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Manual Work Domain Analysis: Concepts, Guidelines, and Cases

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This paper therefore examines the capacity of current frameworks for work analysis and design to meet this objective, focusing on cognitive work analysis CWA. Following that, the integrated system design approach is presented, which extends CWA with the intent of meeting this critical goal. A strong case has already been made that the fundamental objective in designing complex sociotechnical systems should be that of promoting successful adaptation Rasmussen, ; Rasmussen et al.

This thesis, which manifests widely in one form or another e. First, complex sociotechnical systems are by and large open systems, characterized by changing or dynamic conditions Ashby, ; Emery and Trist, ; Perrow, ; Gerson and Star, ; Rasmussen, ; Rasmussen et al. This instability may result from regular perturbations, either within the system e. Moreover, these systems may have to contend with novel circumstances, or events that cannot be fully predicted a priori, such as a new kind of military threat Reich et al. These systems, therefore, must be capable of continuously and reliably dealing with significant variability in their work environments.

Studies of complex sociotechnical systems have also demonstrated that the greatest threats to these systems' effectiveness are posed by unanticipated events e. Moreover, as these situations are unfamiliar to workers, they cannot simply retrieve a suitable solution from their portfolios of prior experiences. Instead, workers must respond flexibly and creatively to deal with these situations successfully e.

Aside from dealing with unexpected events, adaptations are necessary regularly, or even routinely, in everyday situations Simon, ; Gerson and Star, ; Rasmussen, ; Suchman, ; Weick, ; Rasmussen et al. Even small changes in context may require adaptation Vicente, , and it is not possible to formulate an algorithm, plan, or procedure for every single complication Hoffman and Woods, , even if it were safe to do so Dekker, Thus everyday work requires ongoing local adjustments or improvisations to accommodate the inevitable flux that arises in the system Bigley and Roberts, ; Rankin et al.

Another significant observation is that adaptations are important not just for safety but also for organizational productivity and workers' health Vicente, In computerized workplaces, where routine tasks are typically automated, system success can hinge on the capacity of workers to conjure up innovative solutions to emerging problems for which algorithms have not been, or cannot be, written.

Furthermore, it has long been recognized that workers with greater decision latitude tend to have better health, as indicated by such factors as longevity and the absence of stress or disease Karasek and Theorell, ; Vicente, ; Eason, Such workers have the autonomy to decide how to manage their work demands, including the ability to improvise or adapt in doing their jobs, and to follow their individual preferences when it is appropriate to do so. Finally, while the importance of adaptation in the workplace is clear, it is also evident that ongoing adaptation to changing situations and unforeseen circumstances can be demanding Rasmussen, ; Rasmussen et al.

The context or conditions under which adaptation is required, as it is experienced by workers, is usually exacting, involving multiple, conflicting goals, significant time pressure, many unexpected turns of events, and considerable stress stemming from the awareness of the potentially disastrous consequences of failure. Furthermore, adaptation can be an intellectually or cognitively challenging exercise, involving very complex reasoning under demanding conditions Rasmussen et al. Typically, workers must make rapid decisions about whether, when, and how to adapt in light of their judgments of the local conditions, awareness of the broader organizational goals and constraints, and assessments of the risks and opportunities this context presents Dekker, Workers, therefore, should not have to—or be expected to—adapt in an ad hoc manner, using technology or workplace designs that do not support or, worse still, deliberately inhibit improvisation, as is so often the case Vicente, ; Eason, Aside from placing, quite unnecessarily and unfairly, an increased burden on workers who are already working under very demanding conditions, this situation could lead or contribute to unsafe or unproductive outcomes.

Instead, workers should be provided with systematic support through the system design, including the design of technology, training, and procedures, to help them in adapting seamlessly and successfully to the unexpected and changing demands of their jobs Rasmussen, ; Rasmussen et al. If we are to design systems that facilitate successful adaptation, a key question that arises is what manner of adaptations are needed in the workplace, and thus should be deliberately supported through design.

The following studies demonstrate the importance of both behavioral and structural adaptation to system effectiveness. Greater emphasis is placed on illustrating the nature of structural adaptation in the workplace, since existing analysis and design approaches are limited in supporting this form of adaptation, as discussed in more detail later in this paper. Empirical studies of workers in complex sociotechnical systems reveal that one form of adaptation that occurs entails actors adapting their behavior, or effectively adjusting their tasks, plans, goals, actions, or priorities in step with the unfolding situation.

Bigley and Roberts provide a detailed account of the improvisations they observed during a field study of a large fire department employing the incident command system, a widespread approach for emergency management in the United States of America. They categorized the improvisations as involving tools, rules, and routines. When a truck arrives at the scene of an emergency, for instance, personnel may have no choice but to improvise with the tools available on the truck, employing them in unusual ways to handle the situation.

