top of page
  • Various Authors

Is Healthcare and the NHS suffering from Martec's Law?

Martec’s Law encapsulates the greatest management challenge of the 21st century: how do we manage relatively slow-changing organizations in a rapidly changing technological environment? It is a hard problem.

As shown in the graph above, we know that technology changes at an exponential rate. This is the phenomenon of Moore’s Law — and, more broadly, Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns.

But we also know that human organizations don’t change that quickly.

Changes in behaviour and culture take time. There are only so many changes in people, processes, and technology that an organization can productively absorb at once — at least without a major disruption.

So approximately speaking, organizations change at a logarithmic rate — much slower than exponential technological change.

What is the answer? What can Healthcare and the NHS do?

1) Recognize that they and patients live in a world of perpetual change, they are never going to be fully caught up ever again. It’s the journey, not the destination.

2) Decide which technology changes to embrace and which to forgo, at least for the moment.

Healthcare providers can only absorb a tiny fraction of changes into their existing organizations at any given point in time. Therefore, they must strategically choose the few they believe will have the greatest impact.

3) Let the others go. Trying to change too many things simultaneously leads to disaster. Instead, they should ruthlessly prioritize the subset of changes that best align with their strategy.

How should Healthcare and the NHS adapt to change? Evolutionary or Revolutionary?

Option 1 - Evolutionary

Organisations can't slow the rate of technological change, but they can improve the rate of change in an organisation to a certain degree.

Option 1 - Revolutionary

Eventually, organisations must "reset" to a new technological baseline, but such transitions are extremely disruptive.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts by tweeting @lloydgprice :)

Screenshot 2023-11-06 at 13.13.55.png
bottom of page