Socio-technical Systems in Global Markets

 

Another problem is presented. A worker gets injured on a subcontractor’s job. We gather around the table dish out the blame. Everyone wants to point fingers. The operations manager blames inadequate funding while the safety engineer cites an inadequate preplanning process. Nothing gets resolved. The issue rackets up for a senior management decision. There’s a meeting to discuss the matter.  Someone leads out and says what can be done to prevent this problem.

 Numerous technical recommendations are offered. Standing up, I state, “Why don’t we ask the workers about this problem? Let’s get them involved so that they can help find the solution.” The room gets quiet. Finally, one senior manager suggests that we should take money away from the subcontractor, buy new technology, and fire the worker’s supervisor. Everyone agrees. After dealing with this same problem every month, I was hoping for a different answer. I was disappointed again.

 Why do we see managers make the same mistakes over and over and never want the day-to-day workers involved in the process? Executives are then shocked when their employees don’t buy-in on their latest management initiative. One of the reasons organizations do not reach peak performance is because managers do not create socio-technical systems to support organizational values.  We will discuss the concept of building socio-technical systems in global markets.

With fierce global competition and a need for a market advantage, I found it surprising that managers move toward the quick fixes like downsizing for short-term gain without analyzing the organization over the long-term. I am not suggesting that this approach is easy; however, I am declaring that over the long haul an organization will be a stronger institution in the process.  First, the concept of a socio-technical system is defined by the interdependence of humans and machines that operate in harmonious fashion. Eric Trist (1909-1993), a renowned researcher, is considered the architect of socio-technical systems. Being of British origin, he was the leading authority in organizational development. His research engaged the workers as one of the critical components to successful operations in high performance organizations.

Researcher William Fox maintains that socio-technical systems effectively blend both the technical and social systems of an organization:These two aspects must be considered interdependently, because arrangements that are optimal for one may not be optimal for the other and trade-offs are often required. Thus, for effective organization design, there is need for both dual focus and joint optimization.”  Therefore, an environment is created where these working parts can co-exist in this industrial system. 

 Since the industrial age, researchers have recognized that both technical and social factors impact organizational performance. Daniel Wren, author of The Evolution of Management Thought, concludes that analyzing a social system gives management an avenue to measure conflict between the “logic of efficiency” demanded  by the formal organization and  the “logic by sentiments” by the informal organization. In profit hunting, many businesses lose focus of the importance of socio-technical systems. Given these precepts, the questions for most managers become how to use this scholarly perspective in the practitioner’s avenue where time is money and money is time.

For next few weeks, we will discuss three practical applications so that socio-technical systems within organizations can support organizational values. These critical supporting mechanisms include a) value modeling, b) technology relevancy, and c) human factor buy-in.  I pray that emerging leaders will understand the implications of this concept with America’s fight to compete in global markets.

How can today’s organizations implement the concept of socio-technical systems, thereby overcoming institutional barriers?

    © 2010 by Daryl D. Green

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39 thoughts on “Socio-technical Systems in Global Markets

  1. I believe that the implementation of socio-technical systems must be put in place at a slow pace. The reason for this belief is that most people are not always welcome to change, therefore change must be incremental. By giving employees ample training on the new technology that the company is using employee will be more likely to understand what the technology does and how it will help their job performance. If employees believe that the new technology will help their productivity the more receptive they will be. Employees usually believe that they already have enough tasks on their plate so learning something new is not always appealing to them. If the company sets aside time to show the employees what the new technology does then the employees of the company will not think that it is just something else that they will have to do during the workday. By implementing a training course for employees the less amount of stress will be placed upon the worker and the better the chance of employee’s receipting the new technology.

    • Matt, you are brave to be first. But—-very good points!!!

      Interesting, you made several references to the pace of change. If market changes are swift, how do managers justify moving slowly on any possible innovations?

