What is Simplex Thinking?

what is simplex thinking?

What is Simplex Thinking?

Life is full of complex challenges, and our minds can sometimes struggle to tackle them head-on. But what if I told you there’s a way to break free from that mental maze? A way to simplify your thinking and approach problems with a fresh perspective? That’s where simplex thinking comes in.

What is Simplex Thinking?

Simplex thinking is all about taking complex problems and breaking them down into simpler, more manageable pieces. It’s like untangling a big, messy knot by carefully separating the individual threads one by one.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of a challenge, simplex thinking encourages us to take a step back and look at the smaller components that make up the whole. By doing this, we can tackle each piece individually, without getting bogged down by the complexity of the entire problem.

The Benefits of Simplex Thinking

Now, you might be wondering, “Why bother with all this simplex thinking stuff? Can’t I just power through and figure it out?” Well, sure, you could try that approach. But simplex thinking offers some pretty awesome benefits:

  1. Clarity: By breaking things down, you’ll gain a clearer understanding of the problem and its individual parts. This clarity can help you make better decisions and find more effective solutions.
  2. Focus: Instead of feeling scattered and overwhelmed, simplex thinking allows you to concentrate on one aspect at a time. This focused approach can boost your productivity and help you stay on track.
  3. Flexibility: When you break down a problem into smaller pieces, it becomes easier to adapt and adjust as needed. You can rearrange, modify, or even remove certain components without disrupting the entire process.
  4. Confidence: Tackling smaller, more manageable tasks can give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your confidence. This, in turn, can motivate you to keep pushing forward and conquer even bigger challenges.

The Three Principles of Simplex Thinking

So, how do you put simplex thinking into action? Well, it all boils down to three simple principles:

Principle 1: Break It Down

The first step in simplex thinking is to break down the problem into its smallest, most basic components. This process is a bit like taking apart a puzzle and sorting the pieces by color, shape, or size.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to plan a birthday party for your best friend. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the entire event, you could break it down into smaller tasks like:

  • Making a guest list
  • Choosing a venue
  • Deciding on a theme
  • Planning the menu
  • Sending out invitations

By breaking it down like this, you can focus on one task at a time, without getting bogged down by the complexity of the entire party.

Principle 2: Connect the Dots

Once you’ve broken down the problem into smaller pieces, it’s time to start connecting the dots. This means looking for relationships, patterns, and dependencies between the different components.

Going back to our birthday party example, you might realize that the guest list will impact the venue size you need, which will then influence the theme and menu options. By understanding these connections, you can plan more effectively and avoid potential conflicts or issues down the line.

Principle 3: Start Small

The final principle of simplex thinking is to start small. Don’t try to tackle everything at once; instead, focus on one or two components at a time, and build from there.

For our birthday party, you might start by creating the guest list and choosing a venue. Once those foundational pieces are in place, you can move on to the next tasks, like selecting a theme and planning the menu.

By starting small and building momentum, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and make steady progress toward your goal.

Putting Simplex Thinking into Practice

Now that you understand the principles of simplex thinking, let’s explore how you can put them into practice in your daily life:

  1. Identify the Problem: Before you can start breaking things down, you need to clearly define the problem you’re trying to solve. Take some time to reflect and get a solid understanding of the challenge at hand.
  2. Break It Down: Once you’ve identified the problem, start breaking it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Use tools like mind maps, lists, or diagrams to help you visualize and organize the components.
  3. Prioritize and Plan: After breaking down the problem, take a look at the individual components and prioritize them based on importance or urgency. Then, create a plan of action, outlining the steps you’ll take to tackle each piece.
  4. Execute and Adapt: With your plan in place, start executing it one step at a time. As you work through the components, be prepared to adapt and adjust your approach as needed. Simplex thinking is all about flexibility and adaptability.
  5. Celebrate Small Wins: As you complete each component, take a moment to celebrate your progress. These small wins will help keep you motivated and focused on the bigger goal.

