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Colloquium - Herrmann

Creativity and the Design of Socio-Technical Processes
University of Bochum
1/17/2007
11:30am-1:00pm

While process management strategies mainly focus on incremental improvement and workflow management support, the design perspective includes possibilities of fundamental change and all kinds of IT-based support for collaborative processes. We focus on building the bridge between technology development and usage with a method of systematic communication facilitation -- the socio-technical walkthrough (STWT). It is run in participatory workshops where software-engineers and other stakeholders are brought together. The STWT employs a semi-structured modeling method to continuously visualize the proposed solutions with diagrams as well as their evolution. In a controlled experiment with 24 students, the combination of systematic facilitation and diagrams has proved as more successful than classical methods (text on cards, pin boards, or flipcharts). Our observations in several practical cases reveal limits and potentials with respect to the enhancement of creativity. A variety of factors such as different cognitive abilities, motivation, rhythms, communication behaviour, dealing with incompleteness, varying granularity of details etc. are relevant to understand the effects on the divergence and convergence of ideas in a design workshop. It is discussed how we can support the emergence of new choices (instead of only making choices) for socio-technical solutions of collaborative work processes.

Thomas Herrmann is a professor of Information and Technology Management at the Institute of Applied Work Science (IAW), University of Bochum, Germany since 2004, and a fellow of the Electrical Engineering Department. Current research interests include design methods for socio-technical systems in the areas of knowledge management, (work-)process management, computer supported collaborative learning, and concepts of social software for innovation support. He teaches courses in Groupware, Knowledge Management, Socio-Technical Systems Design, Information Systems and Privacy, Human-Computer Interaction, Organizational Communication, and Process Management.

He was an Associate Professor from 1992-2004 at the Computer Science Department at the University of Dortmund and was in charge of the development of infrastructure and new media for the University of Dortmund as a vice president from 2002-2004. He holds a PhD in Computer Science of the Technical University of Berlin (1986) and a Master of Art in Communication Science of the University of Bonn (1983).

Sponsored by the Center for Lifelong Learning & Design.

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