PDC 2008 Toward participatory organizations.


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Presentation for paper: Socialization of practice in a process world: Toward participatory organizations. In Proceedings of Participatory Design Conference 2008, Indiana University, Oct 1-4 2008.

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PDC 2008 Toward participatory organizations.

  1. 1. Socialization of Practice in a Process World Toward Participatory Organizations Peter H. Jones Redesign Research University of Toronto Institute for 21 st Century Agoras Participatory Design Conference 2008 Indiana University October 3, 2008
  2. 2. What’s the (wicked) problem? <ul><li>Our organizations need help. We live with/in the unlivable. </li></ul><ul><li>In many firms, the values of efficiency, hierarchy, central control have reached unsustainable extremes. </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders attempt change (transformation), but this is usually instrumental only. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Zuboff, 1998 “Mommy & Daddy are not at home.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Business research & “design thinking” unhelpful to change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most of this is short term, goal-oriented , not socially responsive </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Continue to see inability to learn as org cultures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The new is valorized (managers, processes) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. What’s (at least one) “answer?” <ul><li>Socializing … an organic process that diffuses artifacts & activities throughout an organization, </li></ul><ul><li>creating a web of connections that supports sustainable organizational practices. </li></ul>
  4. 4. How is this PD? <ul><li>(With apologies to Briggs & Makice) Macro-participation in a large organization </li></ul><ul><li>Focus of design is enlarged: organizational artifacts </li></ul><ul><li>Design of new process or practice is shared activity </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Users of new process are internal customers, contribute to design. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Structure of this artifact is conceived by design – design process unfolds over weeks </li></ul>
  5. 5. Strategy, Vision: Direction Processes : Org routines in production Practices : How things are done, but also where innovations emerge. Some grow into processes. Mintzberg “The Structuring of Organizations” Organization as platform for evolving practices ( Processes are what the firm recognizes)
  6. 6. A case study <ul><li>Large (2B + USD) retail systems provider </li></ul><ul><li>Spent >5 years developing “best practices” </li></ul><ul><li>Planned a “revolutionary” product (with customers & tests) </li></ul><ul><li>Tech evolved, & UX changed over long period </li></ul><ul><li>Development team sequestered - (to “innovate”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kept the project secret from rest of the company - until ready to release </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Corporate Persona </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A 100 year old Fortune 500 type firm with very traditional mgt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hierarchical, internally competitive, Argyris “Model I” </li></ul></ul>The governing Values of Model I are: Achieve the purpose as the actor defines it Win, do not lose Suppress negative feelings Emphasize rationality Primary Strategies are: Control environment and task unilaterally Protect self and others unilaterally
  7. 7. Processes institutionalized <ul><li>Former UX process failed </li></ul><ul><li>UX goals, deliverables, feedback “pre-defined” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By product & marketing management </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No latitude to share fuzzy, emergent findings from field </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Repeatable, measurable, defined routines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Process view assumes portable “plug & play,” e.g. RUP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consistent training of all using process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lines of authority & expertise form (quickly) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Imported processes rarely sustainable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And processes work against knowledge & growth. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. After this project failed in market … <ul><li>Company reorganized UX as a small team </li></ul><ul><li>With a small budget – Consultant + 2 staff </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To develop prototypes & practices for interim product </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Best practices” replaced by actual user feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Developed new practices & shared results openly (Model II, structuration ) </li></ul><ul><li>Hopeful speculation : As socialization worked here , it may work in any Model I or Model II firm. </li></ul>
  9. 9. SW Dev Product Marketing Design Consultant 1. No UX competency. Initial team formed for project. SW Dev Product Marketing Design Consultant 2. Project connects team across departments. SW Dev Product Marketing UX Consultant 3. Project produces artifacts, starts sharing resources laterally to other projects. 4. Demand increases: Skill building, recruiting, & management follows. Project A Project B Project C Project A Project A UX Group