In other cases, the adaptations may include departures from rules, directly breaching standard operating procedures. As an example, one procedure prohibits firefighting teams from approaching a fire from opposite positions, as one group can push the fire into another. According to Bigley and Roberts, such improvisations are regarded as legitimate within the organization, provided they are consistent with organizational goals and are unlikely to harm personnel or other people.

Observations of behavioral adaptation in the workplace have also been documented in a number of other contexts. Goteman and Dekker , for example, discuss how commercial pilots shed tasks when confronted with demanding circumstances, postponing some jobs until the situation becomes more manageable. Similarly, Militello et al.

Finally, within a health care context, Bogdanovic et al. Further to such adaptations in workers' activities, empirical studies provide considerable evidence for structural adaptation, whereby multiple actors are involved in adjusting their structure or organization in line with the emerging situation.

As a result, the particular actors involved and their roles and relationships may be constantly changing. A potent example is provided by Rochlin et al. Rochlin et al. Typically, this organizational structure governs operations on the ship. During complex operations, however, Rochlin et al.

This organizational structure may be described as informal, given that it is not officially documented. The informal organization is flat and distributed rather than hierarchical and centralized. For instance, based on their access to information, lower-ranked personnel have the autonomy to make critical decisions without the approval of officials with higher rankings, especially when faced with significant time constraints. The informal organization is also flexible in that there is no pre-specified plan for when it will be adopted.

Moreover, the specific organizational structure that is adopted on any one occasion is emergent, such that there is no simple or fixed mapping between people and roles and therefore no single informal organization. Instead, the work organization on the ship adapts to changes in circumstances. According to Rochlin et al. Bigley and Roberts's observations of a fire department employing the incident command system for emergency management echo many of Rochlin et al.

At one level, this system is highly formalized with an extensive set of policies, procedures, and instructions. Jobs are specialized and have very particular training requirements. In addition, positions within the system are arranged hierarchically and reflect formal authority relationships. Objectives and plans are established near the top of the hierarchy and serve as a basis for guiding decisions and behaviors at lower levels.

Nevertheless, as Bigley and Roberts discovered, the fire department consistently employs a number of mechanisms for rapidly converting this rigid organizational structure into highly flexible arrangements suitable for dealing with the specific emergencies encountered. Bigley and Roberts describe these mechanisms as involving structure elaborating, role switching, authority migration, and system resetting.

Structure elaborating describes the process of organization construction at the scene of an incident, with the first captain arriving becoming the incident commander, at least temporarily. After assessing the situation and developing an initial plan, the incident commander begins to build an organization by assigning roles and tasks to incoming resources, a process which may continue until the emergency shows signs of subsiding.

Pre-existing roles or positions within the incident command system are filled with people only to the extent required, perhaps with more positions becoming filled as the situation unfolds. Furthermore, some functions may not be assigned to specialized positions until it is necessary to do so, with personnel already established in particular positions being responsible for multiple functions in the meantime.

Role switching sums up the observation that positions continue to be activated and relationships established in line with the emerging situation. In addition, positions are deactivated when the appropriate role structure for an emergency changes, and personnel are either shifted into different positions or discharged. Authority migration recognizes that although formal authority relationships remain fixed, informal decision-making authority can migrate rapidly to personnel possessing the most relevant expertise. Thus senior personnel may defer to lower-level experts who are more technically qualified given the specific characteristics of the emergency, temporarily shifting authority to them.

Lastly, system resetting involves disengaging or regrouping. When the current approach appears to be having no effect or is found to be unsuitable because of unexpected occurrences, the team is withdrawn from the situation and reconfigured or redirected. Finally, Bogdanovic et al. According to Bogdanovic et al. While the delegation of some tasks are determined by team members' professions, such as whether one is an anesthetist, nurse, or surgeon, tasks that can be fulfilled by any person are not assigned in advance but are delegated dynamically throughout the surgery, depending on the circumstances.

Some options for the task distribution in view of the anticipated challenges may be contemplated before surgery. However, if unforeseen complications arise, new arrangements are conceived and instituted at the time. A specific reason tasks may be redistributed during surgery is that problems emerge for which a team member does not possess the necessary skills. Thus a senior physician may take over a step of the procedure initially assigned to someone else.

Another possibility is that the procedure itself may need to be altered because of the specific problems encountered, such that the steps of the revised procedure must be reassigned among team members. Team members will also assist their colleagues to balance the workload within the group. An anesthetist, for example, may help the scrub nurse if the circulating nurse is busy.

Lastly, the task distribution may change as a result of additional resources being mobilized for the task at hand. For instance, due to unforeseen complications during surgery, it may be necessary to call a more experienced clinician for help. The preceding discussion has clear implications for system design. First, designing for adaptation is essential so that workers can handle a wide variety of events, including both routine and novel ones, effectively. Moreover, workers must be supported in adapting both their behavior and structure, effortlessly and seamlessly.

