modems, replaced wires, and genuinely tried to fix it. 

I became convinced the problem must be with the wiring in the building, so I hired an independent company who came out and checked the internal wiring. Every expert, and there were many, said it should be working. But it wasn’t. 

Finally, I called a technician whose name I had kept because he had been particularly helpful in the past. I told him the whole story, and he sent his supervisor out. The supervisor asked a few questions, listened to my story, and solved the problem in 5 minutes. 

How did he do it?

The answer sounds like one of those brain teasers. Actually, I guess it was. What he did was simple. He asked a few questions, listened to my answers, and since everyone else had looked for a complex problem, he began by looking for a simple one. It turned out he was on the right path. There was a loose wire where the system attached to the building. He tightened the wire, and I have not had a problem since!

My takeaway from this…

When something isn’t working, pause. Then ask questions, listen carefully to the answers, and begin by looking for a simple rather than a complex cause and solution.

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