Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web
- How To Make Complex Things Simple | Paul Taylor
Most of the problems we were set up to solve were relatively simple, but as organisations get larger, there’s more technology, more people, and more regulation. We put together processes, controls, reviews, and structures to deal with all these things. All of these factors together create a great amount of complexity.
Convenience cannot itself become a flag of convenience. The impetus to trade control and privacy for security is understandable but has appalling consequences.
Many years ago I spoke about the need to “design for loss of control”. Now I think more and more about “designing to protect the control rights of individuals”.
Digital leaders aren’t here to fix IT.
When a board hires a ‘digital leader’, they’re not saying: we want a new IT department. Well, they might think they want a new IT department. But not deep down. Deep down, they’re really saying: We want someone to come and ask really hard questions. Foment change. Breed excitement and instability. (OK, they also want to ask why is their IT so pants.)
In an ideal world everyone who works in public service should have a service design mentality, and should be able to access, understand and confidently use service design tools.
I don’t think this should be a specialism, I think it should be a defining characteristic of the public sector.
Dark Value may be a useful way of describing some intangible sorts of value that don’t easily sit even within a social value framework. We all intuit that the 15 minute visits by home care workers are functionally “on spec” but miss so much in terms of human interaction (with potentially adverse impacts for the individual and prosaically for public finances too, as they need earlier admission to more expensive levels of care). I wonder whether there is “dark value” when people interact across public services, the value coming from an unstated belief in a shared value system, that is perceived as missing (sometimes unjustifiably) from interactions with private sector suppliers?
If we’re serious about delivering better services (I believe we are), we should accept that processes and technology need designing too. They shouldn’t become constraints to the design process.
Prototyping and gaining feedback from users is quick and cheap. But replacing legacy technology and processes takes longer. Often it will require significant investment.
There’s a danger in selecting only the design that most easily fits with these constraints. We might miss the opportunity to prove in beta the service that best meets our users’ needs.
In a pre-digital era, organisations appeared to be made of smooth, reporting lines, opaque meeting agendas and crisp minutes. Now the wrinkles and pits of communication and interaction are exposed in detail for all to see – every email, every message, every line of code.
Digital communications facilitate, magnify and expose people’s timeless habits of co-operation. These social phenomena are not new. It’s just that, until recently, indicators of productive informality were hidden from view. In the absence of evidence, we focused more attention, and founded our theories of management, on things that were immediately obvious: explicit hierarchies and formal plans.
Great little film with insight for the flow of patients through the healthcare system.
Having Facebook on your phone doesn’t mean you can automatically job search, by yourself, confidently, every day of every week. We need to change how we diagnose those skills needs – and wider needs – and what checks and milestones we can put in place to track someone’s progress.
Because they don’t have all the information, context, and nuance (and yet are expected to make most of the decisions), many leaders grow increasingly hungry for a better picture of reality. They simultaneously wish they could go broad and deep — across the organization and down into the ranks — to see what’s happening and fine tune their mental model. This search for the truth leads them to ask for and accept a broad range of meetings, reviews, and interactions. And so at last we return to the first step of this vicious cycle, where we find our leaders too busy for their own good.
great design doesn’t live inside designers. It lives inside your users’ heads. You get inside your users heads by doing good user research: research that provides actionable and testable insights into users’ needs.
Great design is a symptom. It’s a symptom of a culture that values user centred design.
And bad design is a symptom too. It’s a symptom of an organisation that can’t distinguish good user research from bad user research.
If you’re Kodak, and your capital allocation process aggressively favors film (or any incumbent technology), that’s debt. If you require customers to fax or mail you written instructions to make changes to their account in 2016, that’s debt. If you can’t give a reasonable customer the thing they want because “our policy says,” that’s debt. These policies may have had the best intentions, but circumstances have changed. The true cost of not having the requisite structure and governance for the context you’re operating in may be hard to quantify, but it is real, and it is growing all the time.