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Invitation to a TOBI-Talk by Steven Alter: Facets of work: A new approach for making established research knowledge more useful for visualizing and designing IT- reliant systems

Steven Alter is Professor Emeritus at the University of San Francisco. After receiving a PhD at MIT and teaching at the University of Southern California, he served as vice president of a manufacturing software start-up that was acquired by Applied Materials. Upon returning to academia he wrote four editions of a major IS textbook. That effort led to research focused on developing systems analysis and design methods that business professionals could use for their own understanding and to help them collaborate more effectively with IT professionals, consultants, and vendors. The result was various versions of the “work system method (WSM),” which focuses on the business problem of creating or improving a sociotechnical work system, rather than the more limited technical challenge of creating or improving software that satisfies requirements. Most of his articles in journals and conference proceedings are related to WSM, work system theory (WST), service systems, and extensions of WST such as work system design principles, a theory of workarounds, a service value chain framework, and a new theory of IS user satisfaction.

The idea of facets of work grew out of an earlier attempt to bring more knowledge and richer, more evocative ideas to systems analysis and design (SA&D), business process management (BPM) and enterprise modelling (EM), thereby expanding their scope and improving designer interactions with business stakeholders. Focusing on facets of work (such as making decisions, communicating, controlling execution, co-creating value, etc.) potentially provides useful guidance without requiring details, precision, and notation that are unnecessary until later in a project. The idea of facets of work also applies to brainstorming about digital transformations and digital innovation, both of which necessarily involve significant changes related to facets of work . The current version of this idea identifies 18 facets, each of which 1) is important in many practical situations, 2) applies to both sociotechnical and totally automated systems,3) highlights many concepts that are largely ignored in typical SA&D methods, 4) is associated with a set of success criteria and design trade-offs, 5) is associated with a series of sub-facets that often are useful, and 6) implies open-ended questions that can be useful in starting a conversation about an important aspect of an IT-reliant system.

Location: Fürther Straße 248 (Entrance Electrolux, not TÜV!), 90429 Nürnberg, 1st Floor on the right in the lobby. See this site for details.

Date of Talk: 5.12.2019 at 11:00 a.m.