January 10, 2024

Computer says

Once ideas and processes take concrete form outside our head, we believe in them more. They become more real.

That’s a good thing when you are in control of giving the ideas and processes concrete form. But there is a danger that people will just stop thinking for themselves, and follow ‘the procedure’ even when the circumstances are entirely inappropriate.

For me, the answer is to specify the process, but not in too much detail. That way, the documentation supports the individual to do the routine parts of their job, while at the same time ensuring that they stay conscious enough of what they’re doing to be able to respond appropriately to variation.

One of the most tragic things about the Post Office/Horizon scandal is that many of the sub-postmasters, on spotting a discrepancy, assumed the system must be right, time and time again, putting their own money in to make up shortfalls that weren’t real. Actions that were later taken as an admission of guilt.

The Post Office and Fujitsu had no such excuse.