      • I agree that implementing new technological processes should be incremental, but I would not go so far as to say that they should be implemented slowly. It is imperative that a company that incorporates socio-technical systems into their process be able to keep up with the industry it is in. Therefore, I think the main focus should be on the amount of support that is provided to the employees who are going to be working with the new technology the company has decided to employ. According to Paul Wright, VP of Commercialization for Adtech, “the more complex a system is to run, the more direct support you need” (Wright). As long as the proper support is in place, training sessions could be limited and brief, without excessive employee hours spent. As was said in the original post, both the technical and social systems of an organization should be considered interdependently, as processes for one group could become counterproductive to the other. It would be prudent for any organization to implement new technology to improve their technical systems as long as they factor in the support and training that will need to be provided for the social system of the entity.

        WRIGHT, P. (2010). New technology is useless without being backed by sufficient support. New Media Age, 13. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.

  2. I think that society as a whole is beginning to accept the fact that technology is determining how companies, the service industry, manufacturing, production plants, the medical fedical and all other areas of operations are dependent on technology and that dependency will only increase over the next five years. However, individuals whose lively hood is jeopardized will not be so open to technology changes. When managment begins replacing workers with robotics becasue the overall cost will decrease due to non on-the-job injuries, lost sick days, vacation, and salary increases, then society will begin to see the negitive side of technology. The socio-technical machines for idefication will be in high demand by employers, but the individual workers will fear that development of future technology will eventually put them out of a job. Therefore they will be resistent to the new changes.

    • Angie, dynamic and insightful opinions!!!

      But—can you back it up with reliable evidence that this view is correct?

      Remember, everyone has an opinion. We are building our knowledge, based on facts!

  3. All organizations have boundaries of some kind, as do people. And those organizations that can effectively overcome those boundaries tend to have a competitive advantage in their industries. But I think that it must start with the employee’s at the most basic levels by management challenging and engaging those employees regularly. Anyone can get complacent and settle into positions, as can organizations. However, if management can spark interest through job enrichment techniques or job rotations, then employees are more likely to see the bigger picture and understand how technological advances can truly help the firm. It may even spark ideas in the employees that management hadn’t thought about. And the concept of engagement shouldn’t stop with employees. Management should constantly engage and challenge their processes for avenues of improvements.

    Reference:
    Motivation and Work Behavior by Richard M. Steers and Lyman W. Porte, 1991.

    • Landon, excellent!!! You make a good point about the people dimension.

      I hope we can go deeper. Now——–

      ATTENTION EVERYONE – Please back-up your opinions with facts, statistics, and other reliable information to support your claim in your text! We are building a community of knowledge seekers.

      You also need to list your references so that readers can follow up on your information.

      • In order to compete with today’s global market, I believe the implementation of the socio-technical system must be introduced within every structure of a work place. By this I mean the global market will not be slowing any time soon, and while change might be better at a slower pace considering the competition, I refer back to the article and quote “time is money and money is time.” I believe with today’s job market being slumped it will be quite easy to convince and train employees, seeing as how even among the average person competing for a job has become quite the task these days. I am firm in believing that an aggressive yet detailed approach to the use of socio-technical systems, will aid in the fast movement within the global market. It would also be wiser for managers to be more involved and participating along side their employees in order to assure the quality of business conducted as well as being in touch with what the employees face and do while trying to complete their job tasks. A faster more quick approach to the use of socio-technical system would be beneficial at the rate in which the global market is progressing. Competition is fierce and so should everyone else be. We are living in a world which is fast growing as well as technologically more and more developed. It should not be shocking to us to see these changes, however it would smart of us to go hand in hand with them.

        References

        Socio-Technical System in Global Markets by Daryl Green, 2010.

        Wikipedia
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociotechnical_systems. Retrieved 8/24/2010.

