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Unfortunately, interoperability is a myth


The concept refers to disparate systems working together, sharing information, etc.

Except that it's all a myth. Like the Sasquatch, healthy Girl Scout cookies and honest politicians. Pure fiction.

  • There's even standing government committee's that have been pursuing this fictional condition for years (and lots of our money spent!)!


In November 2016 there were widespread fires in Tennessee. Which prompted a widespread need for evacuations.

Except that the disparate notification systems (and the people behind those systems) did not actually, uh, "share information".

  • And notifications did not get sent out, except for those that contradicted each other.
  • And the good citizens of the impacted community were caught off-guard and confused.

Here's some news coverage of this finger pointing. (opens in new tab)

I get the tech argument about WHY interoperability is important (round peg ... round hole, etc.), I just think most folks go about it arse-backwards.

And that's my message for today.

  • If you need 'something' to work with another 'something' ... don't assume that technology will make that happen. Not by itself anyway.

Each 'ínteroperability' breakdown I've studied all has their roots in the human relationships (or lack thereof) behind the systems.

Understand and build the human relationship first.

The tech solution - if applicable - will then be more clear ... and a whole lot more effective.

True interoperability = human relationships

How can you promote better interoperability?

Mike McKenna

About the author

Mike McKenna is the founder and president of TEAM Solutions. He helps public and private sector leaders improve their outcomes before, during and after a planned event or unplanned crisis.

Please contact Mike via the Contact page.

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  • Good information, thanks for sharing Eugene. I’ve found that the more we can institutionalize how decisions are made (as opposed to only having one good decision maker that may or may not be available) that everyone’s decision making improves. And with better decisions, the outcomes improve too. I really appreciate you sharing your perspective from Moscow … it helps other readers gain perspective on all the different ways we get to the finish line!

  • Евгений Иванов says:

    Good afternoon ,Mike! I realized that not tolerate categorical lack of professionalism and have a modest experience of working and communicating with people. The team is a strange substance , it’s like a puzzle. I need to understand what is happening in the soul of my colleagues if he had the experience and it will be harmful for our work. Imagine a little boy “Timmy” – how are you going to talk to him . Will he realize ? This is a puzzle and YOU have a magic item to match with all the pieces. As I always say with children or feeble old people: I sink to their level (I have to be face-to-face) sometimes use tactile contact. I say calmly and as an adult, I give him instruction. For example: Old Granny weighs 120 kg fell from the bed and she was not able to get up. I sat down on knees : Hello ! Do You hear me? What’s your name? What hurts you? Now we turn you to the side and lay on the blanket and lay you on the bed. If you feel pain , you have to tell me. Do you understand?.
    If we are talking about the evacuation of the village and small towns is a complex task. There are plans for the evacuation and so on. Who inspects these plans when you were training? I’m scared to think about it.In the end, everything will depend on the guy who will do the evacuation.

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