October 2, 2021

The Time (and Complexity) Tax

Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic:

The issue is not that modern life comes with paperwork hassles. The issue is that American benefit programs are, as a whole, difficult and sometimes impossible for everyday citizens to use.

I’m running in to a related issue at work, not so much in Government but in commercial organisations. Computing has let companies have very complex policies about how they can sell services but they haven’t much considered how to get people through non-standard workflows.

There’s a tipping point after which the goodwill and effort of customer support staff stops being useful — unanticipated workflows become part of the standard workflow and throw out the assumptions baked in to the service design.


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