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Future of Work: Re-designing our value proposition in the age of cognitive computing: Distilling sim

In part 1 of this 3 part series I argued that in the face of disruption and the complexity that results from it we need to use the concept of “navigation” as a design philosophy when re-designing the value proposition of our product or service. In the second part I argued that while “navigation” is important as a design framework it is not enough by itself and so we needed to recognize that intelligent machines and software will begin to do much of what we currently “do” and that in order to remain relevant we need to quickly move into what I call the Zone of Highest Value.

In this final segment I want to talk about complexity. Specifically, how increasing complexity is something that is literally paralyzing our customers. Helping them navigate this complexity, even within The Zone of Highest Value, isn’t enough. We need to first and foremost make sure that we are part of the solution and not part of the problem. This means keeping every product that we develop, every service that we provide, and every communication that we have with our customer as simple as possible. But maintaining simplicity on our part isn’t enough either, we also need to help our customers distill simplicity out of the complexity that they face.

Complexity is a by-product of technological disruption. Big data, cognitive computing, robotics, the Internet of Things are all game changing technologies but navigating through them is a complex and overwhelming process for customers. Especially because they are just in their infancy and the changes that they will bring over the next few years will be epochal.

In the book, based on an increasing body of research, I show that our minds are not hardwired to process the sheer amount of choices and decisions that we are faced with on a daily basis. We are quite literally overwhelmed. Study after study shows that in the face of too many choices, when confronting extreme complexity, we become paralyzed in our ability to process the information bombarding us and are unable to take action. Or if we are forced to take action at that point and time we tend to make the wrong choices, select the wrong solution, give the wrong answer, etc.

But it isn't just individuals that are having trouble taking effective action in the midst of this complexity. Companies, which basically just groups of people, are also experiencing the same symptoms. In other words, our customers, whether they are individuals or Fortune 50 companies, are overwhelmed and paralyzed by complexity.

Deloitte’s recently released its annual Human Resource Trends list. For 2015 “The need to simplify” showed up as one of the top 10 trends. Their research shows that 7 out of 10 companies rate the need to simplify as “important” and fully 25% rate it as “very important”. It is just further proof that everyone everywhere is drowning in complexity.

To remain relevant to our customers during this time of tremendous disruption we need to do two things:

1. We need to gain a deep understanding of the disruption and resulting complexity that our customers are facing. Only once we do this can we design a solution or product that sits in The Zone of Highest Value and which helps them navigate through the complexity they face.

2. The solution that we do develop for them needs to be simple to use and it needs to do exactly what it is designed to do with a minimum of bells and whistles. We need to resist the temptation to think that if we make our product/service more complex our customers will perceive it as more valuable. They won’t.

In a world of increasing complexity our value will come from our ability to help our customers navigate successfully through the specific complexity that they face by designing products and services that are simple and elegant.

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