This machine is a Purpose Obfuscation O-meter. (Work out the acronym for yourself).
I know you love my drawings.
A lot of organisations use these devices. This is how they work:
A customer or service user leans towards the ‘In’ funnel on the left hand side of the machine and states what he or she requires from the system. The machine scrambles the soundwaves into what it thinks is a pretty good interpretation of what the customer or service user has said. It then spits out its version of what it thinks the system’s purpose is into the ‘Out’ basket, giving the frontline workers instructions on what to do.
The machine is very versatile and can be utilised in many organisational settings, both in the public and private sectors. Let’s see it in action…
As you can see, the machine is pretty rubbish and although the people who installed it were well-intentioned, their best efforts have resulted in something that actually distorts true purpose, as defined by the customer or service user. This causes the frontline workers to behave differently, in order to meet the new de facto purpose generated by the machine. Effort is then focused on this pseudo purpose, as it has now inadvertently supplanted the real purpose of the system.
Workers can become very adept at meeting the machine’s definition of ‘purpose’, whilst simultaneously failing to attain the real purpose, which has now been obfuscated (the machine does what it says on the tin). Sometimes, the workers still manage to meet true purpose, but fail to achieve what the machine thinks is the system’s purpose. This causes them to get in trouble. It also means that managers have to initiate a lot of audit and inspection to ensure that the machine is satisfied. Unfortunately this costs a lot of time, money and effort. It also makes the workers and customers or service users feel fed up.
The solution is simple. If your organisation uses one of these machines, just turn it off and LISTEN to what your customers or service users are asking for. Then, design the front end of your organisation to handle predictable demand. That way, you end up with a responsive system that is geared towards meeting its true purpose, which is no longer obfuscated by one of these silly machines.
Easy isn’t it?
The alternative is P.O.O.