  4. I believe that in order for a company to survive and ultimately succeed they must adapt to the technology trend. The idea of socio-technical system is thought provoking. I agree that the only way a company can fully integrate a machine and human workforce is to get the input from the current employees. Ask the employees how they feel and what concerns they may have. There may be resistance due to the fact that many may lose their jobs if their duties are delegated to a computer or another type of automation. I immediately think of cashiers at grocery stores. The number of self-check stations is increasing leading to less cashier jobs. The same applies to gas stations. You need one person to be at the counter to push a few buttons if all you have are pumps and not a convenience store. The key is to engage the employees throughout the process of change. Explain to the employees that they are important to the company even if some change is necessary. That way they feel empowered in the company’s future plans. I believe we can have an environment where people and machines can work harmoniously together.

    References

    Socio-Technical System in Global Markets by Daryl Green, 2010.

    • I believe you are correct in stating that companies must adapt quickly to new technology in order to compete and survive in today’s market and that employees need to be involved in the process. Additionally, I feel it is vital for management to take the lead in incorporating any new process of sociotechnology within his or her department. After all, managers are suppose to be leaders of their people and therefore, “you manage things, you lead people” (1). In order to incorporate new ideas management has to set the example. This is accomplished by knowing and understanding the new information, explaining it in a way that is easily understood and implemented. Most importantly, the employees have to believe why this will benefit them and make their jobs more productive and profitable.

      Hunter, James C. (1998). The Servant. New York, New York: Crown Business

  5. The attitudes of management in the given example, are common in today’s workplace. “Just buy some new technology” is a common refrain, and often times planning how to integrate this technology into a human workforce is overlooked.

    Speaking as an IT professional, I can attest that technology is often seen as a “silver bullet” by management. Why then do a majority of IT projects fail?(1)

    Sociotechnical theory seems to point out the reason, suggesting that “optimization of each aspect alone (socio or technical) tends to increase not only the quantity of unpredictable, ‘un-designed’ relationships, but those relationships that are injurious to the system’s performance.”(2) Thus, pushing ahead too far and too fast with either the technology or human side of integration, can lead to inefficiencies and inequality between the two.

    (1)http://advice.cio.com/remi/two_reasons_why_it_projects_continue_to_fail

    (2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociotechnical_systems

  6. Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services launched their new child welfare management system this month (TFACTS). Subject matter experts were engaged in the creation of the user components and the Department touted stakeholder outreach and engagement and a proficient, trained user cohort. (Aguzzi, 2008). Users from all over the state, including private contracted providers, were involved with this careful, planned roll-out of this new socio-technical system which requires providers to input family service provisions and invoice for those services. But last week on a polycom, a provider was irate about the uncertainty and unreliability of this new system’s “readiness” to process invoices and pay the provider timely. So what happened? “In participative approaches all users are expected to contribute to and gain from any information system…encompass(ing) the socio-technological view, that for a system to be effective (it) must fit closely with the social and organizational factors.” (Avison, & Wood-Harper, 1991) The Department failed to recognize and contend for such serious unintended consequences. Buy-in is stifled. Implementation cannot overcome institutional barriers if the technology does not do what it was promised to do causing stakeholder frustration and even hostility. The technology must deliver as promised.

    Aguzzi, D. (2008). TFACTS project overview. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/goozer65/tfacts-general-information

    Avison, D.E., & Wood-Harper, A.T. (1991). Information systems development research: an exploration of ideas in practice. The Computer Journal, 34(2), 99.

  7. When trying to overcome institutional barriers it is important to know that this process is extremely slow. “Strategies should ideally be developed for implementation over a 15-20 year timescale (1). During this slow process, barriers are either removed by legislation or constant work by corporation’s to change the minds of shareholders. Managers must also find “effective approaches to implementation so they can reduce the severity of many barriers,” (1) for the short term as well as the long term barriers.

    Now that there is a plan to fight barriers, corporations still have to deal with IT project roll out. This task has proven to be very costly and complex. There are several reasons why task fail but I am going to focus on the lack of key skills and expertise. “The most common causes for IT failures are related to project management.” (2) When picking project management to unveil an IT roll out, it is crucial that their teams are made up of highly skilled, intelligent, and motivated teammates. Having the best talent in charge and around the project is the best way to help ensure success.

