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  • Kanav Khurana

Boiling things down

Updated: Sep 2

I heard an interesting podcast the other day, where Kunal Shah talks about boiling things down. He said something along the lines of, “Smart people like nuances, they like believing that they are working on complicated solutions, but the truth is simpler”. This was a relatable truth. I have been guilty of complicating situations in the past, where the actual workings were simpler.


In the technology consulting world, typical engagements follow the Discover, Design, Deliver structure.

A simplifying strategy during the Discovery/Design phase is asking, “What is it for?”. What is the end goal of the thing you’re looking at or the problem you’re trying to solve?

Let's take a sample conversation between a client and a consultant:

Client: "I need a shovel."

Consultant: What is it for?"

Client: "I would like to dig a hole in the ground"

The end goal is to dig a hole. In essence, the customer doesn’t really care how that hole is dug.


A simplifying strategy after the Delivery phase - i.e - when a set of systems/processes have already been established is the "5 Whys" technique. This helps to arrive at possible solutions to an existing problem.

Let's take another example borrowed from here.

Client Problem: Our client is refusing to pay for leaflets we printed for him

  • (1) Why?

  • The delivery was late, so the leaflets couldn’t be used

  • (2) Why?

  • The job took longer than expected

  • (3) Why?

  • We ran out of printer ink

  • (4) Why?

  • The ink was all used on a large, last-minute order

  • (5) Why?

  • We didn’t have enough ink in stock, and couldn’t order new supplies in time

Possible solution: Find an ink supplier who can deliver at short notice, so that we can continue to minimize inventory, reduce waste, and respond to customer demand.


Question to reader:

Are there any other simplifying strategies you’d like to share?


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