It is important to recognize that changes in behavior may or may not be associated with changes in structure. In addition, changes in structure may be associated with behavioral opportunities not available to workers otherwise. Irrespective of these fine distinctions, designing for adaptation must encompass the behavioral and structural possibilities comprehensively if we are to create systems that are resilient in the face of instability and uncertainty.

Evidently, systems are comprised of multiple elements, which must work together in concert in view of a common purpose. Consequently, the aforementioned objectives cannot be achieved by focusing on the design of individual elements, such as the interfaces, teams, training, or automation.


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In the context of promoting worker adaptation, the need for integrated system design was emphasized by Vicente He observes that designing for adaptation cannot be achieved in a piecemeal fashion. That is, a system will not necessarily be adaptive simply because it has an ecological interface, even though such interfaces are intended to support adaptation Rasmussen and Vicente, ; Vicente and Rasmussen, , Instead, to create systems that can adapt successfully, all of the different elements must be designed in a coordinated manner based on a common philosophy, specifically a philosophy focused on promoting adaptation.

Naikar echoes these observations, recognizing in particular that a system will not necessarily be adaptive solely on the basis of its team design, even if that is intended to engender flexibility Naikar et al. In this paper, we elaborate on these ideas by taking into account the empirical observations described above. To create adaptive systems, the design of multiple elements must be integrated based on a common philosophy that promotes both structural and behavioral adaptation.

It is also clear that to preserve a system's inherent capacity for adaptation to novelty, the designs of the different elements must support the full range of opportunities for structural and behavioral adaptation in the workplace and that they must do so uniformly across multiple actors in the system.

Thus, if a team design supports possibilities for structural or behavioral adaptation that an interface design does not, the design of the two elements would not be integrated, or compatible, with respect to the goal of promoting adaptation. Similarly, if an interface design for an actor or group of actors in a system supports possibilities for adaptation that are not recognized or accommodated by the interface designs for other actors in the system, such that some or all of the possibilities cannot be realized by any of the actors, the design of this element would not be integrated across multiple actors in the system.

Such approaches would not necessarily foster successful performance in the event of change or novelty, and they might even inhibit it. Moreover, as demonstrated later, simply approaching the design of multiple elements concurrently with the philosophy of promoting worker adaptation may be insufficient to achieve this level of integration. Rather, the design framework must encompass explicit mechanisms for binding or anchoring the designs of multiple elements, so that the system design supports the range of possibilities for adaptation in structure and behavior, across multiple actors, in a coherent fashion.

Designing for adaptation requires special approaches for work analysis, as the way in which the work demands of a system are understood is tightly integrated with how those work demands are supported through design. As is well established now, work analysis techniques may be differentiated on the basis of whether they are normative, descriptive, or formative in orientation Rasmussen, ; Vicente, The following discussion demonstrates briefly that normative approaches are unsuitable for designing for adaptation, whereas descriptive approaches are insufficient.


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  5. Instead, a formative approach is necessary. Normative approaches, such as task analysis techniques that define sequences or timelines of tasks Kirwan and Ainsworth, , are concerned with specifying the ideal ways in which to perform work under particular conditions. However, in open systems, which are subject to situational variability, the anticipated conditions may never match the conditions that are experienced precisely, such that the recommended task sequences or procedures may not in fact be the most productive or safest way of handling the situation.

    Moreover, removing autonomy from workers in deciding the best way of performing a task or in following their individual preferences when it is appropriate to do so may be counterproductive for workers' health and ultimately for organizational productivity. Descriptive approaches, such as some of those described in Schraagen et al.

    On this basis, designs can be developed that support workers in handling these challenges more effectively and that accommodate the variability in work practices observed in everyday work. One limitation of such approaches, however, is that the resulting appreciation of cognitive challenges and viable cognitive strategies is generally constrained to familiar, recurring, or anticipated conditions, which can be studied or observed.

    The capacity of such approaches to support adaptation to unforeseen events, then, is limited to the extent to which the existing challenges and strategies are relevant to the novel conditions. Descriptive techniques, therefore, must be complemented with a formative approach to work analysis, and CWA offers a suitable starting point. CWA is a comprehensive framework for modeling the work demands on actors in terms of the constraints, or boundaries, that must be upheld by their actions irrespective of the particular conditions they are faced with Rasmussen, ; Rasmussen et al.

    Thus this framework is concerned with the constraints that are applicable not only in familiar, recurring, and anticipated situations but also in situations that cannot be predicted a priori. Although these constraints must be observed or respected for effective performance, such that they bound the possibilities for action available to actors, within these constraints actors still have many degrees of freedom for action, as indicated by the trajectories in Figure 1.

    Therefore, using this framework, designs can be developed that deliberately provide actors with the flexibility to adapt their work practices to a wide range of situations without crossing the boundaries of successful performance. In contrast to normative and descriptive approaches, then, which focus on specifying how work should be done ideally or is done currently in a system, CWA is a formative approach that is concerned with specifying the constraints that bound how work can be done effectively.