    1.Konsult, http://www.konsult.leeds.ac.uk/public/level1/sec10/index.htm
    2.Project Perfect, http://www.projectperfect.com.au/info_it_projects_fail.php
    Retrieved 8/27/10

  8. I totally agree that the technical system needs to be harmoniously engaged with the social system. (1) When employees don’t buy in management strategies, productivity and quality tend to suffer at the same time. One of the best ways to motivate employees and to be engaged in company directions is to listen to their ideas and suggestions for improvements. The improvements can range from a walking distance reduction on assembly lines by rearranging parts locations to a safety concerning improvement to avoid back strain by moving heavy parts to lower shelves for easier handling. When an idea is approved and given with the ownership, employees are even more motivated to implement it. Technology cannot think like human beings, but human beings can. It’s universal! Ohno Taichi, one of Toyota Production System innovators quoted that productivity relies on bringing up good workers not on designing best machine. Ohno also promoted Kaizen (continuous improvement) to improve operations continuously always driving for innovation and evolution by workers. (2)

    References
    (1) Socio Technical Systems and Lean Manufacturing–How the two relate.
    http://www.strategosinc.com/socio-technical.htm
    (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Production_System

    I’ve also found a conference to be held in Vancouver this fall…
    Global Conference: 2010 STS Roundtable Annual Conference.
    “Designing the Next Horizon of Socio-Technical Systems within a Dynamic World”. Vancouver, BC
    September 29-October 2, 2010
    http://www.stsroundtable.com

  9. I personally agree with having the employees involved in the equasoins of the management problem solving issues when it involves the employees. I can speak from experience from my military career. I once had two commanding officers get seriously injured and hospitalized because they felt that they knew what was best for them and that they knew what they were doing. But the truth of the matter is we where the ones that was trainig day in and day our with these tools and equipment (in this case it was explodives). They are truely blessed that theyas well as others was not killed.
    The point is, those who are doing the work daily, they would be a key assest in assisting the managers with recommendations on how to effectively and efficiently do day to day work tasks.

  10. The stable and sustained growth of socio-technical systems is reliant on ultimately generating profit. An obvious barrier to the implementation of these systems could be a short-sighted view in upper management. Executives concerned with their quarterly bonus and shareholder figures could hesitate to allocate the capital necessary to effectively implement a productive socio-technical system that would prove profitable in the long-term. This leaves early adopters who are able to create an improved work design through careful task analysis and effective socio-technical systems a competitive advantage. (Hazy, 2006) An efficient system will not happen overnight. Bottlenecks in operations must be stream-lined, and performance must be evaluated constantly. With the identification of dependencies and respect of all parties, socio-technical systems will be able to meet all stakeholders’ goals. (Bryl, Giorgini, & Mylopoulos)

    References:
    Bryl, V, Giorgini, P, & Mylopoulos, J. (n.d.). Designing socio-technical systems: from stakeholder goals to social networks. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/

    Hazy, J.K. (2006). Measuring leadership effectiveness in complex socio-technical systems. E:CO, 8(3), Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lmunet.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&hid=17&sid=b596da2d-caa5-43df-a28b-f512f3729133%40sessionmgr104

  11. I believe that the senior management of a company would need to look at its industry to see if the imperative challenge of a company would be benefit for them or not because some businesses have to stick with their old fashion way as a main business strategy in the market. According to the book of success made simple by Erik Wesner, it emphasized the success factor of Amish business in description of “There’s nothing like going back to basics when the world around you is changing.”
    If it is required to change, senior management would need to set up for a short term plan and long term plan, which will be amendable, adjustable, and flexible at the same time. In order to settle down their own ways, sometime they would need to research other companies’ examples good and bad, and after that making a new socio-technical system to be fit in the company, which follows its goal and vision in the market.
    Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive by Erik Wesner, 2010

  12. Excellent points by all!

    THIS IS A CALL TO THE CRITICAL THINKERS:

    I just wonder what this thread would look like if it was conversational. I would suggest that you read the other comments (submitted previously) and built from there. Do you agree or disagree? Does it make sense? Is it logical? What can be added? How can you add value to what has been already stated? We can do this activity without disrespecting each other (I won’t let this happen anyway)!!!

