Presentation on theme: "Designing Non-Routine Knowledge Work"— Presentation transcript:
1 Designing Non-Routine Knowledge Work Carolyn Ordowich and Douglas Austrom, Ph.D.
2 Five Forces Shifting the Nature of Work Gratton TECHNOLOGYTechnological capability increases exponentiallyFive billion become connectedThe cloud becomes ubiquitousContinuous productivity gainsSocial participation increasesThe world’s knowledge becomes digitalizedMega-companies & micro-entrepreneurs emergeEver-present avatars and virtual worldsRise of cognitive assistantsTechnology replaces jobsENERGY RESOURCESSOCIETYFamilies become rearrangedThe rise of reflexivityThe role of powerful womenThe balanced manGrowing distrust of institutionsThe decline of happinessPassive leisure increasesCONTEXTOF WORKEnergy prices increaseEnvironmental catastrophes displace peopleA culture of sustainability begins to emerge24/7 global worldEmerging economiesAscendance of Gen YIncreasing longevitySome Baby Boomers grow old poorGlobal migration increasesChina & India decades of growthFrugal innovationGlobal educational powerhousesWorld becomes urbanContinued financial bubbles and crashesRegional underclass emergeDEMOGRAPHY and LONGEVITYGLOBALIZATION
3 Task Uncertainty / Ambiguity Shifting Nature of WorkChange in nature of workTask Uncertainty / AmbiguityDegree/nature of interdependenceVolatilityVirtuality - time zones, ICT, language, geographyX-boundaries - functional/ discipline, organizational, sector, national, culturalEffectivenessInnovationQualityFlexibilityServiceSustainabilityEfficiencyMixed ModelsHKnowledge WorkComplexityMixed Models“Manual”WorkV = Volatility. The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.U = Uncertainty. The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.C = Complexity. The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.A = Ambiguity. The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.LEfficiencyRoutineNon-routine3
4 What is Non-Routine Knowledge Work? The primary task of knowledge work is non-routine problem solving that requires a combination of convergent, divergent, and creative thinking (Reinhardt, Schmidt, Sloep, &Drachsler 2011). Knowledge work is typically non-repeated, unpredictable, and emergent.Knowledge work primarily involves the management of unstructured or semi-structured problems (Keen & Morton, 1978) characterized by imprecise information inputs, varying degrees of detail, extended or unfixed time horizons, dispersed information formats, and diffuse or general scope (Pava, 1983).
5 Evolution of Sociotechnical Systems Three Waves Wave One: 1950’s-1970’sSTS started with the design of routine work – both in the plant and office, which could be treated with the same socio-technical paradigm so that work redesign for both followed the pattern of the self-managing group. However as the environment became more turbulent, work became more non-routine, i.e. processes were multiple, concurrent and nonlinear; skills were too complex to permit cross-training; the work culture is that of an individual specialist who must collaborate with others to achieve outcomes.STS evolved to deliberation design of non-routine work – Pava highlighted that technology had become cognitive , a figure-ground reversal, pushing physical instruments into the background. Wave Two’s conversion processes entailed the transformation of equivocal, ill-defined, ambiguous and conflicting issues into problems that can be dealt with. The topics vary immensely depending on the context and resources are assembled in temporary systems, often called projects. Deliberation covers a whole miscellany of unprogrammed activities that make up professional and managerial work that goes beyond the exclusive concentration on decision making. Deliberations reveal the cognitive techniques that result in decisions as outcomes.Advanced computer and communications technologies have expanded the capacity for deliberation beyond the walls of the organization, resulting in Wave 3 of Socio-technical design. According to Trist, this allows for far higher levels of complexity to be comprehended, prodigious amounts of information to be rapidly summarized and retrieved and many alternatives compared without incurring intolerable fatigue, and all these data and analyses checked and shared with an immediacy hitherto impossible. Thus deliberations strengthened by these technologies are used to cope with an increasingly turbulent environment. Trist says that this allows knowledge workers to address more topics at higher levels of competence and accomplish more of the work that has always been left undone because it was too difficult or too time-consuming, hoping that the urgent will less often drive out the important. However, Trist says this can’t happen without a figure-ground reversal in the social sphere from static positions that delineate the responsibilities of the officeholders and their authority to discharge them. These positions confer ownership of expertise and access to privileged knowledge in ways that falsely politicize the resolution of complex issues dependent on pooled knowledge and interpositional and trans-organizational collaboration. The discretionary coalitions brought into existence by deliberations yield a novel organizing principle in relation to which the static positions of the organization chart become scaffolding and retreat into the background. Roger Martin in Rethinking the Decision Factory, in an HBR October 2013 blog suggested the same. Trist says that self-managing teams + project work + deliberations form the complete organizational alternative to traditional technocratic bureaucracy.Wave Two: 1970’s-1990’sWave Three: 1990’s-Present
6 Evolution of Sociotechnical Systems Wave One: 1950’s-1970’s Nature of the WorkDesign Principles*Routine work in single organizationsWork groups with shared identitySingle linear conversion processJoint optimizationCompatibilitySociotechnical criterion and variance controlBoundary locationInformation flowDesign and human valuesMultifunctional principle: mechanism or organismSupport congruenceTransitional organizationMinimum critical specificationIncompletion* Albert Cherns, 1976
