Archive for January, 2009
One of the deepest potential conflicts in every society is the conflict between the roles we have as workers versus consumers. As a consumer, we want the best product or service at the lowest cost, and, if we have unique needs, we want those unique needs addressed at no additional cost. We want the worker who is serving us to go the extra mile, and we only want to pay top dollar for exceptional service.
The worker role can be made consistent with our consumer role with exceptional management by those who lead the workers providing us with the products and services, whether those leaders are managers or, in the case of a unionized work force, union leaders. Too often, however, the path of least resistance for a product or service provider is to design or allow the design of their processes for the convenience of the worker at the expense of the consumer.
In two contexts, I have seen the complexity of changing information technology systems and organizational processes. I focus on this issue because many business and government reforms, such as health care reform, require both IT and process change.
I saw a great deal of complexity and inflexibility built into the college application process, particularly the Common Application. Some complexity and inflexibility, particularly word and character limits for essays, reduce the number of pages overwhelmed admissions departments need to read, and help the reviewer determine whether applicants can write concisely. It was a great experience for my son to have to prioritize his messages to fit within these limits.
Less defensible are applications that eliminate the applicant’s ability to enter specific data relative to activities, awards, and work experiences. Some applications have menus from which the applicant can choose, but do not allow additional entries. This kind of design decision, while it makes processing easier, makes it harder for applicants to include unconventional and more diverse life experiences. (more…)