October 21, 2013
Twitter wasn’t built in a day. The same can be said of Foursquare, Facebook or scores of other .com success stories. The inherent culture of most tech companies is built around the notion that fast, constant experimentation and iterative refinement makes for a good product. It is rather ironic then, given the way amendments rapidly changed our framing documents, that today government shuns the fast, iterative approach of Silicon Valley.
After the messy and often ugly process of creating legislation is completed, our government typically goes for the big reveal, the showy launch. This isn’t only a legislative issue, it’s often a policy, or cultural issue. To minimize risk, it is considered preferable to shy away from showing your cards until the thing you’ve built is finished. The thing is, like Facebook or Twitter, the work of government never has a finite end to it.
The rollout of Healthcare.gov has shown that government does a diservice when it hides the development process and pushes for the big launch at all costs. Notable exception — NASA does big launches rather well. Imagine if instead of a massive rollout, followed by the application of just enough duct tape and servers until the problems on the surface are patched just out of view, failure had actually been planned for, and even embraced as part of of the design, UX, and development process. In short, imagine if there had been a beta.healthcare.gov?read on →