    Figure 1. Within the constraints on successful performance, actors have many possibilities for action. The CWA framework comprises five dimensions, which are concerned with different types of constraints Table 1. These dimensions collectively define a constraint-based space, such as that illustrated in Figure 1 , in relation to the system of interest.

    As shown in Table 1 , each CWA dimension has special modeling tools for capturing and representing the various constraints on actors. In the current CWA framework, the social organization and cooperation dimension takes advantage of the modeling tools from the preceding dimensions Rasmussen et al. However, in this paper the diagram of work organization possibilities WOP is introduced as a special modeling tool for this analysis. Considerable empirical evidence exists for the value of CWA for design, specifically in relation to ecological interface design, a framework that utilizes CWA as a basis for designing interfaces for workers in complex sociotechnical systems Rasmussen and Vicente, ; Vicente and Rasmussen, , For example, as documented in existing reviews Vicente, ; Naikar, , controlled experiments have demonstrated the value of ecological interface design for process control Christoffersen et al.

    Collectively, the results of these studies demonstrate that ecological interface design can be applied to a range of systems and that, for those systems, this framework can uncover novel information requirements that can lead to better performance by workers in comparison with that obtained with existing interfaces. The value of CWA for problems other than interface design has also been demonstrated.

    Detailed industrial case studies have shown, for example, that CWA can be used for selecting system designs Naikar and Sanderson, , designing teams Naikar et al. As these applications of CWA were executed in industrial settings, experimental investigations were unfeasible. However, the value of CWA for these applications was demonstrated on the basis of its ability to impact practice, its uniqueness in comparison with the design outcomes obtainable with conventional approaches, and its feasibility of implementation within a project's schedule, personnel, and financial resources Naikar, These criteria are more commonly applied for assessing worth in industrial practice Whitefield et al.

    While it is clear that CWA can support adaptation, in this paper we observe that this framework has two, related, limitations that could restrict a system's inherent capacity for adaptation Figure 2. The first has to do with the capacity of this framework to support adaptations in the work organization, or structural adaptation.

    The second concerns its capacity to facilitate the integration of multiple system elements to produce an integrated system design. Figure 2. CWA supports adaptation but limits the possibilities for action available to workers, thus restricting a system's inherent capacity for adaptation. One reason that CWA is limited in its capacity to promote adaptation is that although this framework can support actors in adapting their behavior, in its current form it does not necessarily support actors in adapting their structure, especially in unforeseen situations.

    Yet, as the empirical studies described earlier in this paper and elsewhere show, adaptations in the work organization are also critical for successful performance. The fundamental texts on CWA by Rasmussen et al. Thus they point out that the social organization and cooperation dimension of CWA must be concerned with the various organizational structures that are relevant. Moreover, the texts observe that shifts in structure are governed by such criteria as the competencies of actors, the access actors have to information or the means for action, the requirements for safety and reliability, the need for compliance with policies and regulations, the requirements for workload sharing, and the need for minimizing coordination demands.

    However, neither text offers a formative approach for analyzing the work organization. Instead, the suggested approach seems descriptive in orientation as it appears to be concerned with organizational structures that can be observed or are judged to be reasonable in recurring classes of situation Naikar and Elix, a.

    As a case in point, Vicente discusses that, within the CWA framework, the analysis of organizational structures is undertaken in relation to particular classes of situation and, to illustrate this approach, he provides an example of how CWA can be used to analyze the organizational structures in a health care system. Specifically, he describes how the work demands of surgery may be distributed differently across a surgeon and an anesthesiologist, and he points out that the distributions of work demands may change if the patient is in pre-operation rather than in surgery.

    Furthermore, to complement his discussion, he illustrates how models from the CWA framework may be used for representing such distributions Figure 3. However, in this approach, CWA is being used to describe the organizational structures that are adopted by workers in recurring classes of situation, rather than to understand the structures that can be adopted irrespective of the situation. This approach may be useful for developing designs that support workers in commonly occurring situations, which is important. However, designs based on this approach may not be suitable for dealing with some kinds of situational variability or with unanticipated events particularly, because they may not support the organizational structures that are relevant—or that emerge—in unforeseen circumstances.

    Moreover, as these structures may present new behavioral opportunities, the resulting designs may not support some behavioral possibilities. Figure 3. Vicente's use of the abstraction-decomposition space to illustrate the distribution of work demands across a surgeon and an anesthesiologist during surgery. Reprinted with permission of Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Another, related, reason that CWA is limited in its capacity to facilitate adaptation concerns its ability to support integrated system design, whereby the design of multiple elements are coordinated across multiple actors in the system, such that workers are supported in adopting the range of possibilities for structural and behavioral adaptation in a unified manner. As discussed in more detail in the next section, to facilitate the integration of multiple elements in a way that promotes adaptation, the design of each element must be anchored to a common set of constraints.

