Human-Centered Systems

Human-centered design, as elaborated last week, is a key enabler of human-centered systems.  The elements of human-centered systems include:

  • Efficient & effective ecosystem services
  • Integration across service systems
  • Equitable & affordable access the services
  • Continuous learning & improvement of services
  • Leveraging lessons learned broadly

My central premise is that everybody wants our societal systems to perform well for everybody.  This requires, of course, that we design and operate these functions as systems rather than as a patchwork of activities.

It seems reasonable to assume that we all want service systems that are efficient and effective, e.g., for health, education, energy and information.  While the lack of efficiency and effectiveness can result in greater profits for providers, for example, in the health system, this is totally unacceptable in human-centered systems.

We should desire integration across service systems to foster synergies across public and private providers.  This integration can be technological and procedural and does not require actual mergers of organizations.  Proponents of human-centered systems will argue and lobby for policy frameworks that encourage this integration.

Equitable and affordable access to services should be assured.  This requires the availability of requisite technologies and possibly subsidized access.  Human-centered systems will foster knowledgeable access to and use of resources that will enable well-informed choices among health, education, energy and information services.

Continuous learning and improvement of efficiency and effectiveness are central.  Pursuit of the above three aspirations will result in enormous data sets that can inform improvements of efficiency and effectiveness, for instance, in terms of identifying and remediating usability issues and hindrances of critical importance to human-centered systems.

We need to leverage lessons learned broadly across health, education, energy and information services, both in the US and globally.  Inevitably, some ideas will work well and others will not.  Some will only work under particular circumstances.  Advocates of human-centered systems will work to assure that the overall learning system explores and exploits innovations broadly.

My posts over the next few weeks will illustrate the nature of human-centered systems in the contexts of our health, education, and energy ecosystems.

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