  10. 10. Practices in a Process World <ul><li>Practice development is often disrupted by well-meaning intervention of management, imposing best practices & “repeatable processes.” </li></ul><ul><li>New processes institutionalized by management are often “brittle,” compete for resources & standing </li></ul><ul><li>Direct learning & competency development at the front lines become strategic competencies that grow the firm and sustain its competitive position. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Practices socialized <ul><li>Build an organic demand & interest in the (UX) practice. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consult laterally to other projects as capacity builds. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collaborate with managers and other roles to integrate practice into business processes. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This ensures takeup by meeting common needs across lines / processes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provide awareness sessions, discussion, & education as needed to fit resources to the process. </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment and renewal, staffing, building competency. </li></ul>
  12. 12. “ Improv design” in the organizational laboratory Participation enacted in organization differently over time For rare, knowledge-based skillsets such as UX, design, research, or internal startups Leverages available resources with expert support (to plan, generate prototypes, etc.) Projects serves as autonomous testbeds, allowing refinement of practice until “sharing readiness”
  13. 14. Conclusions <ul><li>Socialization as macro-method for participatory organizational practice design </li></ul><ul><li>Leverages weak ties & generates strong demand among resources in an org network. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can develop “functionally similar” processes (e.g. UX) from unique, appropriate knowledge assets . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Follows a resource-based view of strategy: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A firm grows from its unique competencies, not copyable processes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competitive base formed from unique use of knowledge </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. Thank you <ul><li>Peter Jones </li></ul><ul><li>Redesign Research </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>University of Toronto </li></ul>
  15. 16. Empirically & Theoretically Relevant <ul><li>Organizations attempt to grow their markets </li></ul><ul><li>Driven to innovate, to create something new to compete </li></ul><ul><li>Requiring new skills & knowledge …. </li></ul>Penrose: The relationship between theory and history is not ‘‘an opposition’’ but one of ‘‘genuine complementarity,’’ descriptive, workable, not universal and pervasive.
  16. 17. Empirically & Theoretically Relevant <ul><li>Edith Penrose (1959) Theory of Growth of the Firm </li></ul><ul><li>‘‘ Experience . . . develops an increasing knowledge of the possibilities for action and the ways in which action can be taken by . . . the firm. This increase in knowledge . . . causes the productive opportunities of a firm to change . . . ’’ </li></ul>
  17. 18. Theoretical Support <ul><li>PD supports “organic” local co-management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Line-level responsibility for work practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Situated action / front line practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community of practice / learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Supported in organizational theory by </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Structuration (Giddens, Orlikowski) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning organizations (Argyris, Senge) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Action driven processes (Weick) </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. We must find new ways to lead. Conformer Culture Achiever Culture Role shift Risk & Vulnerability to learn Headroom for participation Systems, Structures, Processes Innovation Dependent Leadership Independent Leadership Interdependent Leadership From Center for Creative Leadership, 2008 The new ideal org culture is participatory. How to get there?
  19. 20. Participatory Relevance <ul><li>Lucy Suchman (2001) </li></ul><ul><li>‘‘… there are invariably participants who have an interest in thinking about what they’re doing, and whether it makes sense, and how it could be done differently. Often these people are first line supervisors. … They are people who really know the work and are in a position to take something of an overview, to reflect on how things are being done .” </li></ul>
  20. 21. Practices socialized <ul><li>A significant organizational need </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring rapid, lightweight methods to solve obvious problems. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have management present the success & lessons learned. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For any practice, determine needs across projects . Provide P2P (tactical) services as internal consultants. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop practices by meeting product needs. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage customers in the field & bring peers to observe. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cocreate user models in participatory design with other roles. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. Organization / Management / Employees Product Management Marketing Executive Management (Strategic Apex) Software Development Product Project Process People Project B: Supply Pipeline Project C: Online Education Project A: Retail Store Management Timeline 8-12 months 5-6 years 2 years 1 year Ongoing – people change roles Supply Released Online Ed Released 4-8 months 2-4 months Retail Product Started Retail Product Released Feedback cycle: User Experience Organizational Case Study
  22. 23. <ul><li>“ How to grow” is a strategic question </li></ul><ul><li>“ How should we grow sustainably” is a values question </li></ul><ul><li>“ How do we grow new practices?” is empirical . </li></ul>