While technology seems to develop at warp factor speed, us, the users, are still the same basic model that has taken millions of years to evolve. Talk about a legacy system.
As a result, we have computing platforms and communications tools that are infinitely complex, while we ourselves are governed by much simpler primitive instincts.
It’s a mismatch that we should probably pay more attention to when designing new systems for the new types of enterprises that are being created.
While human thought processes, emotions and learning systems – not to mention the capacity the ability to reproduce – are still light years ahead of even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence system, we do have one drawback. We are still governed by primitive instincts that first started to look outdated when we discovered the wheel and fire.
Those instincts can be a limitation, but they cannot be changed.
Take systems failures. When there is a post mortem on an installation that didn’t take off, the reason why a business process failed to work is often rooted in human instinct. The designers used rational machine logic, when the user’s instincts tell us to do something else. Videoconferences haven’t entirely replaced the face-to-face meeting, because for some people their instincts tell them not to trust someone they haven’t met.
For example, we often award our business to companies because of our gut feelings about the person we will be dealing with. People still want to buy from people. The pure financial logic of the numbers on offer is often over-ruled by an ancient voice in one’s head that warns us of some hidden danger.
Similarly, human instinct shapes us to obey the role of three. Presentations have more impact when they make three points. Speeches should be structured around a beginning, middle and an end. Professional speechmakers say an address has most resonance with an audience when it’s divided thus: 1. Tell them what you’re going to say. 2. Say it. 3. Tell them what you just said.
So, humans can only take in small pieces of information and they need incredibly simple business systems.
Developers often create IT systems that would be great if the end user was not a human. There must be a reason why the simplest systems (email, SMS, Twitter) always seem to have the most resonance with the public.
Often, it’s the stuff you leave out that makes a system brilliant – brilliant in its simplicity.