I love this concept of the people margin. It comes from Automattic engineer Mike Shelton in 2018.
Data can be precise, specific, absolute and is meant to represent the actions and behaviors of people and things. Yet, people themselves can be imprecise, abstract, non-linear, and unpredictable. I call this the people margin – data’s margin of error when applied to everyday life. Context matters. We intuitively modify our behaviors based on numerous inputs. These modifications often can’t be explained with data alone. Only when we apply context to our product based on actual people’s stories, can we create real experiences.
Shelton wasn’t talking about medicine but he could have been.
Industrialized healthcare positions patients as units in clinical workflows. But people are unpredictable and no two are alike. Trying to create a process involving humans as some kind of fixed variable won’t work for long.
When designing health system processes it would be a good idea to consider the people margin. And recognize humans for the messy wildcard that they are.
If you like The People Margin you might like our Clinical Industrialization Archives.