In software development, over-engineering is a huge problem because it is so easy to manipulate bits and bytes compared to atoms and molecules. It is very common to fall into the trap of building more and more features to cater for scenarios and problems that might happen in the future. George Whitesides showed us with his paper-made postage-sized diagnostic tool that the solution to a problem can be simple and cheap at the same time. In order to provide healthcare to regions of the world that can't afford them, instead of lowering the cost of existing tools, he approached the problem from the opposite angle. He used the cheapest thing he can find to create those tools.
He also came up with a way to build a centrifuge to separate blood plasma with an egg-beater. Simplicity is his strategy in tackling problems. A student from MIT when asked by him, came up with a way to best describe what exactly is simplicity.
What is simplicity?
It's impossible to f*ck it up
The next time you are trying to solve a problem, try solving it from different perspectives and remember that most of the time, the simplest solution is also the best. I'll leave you with a video of George's talk at TED.