Designers have long been aware of the importance of systems the field of CSCW

Designers have long been aware of the importance of

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Designers have long been aware of the importance of systems: the field of CSCW evolved because of a growing consciousness among information systems designers that technology could not be separated from the social system in which it
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operates (Ackerman 2000). Yet reductionist analytical techniques that narrow the problem space are inappropriate for understanding the interconnectedness of systems (Ackoff 1999). To appreciate the relationships that form the system, designers both use traditional analysis and develop a synthesis of the system as a whole. The role of the systems perspective in the design process was captured by Gharajedaghi (1999: 23) as follows: Designers seek to choose rather than predict the future. They try to understand rational, emotional, and cultural dimensions of choice and to produce a design that satisfies a multitude of functions. The design methodology requires that designers learn how to use what they already know, learn how to realize what they do not know, and learn how to learn what they need to know. Finally, producing a design requires an awareness of how activities of one part of a system affect and are affected by other parts. This awareness requires understanding the nature of interactions among the parts. Because management problems are often shifting, difficult situations characterized by complex interrelationships and multiple stakeholders, they also defy easy solutions. Systems thinking has therefore been of interest to management scholars for some User-centred Design 135 time. Jackson (2000) traces the history of systems thinking and argues that its growth has been limited by a perception among managers that it is too theoretical for practical problems; nevertheless, the popularity of Senge s (1994) book The Fifth Discipline attests to the desire for a fresh approach to complex problems. In user-centred management, as in UCD, the key considerations are the relationships between consumers, employees, shareholders, managers and other stakeholders. A Model of Management Education based on UCD While the basic idea of putting users at the centre of management thinking is simple, it has profound implications. As noted earlier, the term user needs to be defined broadly: the user of a financial statement may be investors, financial analysts or creditors. What is important is an explicit appreciation of the full range of users and an intimate understanding of them. In management education based on the principles of UCD, students would develop skills in systems thinking and an attitude of empathy. To accomplish this, they would be required to solve wicked problems by framing the problem, understanding users intimately, thinking abductively about possible solutions, using analysis and synthesis to develop an understanding of systems and their component parts, and collaborating in diverse teams (Dunne and Martin 2006). This does not, however, mean that design courses would supplant those courses currently being taught in business
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