In the wake of Robert Capps’ Wired piece on the Good Enough Revolution, the September 21 NY Times Idea of The Day noted that “cheap, fast, simple tools are suddenly everywhere”, referenced Capps’ observation that they’re being used in healthcare by “digitally connected microclinics”*, and dismissed with faint attention Michael Masnick’s Techdirt critique.
Masnick says (with our emphases) that
[T]he concept of “good enough” misses the point — and the real issue is that the actual quality is in those other characteristics that he discusses. The real problem is that some start to focus on the “quality” of some aspect of the product, rather than the quality of meeting what the consumer wants ….The people who create [products and services] almost always assume that the most important attributes are the product itself, rather than the convenience it provides users.
Our feeling is that Masnick is in greater agreement with Capps than he realizes, but merely lacks the conceptual vocabulary to make the connection. With respect to health care, Jason Hwang & Clayton Christensen help, in The Innovators Prescription, with their notion of the consumer’s “job to be done” (pp. 10-11, specifically regarding clinics at p. 112, and throughout the book).
In a way, Capps himself contributes, in his remarks about the Kaiser microclinics:
Two doctors working out of a microclinic could meet 80 percent of a typical patient’s needs. With a hi-def video conferencing add-on, members could even link to a nearby hospital for a quick consult with a specialist. Patients would still need to travel to a full-size facility for major trauma, surgery, or access to expensive diagnostic equipment, but those are situations that arise infrequently.
If that 80 percent number rings a bell, it’s because of the famous Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. And it happens to be a recurring theme in Good Enough products. You can think of it this way: 20 percent of the effort, features, or investment often delivers 80 percent of the value to consumers. That means you can drastically simplify a product or service in order to make it more accessible and still keep 80 percent of what users want—making it Good Enough—which is exactly what Kaiser did.
But Capps has it just 20% wrong (okay, maybe less than 20%). 20% of the effort, features, or investment delivers 100% or more of the value to 80% (or some other big percentage) of consumers. It does the job they need to have done – 100% of that job. The other 20% (or whatever actual fraction) of consumers simply have a different job they need to have done.
Kaiser’s clinics are exactly good enough for what a large share of their visitors need, for the job they need to have done (which can be labeled a ‘health care’ job – but in a substantial number of cases could probably accurately be labeled something else).
We strongly believe that a ‘Good Enough’ revolution is just what US health care needs more of – even if, as we’ve seen here, that term may not precisely describe what it is we’re talking about.
*(The Times piece errantly attributes the observation to Shirky, rather than Capps, who employs it in his Wired article.)Tweet