7 Evolution of Sociotechnical Systems Wave Two: 1970’s-1990’s Nature of the WorkDesign Principles**Non-routine face-to- face knowledge work in single organizationsIndividual performers with specialized expertiseMultiple, concurrent nonlinear conversion processesJoint optimizationSelf-design by the members of the unit being changedSpecify only those things that must be defined allowing for ongoing adaptationMulti-functionality and redundancy of functionsIterative and open- ended design process* Cal Pava, 1983
8 Evolution of Sociotechnical Systems Wave Three: 1990’s- Present Nature of the WorkDesign PrinciplesVirtual, non-routine workWork and workers distributed across multiple locations and/or organizationsInformation and communication technology enabledMultiple, concurrent, nonlinear, independent, and interdependent conversion processesAn iVUCA world***Whole systems optimizationAlign on shared purpose and mutually beneficial outcomesPromote dignity, meaning, challenge, mastery, autonomy, and self- determinationFoster learning and knowledge sharingSupportive infrastructure and coordination systemMinimum critical specificationsParticipative, iterative, real- time design, and mutual adaptation*** Interconnected, Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous
9 STS Designing for Non-linear Knowledge Work Design By PrinciplesWith new technologies, design is increasingly becoming the product itself created through a complex network of entities. It is the ideas behind the products (now made more and more by machines) that make the difference between success and failure.Ideas can’t be organized the way physical objects can; people must be inspired to create and innovate.Competitive advantage is becoming an issue of not just actions, but beliefs. People are most likely to coalesce into groups of avid participants (high-performing employees, buyers, consumers, cause-backers, etc.) if the organization taps their strongest interests, talents and temperament through principles.Design By ContextContexts are simple maps or frames that help us deal with complexity. They help to describe and handle certain parts of reality, but are not the reality itself. You can never fully understand complexity, but you can frame it within a certain context to solve a particular problem. The paradox is that by keeping the design frame simple, we can tackle complexity at every level.
10 Informed Decisions and Action Critical Design Elements for Designing Non-Routine Knowledge Work By PrinciplesInformed Decisions and ActionNew InsightsPool of Shared KnowledgeDeliberations*Coordinating System** Based on STS values and principles.
16 Key Unit of Analysis -> Deliberations Deliberations are patterns of exchange and communication in which people engage with themselves or others to reduce the equivocality of a problematic issue.The salient elements of a deliberation include the …Topics or problematic issues facing the social entity about which people reflect and communicateForums in which they occur which may structured, semi-structured, or unstructured or ad hocParticipants both those who are currently involved and those who ideally should be involved in the deliberation.Coalitions whose purpose is to obtain the best outcomes from the inputs of multiple perspectives, a novel organizing principle, which pushes the static positions of the organization chart into the background.Deliberations they are not decisions. They are a more continuous process from which decisions may emerge.Deliberations are not meetings which are gatherings of people. They are often one of the forums in which deliberations occur. Deliberations are encounters, exchanges and reflections that help resolve an equivocal topic.Developing an understanding of the perspective of each party in the deliberation helps to ensure all points of view of what is valued on the topic are present in the deliberationParticipants hold divergent perspectives that constitute the reciprocal values that must be balanced in dynamic coalitions.Parties who characteristically take divergent positions are identified as well as those in unity and those in convergence.Coalitions bring together those in unity and those in contention over the issue at hand to hold the tension so that a breakthrough innovation can occur. These coalitions can be thought of as networks that are formed to balance opposite interests in order to produce intelligent trade-offs in the deliberation. Conflicting perspectives are best resolved when one focuses on issues vs. people, on interests vs. positions, and from a "win-win" context.Pava, 1983
17 Knowledge Work - the R&D Continuum Pure Research WorkDON’T KNOWWHATwe are looking forHOWto carry out the researchApplied Research Work(i.e. end state or objective)KNOWExploratory Development Workto achieve itAdvanced Development WorkIN DETAILStart-Up (pilot plants, beta testing) Development WorkCONCEPTUALLYScale-Up (volume & costs) Development WorkHOW OPERATIONALLYR12D43We all know knowledge work as primarily R&D work. This slide describes the different kinds of R&D work on a continuum. With Scale-Up Development work, this transitions the work to the routine production system.
18 Deliberations Across the Knowledge Generation Continuum MYSTERIESHEURISTICSALGORITHMSR1-R2BreakthroughsD1-D2Enhancements and ExtensionsD3-D4Optimization of ExecutionSense MakingSolution GenerationHigh UncertaintyExploratoryFocus on effectivenessDon’t know WHAT, don’t know HOWInformal mutual adjustmentValue RealizationSolution DeliveryLow UncertaintyPrescriptiveFocus on efficiencyKnow WHAT, know HOWNegotiated plans, SOPs, results
19 Coordination Complexity Across the Breakthrough-Optimization Continuum Adapted from Mintzberg.If the knowledge barriers are to be managed or mitigated, our comparative study would appear to indicate a phenomenon that “many of the mechanisms that function to coordinate work in a co-located setting are absent or disrupted in a distributed project”.Thus, the focus on appropriate and augmented coordination mechanisms is even more critical in virtual work, at whatever stage across the continuum.MysteryHeuristicAlgorithm