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  • Purnima Thakre

Get Unstuck When Complexity Strikes

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Although refine+focus is seasoned at building strategy, creating diversity, and strengthening brand positioning, the events of the past few months have caused us to reflect on our methods, values, and culture in new ways. Here are a few of the processes we’ve turned to and how we applied them when making decisions about communicating our approach to the pandemic and Black Lives Matter.

Step 1: Identify simultaneous complexity and simplicity

When you encounter complexity in decision making, clarify why it’s complicated. By identifying the complexity, rather than feeling overwhelmed by its abstractions, it’s easier to manage. Once you’ve discovered the factors that create complexity, rank them. Spend the most time reflecting on the highest ranked elements of complexity.

If you’re getting lost in the complexities, start by identifying all the stakeholders and opinions you are trying to juggle. This online interactive tool will help you plot out the stakeholders and their importance.


Spend equal time reflecting on simplicity as you do pondering complexity. Ask yourself – in what ways is this challenge simple? Just asking the question may bring some clarity. For us responding to Black Lives Matter, this question led us to our core value of compassion. 

Check out this great article on the complexity bias to understand our human tendency to over complicate things, plus, get tips on how to return to simplicity.


Step 2: Determine what is needed to create clarity

How do you move forward when you’re stuck? One way is to ask this question: If we only knew X, we would have clarity, so, what’s X? Solving for X, or what’s standing in the way of clarity, is a fast way to get there. Try it!Check out this Forbes’ article from a clarity strategist that’s packed with thought exercises to help you achieve clarity.


Step 3: Define a Position

It’s nearly impossible to be timely, authentic, and helpful if you don’t know where you stand. We’ve seen it in ourselves and our clients – the clearer you know where you stand and what you stand for, the easier it is to create compelling human content. At refine+focus, once we decided that our core value of compassion would guide us through these complicated times, things became clearer. Ultimately, we chose to celebrate brilliant black voices to help our audience gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of present times.

Check out this article on companies that embraced their positions and reaped the rewards for it.


It’s okay to be stuck for a time, especially if you’re learning while you’re stuck. But when you’re merely spinning your tires, that’s when we invite you to try the three exercises we’ve shared.

Ask yourself: What makes this decision simple and complex? What’s needed to solve this problem? What’s my true position on this topic? Don’t expect great writing until you have this clarity.

Still stuck? Let’s get on Zoom and try it together. Send us an email at

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