Less Complexity, More Value


Look familiar? This map of MLA’s Rube Goldbergesque information system infrastructure shows how our systems have been creatively jury-rigged over time, and expanded and patched to solve specific problems or serve specific needs.

This convoluted system is the enemy of MLA’s continued relevance to members.

MLA’s new strategic goal #4 isRationalize and transform MLA information and communication systems.”

The phrase “Less is more,” popularized by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (also Chicago-based, like MLA), applies here. The areas shaded in orange above are areas that we believe could be effectively merged into a single system. We don’t want to frustrate, annoy, and baffle by continuing to build square pegs to fit into round holes. Instead, we want to enable, engage, and energize—effectively and simply.

As John Oliver said in his March 1 Last Week Tonight show, everybody knows infrastructure is important, but no one makes it a priority. At MLA, though, technology infrastructure is the goal we are moving forward most quickly, because it affects the member experience in so many ways. With the right changes, we hope to make our information infrastructure as seamless and invisible as the system portrayed in Oliver’s “Infrastructure: The Movie.”

What can you expect from MLA’s new “less is more” infrastructure?

  • a streamlined, member-focused website that gets you to information you need quickly, on your preferred platform and devices (although we don’t promise support for IE8!)
  • better use of MLA resources, with less money spent on infrastructure and less staff time spent on routine maintenance
  • seamless ways for members, committees, sections, SIGs, and chapters to interact, collaborate, and converse professionally
  • less complex menus and easier-to-read content
  • MLA group sites brought together under a cohesive platform, freeing volunteers to spend their time on more meaningful, nonoperational activities

We want our new infrastructure to reflect what you need. Help us out: On what device do you most often access MLA website content? How about committee, section, and other group content and discussions? Let us know in the comments!