Riffing off Tim Burke:
There is a fundamental problem with building efficiencies into systems. There are essentially, with regard to white collar productivity, two schools of thought, Deming and Hammer. Deming for constant quality improvement and Hammer for business process re-engineering.
The Deming approach requires a certain understanding of the process in which all workers are engaged. From the standpoint of a software designer, it can all be conceptualized in terms of a workflow. Person A has tasks 1,2,3 Person B with function X has tasks 4,5. Task 4 requires 2, etc on down the line. The willingness of software engineers to absorb the details of workflows in business is highly limited - and the ability of managers of such processes to communicate their complexity and possible efficiencies and chokepoints, etc. is also highly limited. Furthermore the willingness for software engineers and business managers to deal with each other on a long-term basis is slight. Both see their time more profitably spent elsewhere. This is especially costly to the Deming scenario, and so what generally happens is a Hammer implementation.
This does damage to the process by obviating some complexity. So you actually have more complex and new systems shoved into a process which is actually dumbed down because of the communications limitations of managers and engineers. Then what ends up happening is that those employees in the process chain make up the difference by partially working with, and partially working around the new system in ways they have no incentive to explain, and often in ways their managers are unaware of. The outputs of these systems as well as their inputs may be manipulated because those processes to which information technology is applied are rarely end to end systems. So there is a complex adaptive dynamism at work and in the end describing these systems are like describing the flow of molecules of water down a stream. They are chaotic, somewhat random, extraordinarily complex, yet at a macro level comprehensible and predictable.
Once a system becomes predictable at a macro level it gets frozen into place as the practice of the business with all of the inefficiencies and mysteries locked in.
And then the boss changes and all of the internal stresses on the system lose particular incentives.
Systems engineers generally don’t have patience for such matters as conventions of using three employees to do a job that one person with an improved system could do. In the process of conceptualizing the system they are responsible for improving through information technology, they will be introduced to more information about the process than those people we call ‘functional people’ aka staff. This generally causes tension and a resistance for staffers to be forthcoming about those skills which be rendered obsolete.
Furthermore systems engineers have incentives to build generally applicable systems. Laziness is good quality, that is to say that re-usable systems which might be applicable to multiple businesses and their processes are always seen as more valuable to one-off custom systems.
Business managers generally don’t have patience or tolerance for such systems which make transparent the operations of their staff. There are often common sense improvements that can be made which exposes them or their superiors to an embarrassment.
In general, business process improvement / re-engineering projects and deliverables benefit most from being transparent and self-explanatory. You want God powers immediately and you want control over as many aspects as possible. However once these aspects of the system are established you want them to respond to the changing nature of the business. There is a fundamental conflict between thoroughness, time to implement and adaptability. Pick two.
Gaming environments on the other hand tend to be hermetic, even in sandboxes. There are certain aspects of the system which gives it a specific feel which must be maintained in order to keep it interesting and within a genre. The value of a game is in having a play value that keeps someone progressing towards a God level which must be entertainingly hidden. Emergent behavior in games is entirely desirable. In business systems it is discouraged.