A tiny plant on the desert floor
Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

The Little Things

Koan #48

Chris Kiess
Published in
4 min readJan 25, 2024

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I hit one of those hand sanitizer pumps at the pharmacy the other day. You know, the ones in the gallon container that dispense an ungodly amount of sanitizer that still has you rubbing your hands together two minutes later. There I am in the pharmacy, rubbing sanitizer all over my hands, in between fingers, up my arms, wondering when it will thin out enough to dry. Then I started wondering about the company that manufactured this stuff.

In my home, I have various pump dispensers of this sort. There are the soap pumps at every sink. The shampoo and conditioner dispensers in the shower. Then you have the hand creams, lotions, sprays and the list goes on. It’s seldom that any of them dispense the right amount of product. Most of the time, they seem to dispense too much. This seems to be the exact opposite of my experience in public restrooms and restaurants where automatically dispensed products seem to consistently dispense too little soap, paper towels, napkins, ketchup, etc.

Here’s what I picture happening in the development of these various products. I could be wrong, but I imagine a hand soap company that needs to increase sales. So, they look at their business slides in a meeting and decide to put an incentive in place for executives who can do this. They set a metric that trickles down to some product person or engineer who has the idea to…

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Chris Kiess
Design Koans

Healthcare User Experience Designer in the Greater Chicago area