[LINK] What's wrong with this picture? McKinsey report on 'Boosting Government Productivity'

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Fri Nov 2 07:36:23 AEDT 2007

Jan Whitaker wrote:
> At 01:46 PM 1/11/2007, steve jenkin wrote:
>> A sop to this view:
>> > The economist William Baumol famously noted in 19674 that services may
>> > lag behind manufacturing in productivity because their labor-intensive
>> > nature makes it hard to apply cost-saving technological innovations:
>> > it will always take the same amount of time for a teacher to read a
>> > story, for instance, or for a nurse to give a shot.
> funny you should mention this. I was in a local restaurant last night 
> with about 8 staff on the floor and each one having one of those 
> little pda type order takers. it must have taken the kid 2-4 minutes 
> PER ORDER and there were 8 of us at the table. I said to him when he 
> got to my end of the table that he should talk to his boss about how 
> long it takes to do orders this way. His answer was telling:
> If I write it down, then I would have to go back and enter it in the 
> computer.
...and incredibly, I am now seeing checkout staff in retail settings 
struggling with cash registers using mouse-based UIs. This is 
*unbelievably* slow compared to a keypad. There's a computer store 
nearby my office where I buy Ethernet cables when they're needed. It 
takes about 30 seconds to find the cable, and about ten minutes to get 
to the front of the queue and pay for the thing.

The "solution" in the computer industry is "what we want to sell", not 
"what makes life better for the user"...

> He said that sentence about 5 different ways to explain the situation 
> to the 'dumb lady', which of course slowed down the order taking even 
> more. We had been sitting for about 20 minutes waiting for them to get 
> to this point, so his slowdown was equally depressing. The place is 
> notorious for poor service, so now I understand why. But it still 
> doesn't explain the lost looking young women and men in the red shirts 
> wandering around without interacting with customers in any way unless 
> you grabbed them, almost literally, and dragged them to your table to 
> do their jobs. No amount of technology will solve that problem.
> Jan
> Jan Whitaker
> JLWhitaker Associates, Melbourne Victoria
> jwhit at janwhitaker.com
> business: http://www.janwhitaker.com
> personal: http://www.janwhitaker.com/personal/
> commentary: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
> Living, like writing, requires no wisdom. Only revising does. - Jim 
> Sollisch, Sept, 2007
> 'Seed planting is often the most important step. Without the seed, 
> there is no plant.' - JW, April 2005
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