    In complex sociotechnical systems, which are comprised of multiple actors, the full set of constraints that is relevant to each actor, or group of actors, in the system is dependent on the organizational structures that are possible. Accordingly, the design of each element must be coordinated around the organizational constraints. Hence the lack of a formative means for analyzing the organizational structures that are relevant, irrespective of the situation, does not limit simply the capacity of CWA to promote structural adaptation but also its capacity to facilitate the integration of multiple elements, across multiple actors, to produce an integrated system design.

    We do not suggest here that a formative analysis of the work organization is sufficient for creating an integrated system design. It is also important, for example, to have systematic processes for respecting the organizational constraints in the design of each element, as discussed in more depth later. The formative analysis of organizational structures, however, is a central step in creating an integrated system design.

    Perhaps it is also worth making the point explicitly that a formative analysis of the work organization in itself does not guarantee that multiple elements will be considered in the design process, but, once again, this analysis is essential for the designs of multiple elements to be well integrated, as elaborated in the next section. Finally, it is worth noting that existing design approaches based on CWA are limited in their capacity to promote adaptation in the manner concerned with here.

    First, detailed design approaches are focused largely on individual system elements, such as the interfaces Rasmussen and Vicente, ; Vicente and Rasmussen, , or teams Naikar et al. In relation to system design, Vicente makes the observation that particular phases of CWA can be used to inform particular classes of system design interventions. For example, he discusses that work domain analysis can be used to inform the design of information systems, that social organization and cooperation analysis can be used to inform the design of teams, and that worker competencies analysis can be used to inform the design of training programs.

    However, it is unclear how Vicente , intended the designs of the different elements to be integrated Naikar and Elix, a. If the designs of these elements are informed by different phases of CWA, such that they are based on distinct sets of constraints, the resulting designs would not necessarily support the same possibilities for adaptation. Alternatively, if the design of each element is based on all five phases of CWA, the resulting designs may be integrated but only in relation to a reduced space of possibilities for action, as the analysis would be restricted deliberately to organizational structures that can be observed or are judged to be reasonable in recurring classes of situation.

    Further to Vicente , , some approaches have addressed how particular phases of CWA can be used to support different stages of the system lifecycle, such as requirements definition, design, and evaluation, and to support the design of a variety of system elements, such as the interfaces, teams, and training Sanderson et al. It would be fair to say that all of these approaches recognize at some level the need for the design of multiple elements to be integrated in some fashion, although Hori et al.

    Read et al. On the basis of the information provided in these papers, it seems that this process could help to ensure that the designs of multiple elements are considered concurrently, although from the case study it appears that this is not a guaranteed result, given the ratings of the four participants in the design process and the analyst's reflections.

    In any case, assuming all elements are considered concurrently, it is unclear in what way, or on what basis, the design of the different elements would be coordinated using the process described, and thus what manner of integration the process would promote. However, considering that the process is based on the existing CWA framework, one can assume that it would be limited in its capacity to support structural adaptation and to facilitate the integration of multiple system elements in the fashion with which this paper is concerned. This paper proposes an approach for integrated system design, based on extensions of CWA.

    The approach develops substantially ideas described initially by Naikar , , for the analysis of the work organization and by Naikar and Elix for coordinating the design of multiple system elements. The express intent of this approach is to promote the capacity of sociotechnical systems for adaptation. The proposed approach has two particular premises. First, the approach presupposes that complex sociotechnical systems are comprised of multiple actors, as a single actor could not possibly attend to all of a system's work demands Figure 4.

    For example, a single actor could not possess or develop the full set of knowledge and skills necessary for dealing with all of the system's work demands effectively. Similarly, a single actor could not have the physical and mental capacity to cope with all of the system's work demands in the combinations and pace at which they occur. The significance of this straightforward assumption is made clear later. Figure 4.

    Use of the abstraction-decomposition space to emphasize that a single actor could not possibly attend to all of a system's work demands. Another premise of the proposed approach is that in complex sociotechnical systems there is usually no single or best way of organizing work, or of distributing the work demands across multiple actors. Instead, as empirical studies such as those cited earlier Rochlin et al. This means, then, that designs must support actors in adapting not only their behavior but also their structure, such that it is possible for actors to meet the demands of a variety of circumstances, some of which may be completely novel to them.

    In line with these premises, the proposed approach for integrated system design recognizes that to promote the capacity of sociotechnical systems for adaptation, it is necessary to understand the set of possibilities for work organization in a system irrespective of the situation. From a design perspective, this is necessary not simply for supporting multiple actors in adapting their structure but for coordinating the design of multiple elements, such as the interfaces, teams, training, and automation.

    As a result, actors will be supported in adapting their structure as well as their behavior —in a unified fashion—to meet the demands of a range of circumstances. Accordingly, the approach places emphasis on demarcating the set of possibilities for work organization in a system, given the system's constraints, and subsequently developing designs for each element that can accommodate the range of possibilities.

