• I'm not updating this anymore. Most of my writing can now be found on Medium

  • Can We Fix Operation Enduring Wait?

    May 21, 2013 Clay Johnson

    Last night, the Daily Show ran a great segment on the billion dollar technical catastrophe called the VA and DoD's health record interoperability program:

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  • On Yesterday's Senate Failure

    Apr 18, 2013 Clay Johnson

    See -- these things are related: you might hate that government doesn't let you buy fresh milk, and raids milk farms, and I might hate that government doesn't mandate ingredient lists on cigarettes and alcohol. You might want to tap the oil well in your back yard, and I might want to finance solar panels to put on my roof. But all of these things are related: the ability for a narrow set of people to manipulate our government towards their will instead of the people's. It's subtracting the common from our sense.

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  • It Probably Took Six Months to Put this Form on the Internet

    Mar 15, 2013 Clay Johnson

    As i explained yesterday, everyone should hate the Paperwork Reduction Act. But I thought I'd just point out the insanity of this law. Check Be Tobacco Free. On it, you'll see this classic form:

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  • The Law Everyone Should Hate

    Mar 14, 2013 Clay Johnson

    Let's say you ran one of the Fortune 10 companies. And for some reason, you wanted to ensure that this business would be hated by its customers, forever. What would you do?

    Now the obvious thing to do would be to do something poisonous to your product -- to somehow make it dangerous or deadly. Add lead to the toys. Put the spark plugs next to the gas tank. Put mercury in the sausage. But that's the stuff that makes for short term catastrophes that could end your business, not long term contempt that'll keep your business hated, but still keep you in business. You want to run this like a cable company, not ValueJet.

    No, for long term contempt, you need stuff that nobody notices. Stuff that can stick around in your organization forever and not be corrected because it's long been forgotten. This is a problem that can't be solved with such sophomoric thinking as just accidentally running over some children with your trucking business. You need to bring in the experts at this: the "corporate policy" people.

    What I'd do is create a policy that makes it really hard for my company's employees to ask questions of my company's customers. I'd make it a struggle to collect feedback. In order to collect any form of feedback, I'd make it so that you had to first ask for permission from an underfunded and understaffed component of the central office of my corporation.

    Of course I'd also make it take at least six months to get this approval. That way, most of the people who wanted to ask my customers a question were immediately discouraged from doing so. And of course, the people that I'd put in this underfunded understaffed component of my central office -- I wouldn't make them professional question askers. They wouldn't be language experts or people obsessed with the "customer experience." Instead -- just to make sure that whatever questions to customers came out of my office were terrible -- I'd staff this office with economists and lawyers.

    Then, just to be especially perverse, what I'd do is encourage my company to use social media. I'd create policies around it, pushing my company to go online on Facebook and Twitter and stuff, and to have "authentic conversations" with our customers. I'd tell them that it was totally cool to use social media to informally do whatever they wanted, except to use that information inform product or service decisions.

    This way, my employees will be completely cut off from their customers needs. And the only employees that actually make it to the customers are the people who know how to talk to the economists. That'll make it so whatever inputs and outputs of my business are so incomprehensible that they'll just create more frustration rather than solve problems. And making people go out in social media? That's just the icing that makes it so people think they're giving input to the company without that input actually making it anywhere useful. That'll make the customers nuts!

    It's a machievellian scenario that, sadly, I didn't make up.

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Information Diet © 2011 Clay Johnson