Overcoming Obstacles to Simplex Thinking

While simplex thinking can be a powerful problem-solving tool, it’s not always easy to put into practice. Here are some common obstacles you might encounter, and tips for overcoming them:

  1. Complexity Paralysis: Sometimes, the sheer complexity of a problem can feel overwhelming, making it difficult to even start breaking it down. In these cases, try to take a step back and remind yourself of the benefits of simplex thinking. Break the problem down into the smallest possible pieces, and tackle them one at a time.
  2. Impatience: Simplex thinking requires patience and perseverance. It’s easy to get frustrated and want to rush through the process. But by taking your time and following the principles, you’ll increase your chances of finding a successful solution.
  3. Fear of Oversimplification: Some people worry that breaking things down too much will oversimplify the problem and lead to incomplete or ineffective solutions. However, simplex thinking is about finding the right balance between simplicity and complexity. By connecting the dots and considering the relationships between components, you can avoid oversimplification.
  4. Resistance to Change: Simplex thinking often requires us to change our approach and adopt new ways of thinking. This can be uncomfortable, especially if we’re used to tackling problems head-on. Embrace the discomfort and keep an open mind; simplex thinking may surprise you with its effectiveness.


Simplex thinking is a powerful problem-solving approach that involves breaking down complex challenges into smaller, more manageable components.

By following the three principles of breaking it down, connecting the dots, and starting small, you can gain clarity, focus, flexibility, and confidence in tackling even the toughest problems. While it may require patience and an open mindset, mastering simplex thinking can be a game-changer in your personal and professional life.


Q: Is simplex thinking useful for all types of problems?

A: Simplex thinking can be applied to a wide range of problems, from personal challenges to complex business scenarios. However, it may not be the best approach for problems that require immediate action or have strict time constraints.

Q: Can simplex thinking be used in team settings?

A: Absolutely! Simplex thinking can be a powerful tool for collaborative problem-solving. By breaking down the problem and assigning different components to team members, you can leverage everyone’s strengths and expertise.

Q: What if I get stuck while trying to break down a problem?

A: If you find yourself struggling to break down a problem, try stepping away and coming back with a fresh perspective. You could also seek input from others who might have a different viewpoint or expertise in the area.

Q: How can I ensure I don’t oversimplify a problem?

A: While simplex thinking encourages breaking things down, it’s important not to oversimplify to the point of losing critical details or context. Remember to connect the dots and consider the relationships between components to maintain a holistic view of the problem.

Q: Is simplex thinking only useful for problem-solving, or can it be applied to other areas of life?

A: Simplex thinking is a versatile approach that can be applied to various aspects of life, such as goal-setting, decision-making, and personal growth.

What is Simplex Thinking – Quiz

  1. What is the first principle of simplex thinking? a) Start small b) Break it down c) Connect the dots d) Prioritize tasks

The correct answer is b) Break it down. Breaking a complex problem into smaller components is the crucial first step.

  1. Which of these is NOT a benefit of simplex thinking? a) Increased clarity b) Improved focus
    c) Greater flexibility d) Faster results

The correct answer is d) Faster results. While simplex thinking offers many benefits, it is a methodical process that takes time, not a shortcut to fast solutions.

  1. True or False: Simplex thinking means oversimplifying problems. a) True b) False

The correct answer is b) False. Simplex thinking involves breaking down while still connecting components to avoid oversimplification.

  1. In what order should you apply the simplex thinking principles? a) Connect dots, break down, start small b) Break down, connect dots, start small c) Start small, break down, connect dots d) Connect dots, start small, break down

The correct answer is b) Break down, connect dots, start small. Following this order allows full deconstruction before integration.

  1. When might simplex thinking NOT be the best approach? a) For personal goal-setting b) For team projects c) For problems requiring immediate action d) For strategic business planning

The correct answer is c) For problems requiring immediate action. Simplex thinking’s methodical nature makes it ill-suited for split-second decisions.


5 correct: Mastered simplex thinking! You’re a breaking down, connecting, small-stepping pro. 3-4 correct: Well on your way to simplex thinking mastery. Keep practicing!
0-2 correct: The principles of simplex thinking still need some work. Review the content and try again.

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