    These ideas are elaborated in the following discussion. For the purposes of integrated system design, the set of possibilities for work organization in a system is delineated through extensions of CWA, rather than any other work analysis technique, as a formative approach is necessary for supporting adaptations in both behavior and structure across a range of situations.

    As demonstrated in detail later, the possibilities can be delineated within the social organization and cooperation dimension of CWA Table 1 by applying the criteria that govern shifts in work organization in a formative manner to examine how the work demands of the system can be distributed across actors—both human and automata.

    1. Introduction

    Ideally, the work demands would be derived from the first three dimensions of CWA, namely work domain analysis, activity analysis, and strategies analysis. However, given practical considerations, the work demands may be derived solely from work domain analysis, as it encompasses both novel and anticipated situations Naikar and Elix, , a. Once the organizational possibilities have been defined, designs for each of the system elements can be developed to support those possibilities at the three levels of cognitive control that actors can bring to the performance of a task.

    These three levels of cognitive control, skill-based, rule-based, and knowledge-based behavior, are considered within the worker competencies dimension of CWA. Thus the proposed approach coordinates the design of multiple system elements around the organizational constraints. The set of possibilities for work organization in a system is regarded as the central mechanism for integrating the design of multiple elements because complex sociotechnical systems are comprised of multiple actors.

    To create an integrated system design, one in which all of the elements support adaptation in a coherent fashion across multiple actors, the design of each element must be anchored to a common set of constraints. Given multiple actors, the constraints of the work domain, activity, strategies, and workers that are applicable to an actor, or group of actors, are dependent on the possibilities for work organization Figure 5. Hence the design of each element, for each actor, must be coordinated around these possibilities, or organizational constraints. While the design of each element must also respect the constraints of the work domain, activity, strategies, and workers, the designs of these elements can only be coordinated around those constraints if it is assumed that a single actor is responsible for all of the system's work demands.

    However, this design approach is unsuitable for complex sociotechnical systems, as multiple actors are necessary for fulfilling the system's work demands. Figure 5. Use of the abstraction-decomposition space to illustrate that when there are multiple actors, the constraints that are relevant to an actor, or group of actors, are dependent on the possibilities for work organization.

    Notably, as the constraints that are relevant to a particular actor or group of actors are dependent on the possibilities for work organization, understanding the set of possibilities is essential not only for supporting actors in adapting their structure but also in adapting their behavior. As indicated earlier, the different structural possibilities are associated with distinct behavioral opportunities.

    Therefore, to appreciate the full set of behavioral possibilities available to particular actors, it is necessary to establish the full set of work structures in which they can participate. Otherwise, the resulting constraint-based space for each actor will be smaller than their actual space of possibilities for action. This means that the associated designs, though offering some degree of flexibility to each actor, will limit the possibilities for action available to them, ultimately restricting the capacity of the system for adaptation.

    By emphasizing the necessity of defining the set of possibilities for work organization independently of the situation, the proposed approach promotes greater adaptation than can be achieved by focusing designs on a subset of possibilities.


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    4. For example, the approach can lead to designs that support greater adaptation than designs based on work structures observed in recurring situations. Similarly, it can lead to designs that promote greater adaptation than those based on work structures deemed ideal under certain conditions. This approach, then, can foster the development of more robust or resilient systems that are capable of coping with idiosyncratic circumstances or situations involving small variations from recurring or pre-defined conditions, as even small changes in context can require adaptation by workers.

      Moreover, it can foster the development of systems with greater capacity to deal with novel events, which is particularly important given that these events are widely regarded as posing the most significant threats to performance Rasmussen, a , b , , ; Perrow, ; Reason, ; Rasmussen et al. The proposed approach therefore enhances the quality of the integration of multiple system elements, with respect to the goal of promoting adaptation, compared with that achievable by designing the various elements using existing design approaches based on CWA.

      Work and Cancer Survivors

      As an illustration, the application of existing approaches to design particular elements could involve using the ecological interface design framework Rasmussen and Vicente, ; Vicente and Rasmussen, , to create the displays for a system and a technique described by Naikar et al. However, applying these techniques in combination would not necessarily ensure that the designs of the two elements are well coordinated, particularly because there is no explicit mechanism for tying together, or binding, the designs of the interfaces and teams across multiple actors in the system.

      In particular, the ecological interface design framework cited above is based on the constraints of the work domain and workers, whereas the team design approach is concerned with the constraints of the work domain and activity. Notably, Bennett and Flach describe an approach for ecological interface design that incorporates the constraints of the work domain, activity, and workers.

      Nevertheless, even if the designs of both elements were anchored somehow to a common set of constraints, whether this is the constraints of the work domain, activity, workers, or all of these constraints, this approach would be insufficient for complex sociotechnical systems. Assuming that the existing techniques for both elements involve some kind of recognition, formal or informal, of there being multiple actors and of there being different ways of organizing work among these actors, as the team design technique does at least, the resulting designs would most probably take into account only a subset of the work organization possibilities, say those that can be observed or anticipated.

