Institute for Simplicity

Consulting Based on the Principles of Simplicity

About today´s complexity: crazy European Union

Artikel vom 08.09.2011

Senior citizens, handicapped and foreign tourist are suppsed to have an easier life in the future when they want to use ticketing machines and ATM machines. The European Commission is going sponsor a pilot in Spain and Germany with 3.4 Mio Euros. In Germany there is going to be test from 1 January 2012 with 24 machines in the city of Paderborn. for 3000 citizens their personal data and needs are going to be stored on individual chip cards. The machines will read the information from the  card and adapt his setting according to the individual (dpa, 30. August 2011).

Sounds like incredible complexity, doesn´t it? Everything can be done. Nothing is implossible. And whatever is possible must be done. Nice to have.

What comes to our minds about this?

First of all: we know from our own experience how frustrating it is to deal with self service ticket machines on trainstations. But not machines are responsible for this. They are only the results of a complex and permanently optimized pricing systems of the train companies and local authorities. Simplifications have to come from unifications of systems. In Berlin there are completely different functions and conditions than in Frankfurt, Paris or Rome. As a second step, simplifying the pricing systems helps by omitting certain possibilities, combinations and tariffs. The Wall Street Journal wrote 20 years ago:

„Before you automate, eliminate. You will save on everything“.

And now the European Union! They seem to have nothing to do. European Commission, Parliament, ministries and even the European Council of Ministers are permanently looking for new things to do. Nobody seems to think of the option that chipcard-based solutions should be developed by transportation companies and banks – if they are of any interest at all. Obviously these politicians believe that the companies are too slow and need to be speeded up. As a result, Germany as one of the rather advanced countries in Europe receives development aid from Brussels for better services to pensioners when they want to make use of an ATM or ticket machine.

Let us not forget that it is also quite complex for any european citizen to realize in what way politicians start initiatives of any kind and waste other people´s money.

Concentration on the essential and how to deal with complexity is something completely unknown to many people in companies and especially to politicians. What we need is clarity and real responsibility.