    We are building a base of knowledge. Interacting with this community is important!!!!

    Let’s talk in a discussion mode as educated people instead of opinionated people with no passion or facts!

  13. Based on most of you guy’s response, I agree with you that Socio-technology is good in every aspect. However, some of you say it should be harmoniously, slowly or incrementaly implemented. I disagree with this because I think the pace of implementation is determined by the market that organization is in. Example. Wal-Mart gets self checkout machines so Krogers will have to soon get self checkout machines to keep up with the market’s pace. Also, i think there is no perfect pace of implementaion because there is always going to be that one employee who just likes it the way it is and is reluctant to change. Based on my understanding of Eric Crawford’s post, he said the best way to deal with this is “to engage the employees throughout the process of change. Explain to the employees that they are important to the company even if some change is necessary. That way they feel empowered in the company’s future plans.” I disagree with this as I think it may be misleading as technology may just replace them in the near future. However, I agree with Megan Rhyne on having a strong support plan in place. This will make the implementation easier on the employee and on customers.

  14. While I agree that change is not always welcome – I think the following concepts would help in implementing socio-technical systems within a given organization:

    • When a process issue is identified, act swiftly to find a cause and corrective action. Leadership dragging its feet will look like they are not fully behind their own “ideas.”
    • Involve the workers on the ground floor or in the areas of concern. Who knows better what could be needed than the people who work with the equipment/processes on a daily basis? Help lead employees to understanding what is needed and why in the beginning stages.
    • Determine how changes to one process could impact another process above or below stream.
    • Complete manager/leadership buy in. If the leadership of a company do not fully back a concept, how can they expect employees to buy into it? Example: I worked as a safety coordinator for a company. The facility manager claimed 100% backing in any safety concerns/corrective measures. One out of 5 major safety issues was funded. Said Facility Manager did not always wear prescribed safety gear in the shop (ear plugs, steel toe boots, safety glasses). Said manager never managed to make it to the mandatory safety meetings.
    • Help lead employees to understanding what is needed and why during the rollout stages as well.
    • Thorough training of employees on any aspect. Many workers are still of the age that computer/technology of today is foreign to them. People like to stick to what is comfortable or what is familiar.
    • Follow through and follow-up…

  15. Agreed socio-technical systems (STS) is good in most and all aspects. However, technology is not slow and if implementation of a socio-technology is implemented slowly then competitors may be passing you by. Which could lead to a vicious cycle of always trying to catch up. The question companies should ask themselves is ‘How do we employ the right people and the right technology at the right time?’.

    I believe we all agree on involving all employees regardless of title (seems we have all been in that situation). I know I have said numerous times “What do I know? I just work here”. In some and most cases, management would be surprised in the feedback they would receive from workers with some involvement. Social interactions could open a window of knowledge to help achieve short and/or long term objectives. Also, a critical and reflective attitude is required toward socio-technical systems development approaches. Certainly, socio-technical practice has sensitized professionals to the significance and diversity of human attitudes toward innovation (Avgerou 2007).

    Reference:
    Avgerou, C. (2007). MIS Quarterly: Power, Rationality, and the Art of Living Through Socio-Technical Change, 31 (2), 295-315.

  16. Socio-technical system theorists advocate the importance of joint-optimization in effective, organizational design. Joint-optimization, a word coined by Emery, has a very specific meaning here. It holds that the most effective arrangement within human organizations will be those that integrate the demands of both technical and social aspects of interactions. In this sense, socio-technical system design is aimed at the full utilization of both technical and human resources in workplace. In order to achieve this objective, the original focus was on the introduction of semi-autonomous work groups, which were capable of self-regulating in terms of technical and social requirements. These semi-autonomous work groups, precursors of today’s self-directed work teams, were facilitated through a program of action research. Through this action research intervention, the quality of work life including job satisfaction, morale and productivity were significantly improved (Zhao, Steier 1993).

