Robert Poynton
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The false god of scale

April 27, 2012 – 1 min read


Human scale. What a difference it makes. Yesterday I wanted to transfer money from a UK account to an account in Spain. By chance I got an e mail from Lloyds bank that very morning saying that they had just made this easier and that I could do it on-line. Hooray!  But no. When I called it turned out that I didn’t have the right kind of account. The bank had e mailed me about something I actually wanted and then denied it to me.
It struck me that the problem here is scale. If they really knew me (like Miguel, my independent travel agent does) they wouldn’t do this. They set up all kinds of technological systems to try and personalise things and yet it is incredibly clunky and the net result yesterday was that I ended up disliking the bank that little bit more.

This is nuts. We have the perfect technology for personalising things. People. We do this naturally and brilliantly. Of course it doesn’t scale. So why don’t we accept that and let go of the idea that everything has to get big. Why can’t I have a little bank, truly personal, where the people know me, that is backed by a big entity to give you reassurance. To a certain extent in Spain we do. The small thing is the branch, who know me personally and will bend or break the rules if they need to and judge it to be a reasonable risk, but why not embrace that idea and give the people more freedom?

Why do we substitute a useless technology (IT) for a brilliant one (people) in pursuit of the false god of scale?

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