Stop Thwarting Us with Complexity or We Revolt

The long arc of product and process development always bends toward global standardization and interoperability, otherwise we consumers would revolt.

Our systems are simply too complex and interconnected to put up with the complications of too much variability. Even the behemoths of Apple and Microsoft eventually find they have to yield a bit in their efforts to lock us into their stand-alone systems.

Consumers want a plug-and-play world with simple operating instructions.  They expect developers to respect their learning curve and build up from their prior knowledge and existing investments.

Why this curious reflection today? I am writing about the future of technology implementation, systems thinking and standards development in healthcare technology. These are life critical systems and too much complexity and too little interoperability can harm or kill people. Plus our US healthcare system can’t afford to throw lots of people and time at solving these challenges.

Last month I was writing about keeping a global workforce healthy and safe. I noted how challenging it is for companies and organizations to function until we have something like a universal standard of care.  Personally I am never pleased to learn that any product I’ve purchased harmed the people producing it.  

And then I connected these big picture insights to my attempt to make a simple purchase this weekend—a child seat for biking that will mount on three bike racks already in my family. We don’t need three seats and three new racks to accommodate occasional rides with the little ones. After purchasing one of the top-selling seats we discovered we either had to mount the seat using the company’s exclusive rack or forget it. So we will forget that brand and send it back to the store. Our search for a seat with a universal mounting system continues.

Companies have to pay more attention to the systems in which their products and services need to function. They should employ systems thinkers who understand human-centered design and how we really want to live.

If not, we revolt. We want solutions, not more complexity.