      Cognitive Work Analysis: New Dimensions

      Consequently, while the designs of the two elements may be integrated across multiple actors in the system, by anchoring the designs of both elements to the constraints considered relevant to each actor or group of actors, the designs would be integrated only in relation to a reduced space of possibilities for adaptation. Such an approach would restrict the system's inherent capacity for adaptation. The proposed approach for integrated system design, then, has implications for existing design approaches based on CWA.

      Irrespective of which element or elements are of concern, it is necessary to incorporate the set of work organization possibilities in the designs of those elements. Thus, relative to existing approaches, the proposed approach would enhance the capacity of the system for adaptation by promoting structural adaptation, providing opportunities for behavioral adaptation associated with the structural possibilities, and facilitating the integration of multiple elements, such that the overall design preserves the system's underlying capacity for adaptation, across multiple actors, in a systematic fashion.

      In summary, the proposed approach can be considered integrative on two levels. First, it provides a unified means for supporting adaptations in both behavior and structure. Thus, even if the focus is on an individual element, by incorporating the constraints on the possibilities for work organization in the design of that element, alongside the other constraints, the resulting design would support adaptations in both behavior and structure.

      Second, the approach provides a lynchpin—in the form of a common set of work organization possibilities—for integrating the design of multiple elements. This mechanism is important because simply incorporating these possibilities into the design of a single element would be conducive to supporting adaptation but insufficient. Rather, the designs of the various elements must be coordinated, across multiple actors in the system, such that the system design supports the range of possibilities for structural and behavioral adaptation in a coherent manner. In creating an integrated system design, then, the set of work organization possibilities is a central concept in the analysis and design effort.

      Thus this section shows how the set of work organization possibilities may be defined, while the next section shows how these possibilities may be utilized in design. The precise aim of the analysis phase is to demarcate the set of possibilities for work organization in a system irrespective of the situation.

      Thus the possibilities must be defined in a formative manner, such that they are not limited to particular conditions but are relevant to any situation, even those that cannot be anticipated. Consequently, designs can be developed to support worker adaptation to a variety of conditions, including novel events. The key question then is how the set of all possible work structures in a system may be identified without consideration of the full set of circumstances in which they may be implemented, as all of these circumstances cannot be predicted a priori. The essence of the approach is encapsulated in Figure 6.

      Basically, this figure shows that the set of possibilities for work organization in a system can be delineated independently of the situation by defining the constraints on the possibilities, rather than describing the possibilities themselves. As will be demonstrated in the following discussion, these constraints can be identified by analyzing the limits placed on the distribution of work demands across actors by the criteria that govern shifts in work organization, as these criteria will constrain the structures actors can adopt.

      Figure 6. The set of possibilities for work organization is delineated by defining the constraints on the possibilities. It is important to appreciate that the criteria that dynamically govern shifts in work organization exclude certain work structures from consideration altogether. This point is not recognized explicitly by either Rasmussen et al. Depending on the access actors have to information or controls, for instance, only certain ways of distributing the work demands across actors will be possible in the system regardless of the situation.

      Likewise, based on organizational policies or the competencies of actors, only particular work arrangements will be permissible or feasible at any point in time. Thus the criteria exclude certain work structures outright, as well as constraining the structures that are suitable under particular conditions, thereby dynamically governing shifts in work organization. Consequently, by amalgamating the criteria with the work demands of the system to identify the structures that are to be excluded altogether, the set of possibilities for work organization in the system may be circumscribed.

      In an idealized implementation of the approach, then, the first step is to define the work demands of the system with the first three dimensions of CWA, namely work domain analysis, activity analysis, and strategies analysis, consistent with a constraint-based perspective. Accordingly, the work demands of the system will be captured in the form of an abstraction-decomposition space or abstraction hierarchy, a contextual activity template, a set of decision ladders, and a set of information flow maps Table 1.

      As an illustration, Figure 7 presents a modified decision ladder from a set of eight that resulted from an activity analysis of the Royal Australian Air Force's future maritime surveillance aircraft Elix and Naikar, This model represents some of the decision-making demands associated with identifying targets, such as an enemy submarine, from the aircraft.

      For example, the work demands involve positioning the aircraft and manipulating its various sensors to obtain certain information about the target, such as its location and characteristics, so that the target's identity can be established, even in the face of such obstacles as the environmental conditions. The basic elements of the decision ladder template are described in detail by Rasmussen et al.

      Figure 7. A modified decision ladder identifying some of the work demands of a future maritime surveillance aircraft. Subsequently, in the social organization and cooperation dimension, the work organization criteria are applied to the work demands to demarcate the set of possibilities for work organization in the system. As indicated above, this process involves examining the limits placed on the allocation or distribution of work demands across actors by each of the criteria, irrespective of the situation. In this paper, the same six criteria observed by Rasmussen et al.

