Information - The ‘I’ in 21st Century organizational IT systems: An Informed Systems methodology



Document Type

Conference Presentation

Conference Title

Social Change in our Technology-Based World: Proceedings of the 19th Annual Working Conference of the International Institute for Development and Ethics (IIDE)


Maarssden, The Netherlands

Conference Dates

May 6-9, 2014

Date of Presentation



In development for over a decade in three North American academic libraries, the Informed Systems Methodology offers a transferable organizational development model for fostering workplace learning enabled by catalytic relationships among information, technology, and people. With an explicit emphasis on using information to learn, ‘soft’ systems design tools enable co-creation of communication systems and professional practices that enable information sharing and knowledge creation processes. When contextualized by local values, experiences, and purposes, the Informed Systems Methodology fosters organizational transformation and creative innovation.

With the aim to initiate and sustain workplace learning, the Informed Systems Methodology employs four complementary theories that enable and enliven workplace possibilities. Christine Bruce’s Informed Learning theory catalyzes experiences of ‘using information to learn’ as applied through intentional co-design processes and professional practices. Peter Checkland’s Soft Systems Methodology guides ‘collaborative design’ (co-design) of multi-level communication, decision-making, and planning systems and associated practices for purposeful workplace activities that inform ‘action to improve’. Ikujiro Nonaka’s framework of socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization (SECI) offers an explanation for individual learning processes. Nonaka also offers the conceptual notion of ba, a physical and virtual workplace environment wherein tacit information is transformed into explicit knowledge. Finally, Mary Crossan’s 4i framework of intuiting, interpreting, integrating, and institutionalizing elaborates necessary elements for multi-level organizational learning.

The capacity building Informed Systems Methodology offers a theory-based framework for application of proven ‘soft’ systems design methods that make possible new ways of seeing, being, and knowing in 21st Century organization amidst persistent and uncertain environmental changes. Generative organizational systems and associated professional practices, harnessed to produce holistic worker insights and new creative abilities through iterative evaluation and continuous improvement, enable this information experience-based approach.

By fostering principles of systems thinking and informed learning though an inclusive, participatory design process that advances information exchange, reflective dialogue, and knowledge creation, the Informed Systems Methodology promotes conceptual change in workplace organizations. It also furthers expression of collaborative information practices that enrich information experiences by simultaneously advancing both situated domain knowledge and transferable learning capacity. Design activities well integrated into the workplace culture and expressed through ‘habits of mind’ support participants’ developing awareness of the conceptions of information experience and informed learning, in a cyclical and iterative fashion that promotes and sustains continuous learning. A shared learning focus evolves through intentional use of information to learn, including collective reflection on information sources, collaborative practices, and systems functionalities, which further transferable topical understandings and enrich information experiences. In addition, action oriented intention and inclusive participatory disposition ensure improvements of real world situations.



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M. Rathbone, F. von Schéele, & S. Strijbos


Rozenberg Publishers