My mouth still water swhen I think about the delicious dishes she served me and my friends in our student days. Unfortunately, in my case, the gift of turning ingredients into a dish doesn't seem to be genetically transferable. Recently, I tried to treat my hard-working lady and our lovely daughters to scampi in a tomato cream sauce.The result can best be described as dry shrimp on a bed of Royco minute soup. We are still looking for my homemade pasta. I think it ran away from this miserable concoction. So I better leave the culinary experimentation to others and limit myself to the cooking basics. I'm apparently not alone in that.                  

Do you know Gordon Ramsey? This former footballer reinvented himself as a successful chef.He was the first Scottish chef to achieve 3 Michelin stars and he opened several top restaurants worldwide. His real fame, however, came from the"Kitchen Nightmares" programme in which he tried to breathe new life into moribund restaurants. Now, his way of giving feedback is odd to say the least. Frequently the participants burst into tears as the last remnants of their self-esteem disappear down the drain of their doomed establishment. What does work, though, is Ramsey's recurring advice to reduce the menu to the essentials. A simple menu, a limited choice of excellent dishes and fair prices are the road to a successful business for most restaurants. Neither kitchen management nor the customer benefits from too much complexity. This may seem obvious but it still appears to be quite a challenge to convince the participants of this. People often tend to make things unnecessarily complex. Sometimes they do this out of the misplaced belief that it will demonstrate their expertise. Often posing complex actions diverts attention from the real problems.

©Kitchen Nightmares

Making reality unnecessarily complex brings us to the phenomenon of complexity bias. Itis the fallacy that leads us to attach too much importance to complex concepts.One of the reasons for this is that we, as humans, don’t like to deal with the unpredictable, the irregular. In other words, with chaos. We prefer to cherisht he idea that there is still something of structure or order in what happens to us, even if it is incomprehensibly complex. Conspiracy theories are the prime example of this. Rather than accept that disasters sometimes happen due to chance, supporters of these theories choose to believe in complex explanations. Illuminati dressed in robes, chemtrails or sects under the control of politicians provide at least some guidance for some people. The unenviable alternative - chaos - does not provide that rationale. The danger, of course, is that by choosing complexity we lose sight of what is going on and especially what we can do ourselves. After all, blindly following complex management or political stories often leads to paralysis or dropping out. But we can already work with critical thinking and acting in chaotic times.

The first step is to challenge our thinking rather than falling into the search for complex explanations. That is a skill that project managers must draw on. Imagine for the first time you are confronted with the leadership of a very important project. Then first ask yourself what you want to avoid. Delaying will certainly be one of the things that will be on the list. The second point is for you to critically list the causes as, what you want to avoid, in this case a delay, may still happen. Use as much substantiated data as possible so that you can rank the most common causes highest. In the case of project delays, one of those causes could be the lack of a feedback culture rather than the lack of a reporting system. Finally, ask yourself the third and last question:"how can I tackle the most likely cause?" Here too you can look for substantiated best practices. In the example of a feedback culture you can, forexample, choose to install frequent 'check in conversations' between the project members.

A second step is to challenge the system with which we must face the chaos. Systems such a sorganizations often continue to make adjustments to things that do not work anyway and thus unconsciously contribute to the creation of more complexity. Dare to change rather than constantly adapt. Look for simplicity rather than looking for complexity. Therefore, ask yourself whether the organizational structure (1), the products and / or services (2), the processes (3) and the collaboration (4) cannot be simplified.

Mind you, making it simpler is often more difficult than it seems. Bill Bufford, author of 'Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training', puts it like this: 'In normal life 'simplicity’ is synonymous with ’easy to do', but if a chef uses the word it means 'takes a lifetime to learn'. And so we are back to cooking and I’ll quickly say goodbye, the casserole is in the oven.

More Streetfood for Thought?