    As cited in the excerpt above, successful implementation of socio- technical systems can occur through action research. The reason for this is that through action research, to obtain the goal of implementation, an organization can continually set implementation goals and re question/ re evaluate if the proper goals are being reached. There are three main levels in implementing socio technical systems they are individual, group, and organization. By reassessing whether each one of those levels have been successfully implemented and achieved, and through action research, the frame work for reaching a socio technical system will be laid down.
    Reference: Baizhong Zhao, Frederick Steier(May- June 1993), Industrial Management

  17. There are many ways companies today can implement the concept of socio-technical systems because there are so many new technologies out there to utilize. Many companies have already found ways to implement this through their POS system. Now the operations of finalizing a sale can be more efficient through the new debit card systems where customers swipe their card instead of writing a check. There is still a cashier (even at the USCAN counters), but it works together with new technologies to speed up the POS operations. This is an example of why implementing Socio-Technical systems would be beneficial to both the company and the consumer. However, when implementing socio-technical systems a company must analyze all aspects of the system and make sure to have a secondary plan. In most new socio-technical systems, people cannot replace the functions of the technology and if the technology goes down, replacements can be very costly. This is why it is important to have a back-up plan with socio-technical systems. However, in the long term having these systems in place can be very beneficial to the entire operations of the company.

    Reference: Whitworth, B. (2009). Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems. Retrieved from http://cs.umd.edu

  18. The socio-technical system provides business operations the most optimal environment of integrating workers, machinery, and corporate culture. As stated in external readings, “ New technologies may be able to solve some problems, but they may also create new ones” If not properly implemented, mechanism has the capacity to decrease productivity and interfere with business operations if the machines are not correctly interwoven into the corporate structure. Many companies make the mistake of relying solely on the introduction of machinery to boost operations without thoroughly familiarizing their employees for a smoother transition. Seeing these are the people that will be in most contact with the new technology, it is important to ensure there is chemistry and the new machinery will add value to their job rather than make their jobs more complicated. In addition to making sure employees are properly trained, companies have a responsibility to increase integration between managers and employees. Communication among the various levels of a company is directly correlated to the success of the company. Those who ignore employee concerns are doomed for failure. By implementing these steps, companies can effectively implement socio-technical systems while adding significant value to the firm.

    Kemp, R. & Schot, J. (1998) Regime Shifts to Sustainability Through Processes of Niche Formation: The
    Approach of Strategic Niche Management. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 10(2), 175-195.

  19. Cleavland,

    I am in full agreement with your eloquent response. I am in a position to consider corporate culture when their has been a failure by “corporate” to provide my staff and I with this “value-added” approach. We are in a position to feel under-valued and I feel this is a great point for myself to advocate for the technology users to improve the relationship between the “users” and the prime benefactors – “corporate.” Thanks again!

  20. When looking into operational system improvement management must ask is this a beneficial upgrade and what will the perceived value be to the customer, employee or both?

    A Knoxville bank highlights a well embraced social technology system that is used by their clients to access their safety deposit box. This system allows the bank’s customer to enter their safety deposit boxes without additional assistance from a bank employee. Depending upon the traffic flow of the center this could require a lengthy wait time for the customer to access the box. In this socio technology system the wait time is eliminated and the customer could possibly gain access to their safety deposit box and be finished in less time than it would take to wait on a financial center employee to finish
    The vault-entry procedure is simple:
    1) Customer enters his PIN number
    2) Customer places his hand on the biometric reader
    3) The system unlocks the vault day gate and allows the customer entry if the customer’s PIN number and the customer’s pre-recorded biometric data are verified
    Once the customer has entered the vault, the day gate automatically and gently closes and relocks. The customer can easily unlock the gate from inside with the simple turn of a handle.*

    Result: time savings to both the customer and the employee.

