Can We Afford to Get Personal?

One prediction of advancing technology is our expectation that “general” solutions will become “personal”. Not only does that mean new things, services and experiences will be delivered on a more personal level, but there will also be changes in the organisations that deliver them.

A demand for an organisation to deliver personalised, rather than generalised offers, potentially makes it more costly to operate. For private and public organisations, this means a transition towards the personal could be a problem.

Let’s Consider a Real-World Example, Personalised Healthcare

An example of this is personal healthcare. Healthcare today is based on a generalised model of an event, diagnosis, and care. Tomorrow’s healthcare, informed by knowledge of the individual (history (health and context), genome and psychological information), has the potential for a more rapid path to care.

During transition between today and tomorrow, the traditional “general” healthcare path will co-exist with the “personalised.” It will likely still be needed in some form afterwards too in order to cope with outlying cases, such as unidentifiable patients e.g. overseas travellers, emergency cases and large scale events like epidemics.

What are the gains, costs and interesting parts of a transition from today to tomorrow, then?

Let’s unpack some of them using our health care example:


  • Faster patient care cycle potentially reducing weight on facilities (offset by ageing population, increase in chronic conditions such as dementia, new conditions, and failing old remedies such as the rise of antimicrobiable resistance)
  • More rapid dispersal of new knowledge and solutions through systems rather than long training cycles (laying a more scalable architecture… possibly)


  • Running dual systems during transition and beyond
  • End-of-lifeing equipment before it is completely depreciated
  • Implementing new technology and associated training
  • New specialist staff
  • Increase in face-to-face care staff
  • Early retirement of staff
  • Re-ordering organisation structure
  • Cultural change issues, such as changes in status as knowledge (e.g., medicine) becomes embedded in systems, leading to human interaction (e.g. nursing) becoming more valued


  • How changing healthcare system processes are communicated to society
  • Integration of changed system with other services
  • Taking advantage of collateral improvements (e.g., gene editing)
  • Ability of personalised systems to cope with unusual impersonal challenges (e.g., a mass healthcare event such as an epidemic or crisis)
  • Being able to manage the transition with labour organisations (e.g., unions and staff organisations)
  • Potentially prolonged transition due to treatment approval compliance
  • Ongoing technological advances
  • Business models of pharmaceutical companies undermined by new treatments (e.g., genomic, physical augmentation, informed insights and interventions based on mental state and body)


The transition from a system based on generalised 80/20 care practices (e.g., blanket use of Cognitive behavioural Therapy (CBT), statins) to personalised ones (e.g., genome specific care) is not simply a transition of technology – it is a change to industry and business ecology.

Why Is This Interesting to Business?

You may not be in the healthcare business, but you may have a similar transition flagged in your domain. Rather than look at this change on the horizon as a far away change, take the time to ‘wargame’ a transition through to its possible outcomes. Consider how you might position your business or organisation for that change.

This is the sort of work that I do. I help organisations de-stress future change by confronting it now. In doing so, I help them make micro-adjustments that will be part of a productive legacy for that business’s future leaders.

Interested in more thoughts like this?

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