Maslow and LIMS

(Ref Id: 1345682808)

According to Abraham Maslow our needs can be hierarchically represented as follows:

LIMS developers and purveyors keep thinking of ways to be helpful to the customer base. After all, these are systems meant, in some cases, to reduce headcount so a LIMS must be able to aid, and even replace, people in the laboratory. If we look closely at today's commercial LIMS they seem to assist people best at attaining level two of the pyramid and then leave them there to languish. That's right, level two from the bottom, at the Security level.

According to Maslow people primarily need food, air, water, and sleep. If we equate those needs to LIMS users we realize that we do not seek a LIMS to provide us with them but rather there are some other needs that we simply cannot do without. These are, generally, access to the system, reasonable performance; freedom from extraneous downtime, etc.

Let's rewrite level one for clarity. For LIMS we'll replace air, food, water, sleep with Performance, Availability, Extensibility, and Scalability. Depending on the laboratory type these will mean different things to different people and some will be more important than others. However, some form of them will be needed by all. The two person research lab cares less about scalability than 50 person contract lab for example, but that does not discount the aspect of the need -- they only differ in degree.

Now, up the chain to level two: Security. We want our data secure. We don't want people prying around in our results or copying our procedures. The LIMS must say, 'Hey you, STAY OUT!' Again, most systems do this; some better than others.

But when we move to the third level vendors fall flat. Social needs? When was the last time your LIMS interfaced with Facebook or some other social website? Does it even facilitate communication with different labs without resorting to the decades-old e-mail paradigm? Probably not. Let's keep climbing to see how thin the air gets.

Esteem Needs? Nope. LIMS designers seem bent on making people appear just like cogs in a gigantic wheel. One person is just as good as another. I cannot differentiate User X from Lab A from User Y from Lab B other than by a username and some configuration parameters. How sad. There is no personalization other than those features that would make the system more usable. There is no personality. Everyone is a cog in the mighty wheel. Your self esteem in these systems should be deflated.

If we have not yet blacked out let's try to get to the highest rung: Self-actualization. This seems like some kind of flighty nonsense but the article says that self-actualized people are "self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others, and interested [in] fulfilling their potential." I personally have no idea what any of that means but Maslow said it was the 'big thing' people want and I suppose you could query folks and ask them if the LIMS makes them feel more 'self-aware' or if they perceive that it actually aids them with their personal growth. Somehow I doubt that their answer would be 'yes.'

My point here is that there is uncharted territory above and beyond our existing LIMS experience and only the DIY and concept LIMS designers are willing to plunge into the unknown. The commercial vendors are sticking close to the second plateau so the only way to go now is 'up.'

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Citation: Maslow and LIMS. (2012). Retrieved Sat Jun 23 10:14:20 2018, from;iid=readMore;go=1345682808