There’s definitely definitely no logic to human behaviour
There’s Definitely Definitely No Logic to Human Behaviour
Don’t forget the imperfect person when designing or buying your perfect problem-solving software
I recently mentored a group of 18-year-old aspiring entrepreneurs and we got to talking about the concept of “The Next Big Idea.” They wanted to know where they came from and how you got them.
A very good question.
My response was that ideas, and certainly the greatest ones, come from observation: your own observation of your experiences and the things around you, and your observation of others getting along in the world.
Any time you observe yourself or someone else getting frustrated, failing to complete a desired action, doing something in an inefficient or illogical manner, you have the opportunity to solve that glitch and make life better.
With a bit more observation and research, you should be able to tell if that idea is worth pursuing to perhaps a mockup or even an MVP. If enough people have that same problem and are willing to pay for a solution, you could be on to a viable business, or maybe even the Next Big Thing.
I am also a newbie design obsessive, gobbling up reads like The Design of Everyday Things and gnashing my teeth when I encounter an object or programme that makes life harder, not smarter, despite its best intentions.
So lately I find myself being wound up when there is an elegant design, say an app perfectly aligned with its purpose, and a human comes along and buggers it all up. This happens a lot when humans are stuck to a process based on “but we’ve always done it that way,” or they don’t get adequate training in the new way, or when they don’t trust technology, or…for whatever reason they wish to duplicate a perfectly good technological solution with old-school methods.
Here’s an example: One of my customers, a giant national public sector organisation, emails me a PDF of a purchase order. My accounting software automatically generates and sends invoices to my customers on the basis of that order. This organisation then requires me to print out their purchase order and my invoice and post it in the mail to them in order to get paid.
They have electronically generated their document, and I have done the same. The only reason I can think of adding this archaic and wasteful activity into the process is laziness. I can just see in my mind’s eye an automaton who will only process payments when a piece of post is deposited into his in-basket by a mailroom clerk with a shopping trolley full of other fools’ printed off and posted pleas for payment.
Only then is he able to physically see the electronically-generated purchase order and invoice sitting together nicely and conveniently so that he can go into the system and find their actual electronic cohorts on his computer. Then he will press the “pay” button.
Lord knows what he then does with the hard copies.
There is no logic to this. It is wasteful of time and resources for us as suppliers as well as for them.
Someone, like the young entrepreneurs in my class, had the creativity and drive to design my life-saving accountancy software after he or she struggled to keep up with the day to day processes required to keep their business finances in order and running smoothly. And someone else designed the software that allows this mega-huge public agency to generate, track, and pay hundreds of thousands of invoices a year between thousands of different sub-agencies and suppliers- from tiny little fish like me to global corporations that fulfil multi-million pound contracts.
And yet some guy is sitting in an office in front of his computer, along with his colleagues, awaiting my envelope so they can open it up, take out the paper, and electronically process the electronically-generated transaction.
I can think of a slew of similar examples of this, from the way my local library processes check-outs to the way the electric company records my meter self-reading. I’m sure you can, too.
What I don’t know is what to do about it. But I do know that if you are looking for The Next Big Idea, it’s important to remember that no matter how whizzy you design your perfect solution, it will always have to factor in the humans on the other end of its processes. Don’t forget the humans as you design and refine your product!
Also, if you are splashing out on the next great solution for your business, it is worth taking the time to train and observe and refine the way your teams use it. Because they could just be doing everything twice- they way they used to do it, and the new way- just in case. Don’t forget the humans as you implement and change over!
The perfect startup idea, the perfect problem-solving solution, does not happen in a vacuum. It it released out into the real world full of imperfect and habit-encrusted humans. Keep them in the design, refine, and implementation processes and you might just have The Next Big Thing!
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I write about how I became the founder of a tech startup as a non-techie, over-40 female with no entrepreneurial experience, and all I am learning along the way. You can see more here. If you think this might be helpful for others on their entrepreneurial journey, please recommend and share.