      However, it is possible that other criteria may be relevant for different systems. The limits on the possibilities for work organization can be identified by considering the following kinds of question in relation to the work demands captured in the various CWA models:. For example, in the case of the maritime surveillance aircraft, the need for compliance with organizational regulations constrains the captaincy of the aircraft to one of the flying crew rather than tactical crew. Therefore any work demand requiring the authority of the captain, such as the arming of weapons, must be allocated to one of the flying crew Figure 8A.

      Furthermore, the safety and reliability criterion constrains the responsibility of piloting the aircraft to two people, even though a single person would have the capacity to handle this responsibility. Consequently any work demand associated with piloting the aircraft must be allocated to at least two actors Figure 8B. Third, the criterion of access to information or controls constrains the allocation of any work demand requiring a window, such as the sighting of targets, to actors in the flight deck or at observer stations in the cabin Figure 8C.

      In addition, this criterion constrains the control of four sensor systems i. Finally, while the criterion of minimizing coordination would constrain the operation of all of the sensors to a single actor Figure 8E , the requirement for crew members to develop the necessary competencies within a reasonable timeframe and have a manageable workload would result in the allocation of these sensors to more than one actor Figure 8F. Figure 8. Illustration of the application of the work organization criteria to a future maritime surveillance aircraft.

      It is important to emphasize that the criteria are applied to the work demands independently of the situation. This means that the limits that are identified on the allocation or distribution of work demands must hold regardless of the circumstances or, in other words, be relevant to any situation. From a practical perspective, then, when analysts step through the process of applying the criteria to the work demands, they are likely to find that while certain possibilities for work organization can be excluded outright on this basis, there are many remaining possibilities and which of these possibilities will be adopted by actors cannot be established independently of the situation.

      However, in many cases, these uncertainties can only be resolved by actors in relation to the particularities of a situation, given that these cannot always be predicted a priori. For example, although actors may generally seek to minimize coordination requirements in enacting organizational structures to deal with events, there may be circumstances in which they adopt work structures involving greater coordination because of the workload of particular actors at that point in time. Therefore, often the criterion of coordination will not result in limits on work organization being established conclusively.

      The same applies to the workload criterion in that there may be times when actors adopt organizational structures involving a high workload for some actors, although they may generally seek a manageable workload for all actors. Hence, in applying the criteria to the work demands, it is important to focus on those limits that cannot be broken, irrespective of the situation.

      This means that the boundaries on work organization will stem largely from the criteria of compliance, safety and reliability, access to information and controls, and competencies, as event-independent limits may be derived more readily from these criteria. For instance, the access actors have to some kinds of information or controls will not vary according to situation. Similarly, many organizational regulations will hold across all situations. Nevertheless, despite these constraints, actors will still have many degrees of freedom for action, such that any of the criteria may be invoked online and in real time by actors to enact organizational structures that are suitable given the circumstances.

      Thus the criteria will still govern shifts in work organization dynamically. Once the criteria have been applied to the work demands to identify the limits on their distribution, it is possible to create a diagram of work organization possibilities for the actors in the system.

      Neelam Naikar (Author of Integrated Systems, Design and Technology)

      Figure 9 shows a modified representation of the resulting diagram for the future maritime surveillance aircraft The full diagram cannot be reproduced here because of space limitations and proprietary restrictions. This figure identifies some of the actors in the system, in terms of their positioning at particular stations on the aircraft, and provides an event-independent representation of the work demands for which these actors can be responsible.

      Figure 9. Modified diagram of work organization possibilities for a future maritime surveillance aircraft. For the sake of simplicity, Figure 10 depicts the diagram of work organization possibilities in a generic form. In the following discussion, this figure will be drawn on to highlight some key features of this formative representation. Some examples from the maritime surveillance aircraft will also be provided. Figure Generic illustration of the diagram of work organization possibilities. An important feature of the WOP diagram is that it results in an understanding of the set of work demands for which an actor can be responsible.

      Which work demands an actor will be responsible for at any point in time is situation-dependent, such that the responsibilities of actors could vary over time. For example, initially Actor A could be responsible for Work Demand 2 but subsequently this responsibility could be assumed by Actors B or C Figure In the same way, initially Actor B could be responsible for Work Demands 2, 3, 4, and 5 and subsequently for just Work Demand 3. Seller Inventory Condition: NEW. For all enquiries, please contact Herb Tandree Philosophy Books directly - customer service is our primary goal.

      Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Never used!. Seller Inventory P Ships with Tracking Number! Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory n. Neelam Naikar. Publisher: CRC Press , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title In complex sociotechnical systems such as military, health care, and nuclear power systems, poor performance or errors resulting from inadequate designs can have catastrophic consequences.

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