    Reference:
    http://safeandvault.com/index.php/vaults-a-doors/self-serve-deposit

  21. Since we mostly agree that process improvements using socio-technology is necessary and beneficial, the issue is then how to pull management onto the platform. The best avenue I can think of to effectively implement socio-technological changes in a manufacturing environment would be through a Lean leadership platform. One fundamental basis of Lean is in the top down approach that is necessary and crucial to sustain change that mirrors the company’s needs and the Lean approach.
    It appears that most of us believe the largest barriers in developing processes that use the theory of socio-technology is the lack of leadership support and the fear of misusing it and seeing no benefit. This is where Lean culture will connect management to the process and eliminate these obstacles.
    A properly lead Lean culture can be the conduit for front line supervisors and process owners to provide relevant input to the process of developing social interfaces with machinery and standard procedures. The foundation of Lean is the stability and reliability of manning, machinery, material, and methodology. This is where most firms fail when trying to jump into socially integrating technology with their process – be it manufacturing, service, or procedural. They are introducing significant change to what may be an unstable process which will lead to unpredictable results. These unfavorable results will unfortunately result in reluctant lower level participation in the future and upper level support. For instance, if a manager proposes an automatic data collection station be implemented to replace a manually entered data system, he better make sure the data is still relevant and needed. If not, then the exercise will be found to be a completely irrelevant also. We should always rely on a good stable process to dictate areas needing machine-to-man interaction improvements and the tool to accomplish should use socio-technology theory . Lean implementation within even the most regimented operation takes years so, I also agree that incremental change is best.
    Reference:
    http://www.tpmonline.com/Articles%20on%20Leadership/TheHumanSide1.htm

  22. With today’s rapid changing business environment it is crucial for organizations to incorporate socio-technical systems (STS) in their workplace. Research by Eric Trist show engaging workers is one of the important components for successful operations in organizations.
    James C. Taylor, a professor and an expert in work design and systems management says that STS is based on understanding “what business we’re really in; and what joint optimizations between social and technical requirements are needed to excel at that business.” Dr. Taylor describes 5 basic steps involved in implementing the STS methodology in which at each of steps 2-5 feedback and dialogue will demand that preceding decisions be reconsidered and often changes.
    1st step– is to scan the systems where you create shared vision of the organization
    2nd step- technical systems analysis that describes what happens to the organization’s product as it passes through the system and identifies the variances that occur at state changes in the process.
    3rd step- key variance analysis that examines how the organizational system currently copes with or controls these key variances.
    4th step- social systems analysis that examines who talks to whom about key variances, the organizational environment, and other long-term matters.
    5th step- redesign where new organizational design is created and tested.
    STS approaches the work system from its purpose and is seen on an understandable scale by looking at the activities of an organization in terms of the output and how it is created and delivered rather than as a complex collection of tasks.

    Reference:
    Terlaga, R. (1994). Minimizing the risks in reengineering: A socio-technical approach. Information Strategy: The Executive’s Journal, 11(1), 6.

  23. Cynicism can have a drastic and long-term impact on any organization. For many, it has – quite literally – become their most latent and silent enemy. With this mindset, employees will knowingly or even willingly allow organizational endeavors to fail; that is, if they are not actually sabotaging them. Thus, more important than engaging employees, as Ms. Garrett pointed out, is educating them. A perception espoused by Mr. Stevens further accentuates this point. He indicated that executives give pause to socio-technical considerations to weigh the outputs of quarterly bonuses and shareholder’s figures. While this is true, it can be rather misleading.

    Chief level executives are tasked with ensuring shareholder value, and they are measured on the return of their investment funds. This is a very critical aspect of organizational sustainability. A poorly conceived idea or an ill-advised decision, at this level, can quickly lead to the health of an organization deteriorating. This is why it is absolutely essential that employees understand the bigger picture. However, for them to do this, they must be educated concerning the markets, shareholder value, competitive advantage, and sustainability. This would empower organizational leaders to better manage misconceptions, employee related tensions, and cynicism. From here, a clearer vision emerges and employees will be more willing to act collaboratively towards a common goal or purpose.

    References

    Hazy, J. (2006). Measuring leadership effectiveness in complex socio-technical systems. Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 8(3), 58-77. Retrieved from the Business Source Premier database.

  24. Organizations consist of two interdependent systems, technical and social. Since they are interdependent one cannot survive without the other. It is important to acknowledge the roles technology serves for organizations: 1) it is a management tool; 2) it becomes part of the organizations infrastructure once implemented; and 3) it is a catalyst for organizational change. In order to increase efficiency, organizations strive to standardize information and work processes. Most organizations recognize that behaviors influence technology implementation and outcomes. Employees can benefit the organization through input that customizes technology and provides competitive advantage ensuring longevity for the company. If employees are empowered and have trust in their organization they are more likely to engage in these activities and employee efficiency also increases in part due to their own job satisfaction. Employees with knowledge about corporate processes and who are empowered will fill confident in and help with policy development, objective and goal communication that will generate buy-in to new technology. What I didn’t see mentioned in the other posts is that a company’s culture can be an institutional barrier. Organizations must create cultures that create trust and their leaders must not loose sight of the company mission and be an example of fulfilling this mission. If employees are lucky enough to work in this type of culture and their input and value is embraced, this can be a win-win. In the best of circumstances implementing this type of culture and technology change is not always a fast process. Bill Gates was once quoted saying we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.

    Extending the Technology Enactment Framework – Alexander Schellong

  25. A Knoxville bank highlights a well embraced social technology system that is used by their clients to access their safety deposit box. This system allows the bank’s customer to enter their safety deposit boxes without additional assistance from a bank employee. Depending upon the traffic flow of the center this could require a lengthy wait time for the customer to access the box. In this socio technology system the wait time is eliminated and the customer could possibly gain access to their safety deposit box and be finished in less time than it would take to wait on a financial center employee to finish with their current task.

    The vault-entry procedure is simple:
    1) Customer enters his PIN number
    2) Customer places his hand on the biometric reader
    3) The system unlocks the vault day gate and allows the customer entry if the customer’s PIN number and the customer’s pre-recorded biometric data are verified

    Once the customer has entered the vault, the day gate automatically and gently closes and relocks. The customer can easily unlock the gate from inside with the simple turn of a handle.*

    Result: time savings to both the customer and the employee.

    Reference:
    http://safeandvault.com/index.php/vaults-a-doors/self-serve-deposit

  26. Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services launched their new child welfare management system this month (TFACTS). Subject matter experts were engaged in the creation of the user components and the Department touted stakeholder outreach and a proficient, trained user cohort. Users from all over the state were involved with this careful, planned roll-out of this new socio-technical system which requires providers to input family service provisions and invoice for those services. Last week on a polycom, a provider was irate about the uncertainty and unreliability of this new system’s “readiness” to process invoices and pay the provider timely. “In participative approaches all users are expected to contribute to and gain from any information system…encompass(ing) the socio-technological view, that for a system to be effective (it) must fit closely with the social and organizational factors.” (Avison, & Wood-Harper, 1991) The Department failed to contend for serious unintended consequences. Buy-in is stifled. Implementation cannot overcome institutional barriers if the technology does not do what it was promised to do causing stakeholder frustration and even hostility.

    Avison, D.E., & Wood-Harper, A.T. (1991). Information systems development research: an exploration of ideas in practice. The Computer Journal, 34(2), 99.

  27. Employees directly affected by the organizational change must be actively consulted in the design and implementation of new task systems and new managerial structure (Coleflesh & Margulies). I think Coleflesh and Margulies have a great point and that the employees involved need to feel like they’re apart of the change and that their inputs matter to the company, People do grow up but some things do not change and that’s people’s desire to be forced to do some thing. If a company “forces” its employees to accept the change based on the “because I said so” excuse then like teenagers the employees will rebel and not accept the new system.

    http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lmunet.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?hid=11&sid=d5e590a4-be7c-41ea-b696-53a87d2d204f%40sessionmgr110&vid=12

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