In this article, Nynke Fokma and Becky Winant discuss the lack of "human architecting" in many projects, especially in software development. Here is an example.
A systems analyst had to develop a new daily transaction processing system for bank tellers. The analyst was not allowed to talk to the tellers for fear of bothering them, but was assured by the bank manager that the Office Operations manager at headquarters would provide all necessary information. The story ended with many perplexed bank tellers who had no idea how to use the newly implemented system, and frustrated customers because it was taking a l-o-o-ong time for each transaction.
Does this approach work? Of course not. The authors say that any success in developing software or other systems depends on learning more about the people involved.
Human architecture acknowledges that all systems we devise are for people -- software, products and organizational structure and operation. So, the creation process by necessity must involve all who care about the ultimate effectiveness of the system whether they order it, use it, design it, build it or pay for it. People constitute the audience and the resource. Any success depends on learning more about the people involved.
Later in the article, they draw a parallel between Jerry Weinberg's terminology for cultural patterns [he's the author of "Quality Software Management, Volume 1: Systems Thinking"] and the products developed by any company.
Weinberg's patterns with descriptive metaphors are:
- Oblivious - "Walking"
- Variable - "Riding a horse"
- Routine - "A train"
- Steering - "A van"
- Anticipating - "An airplane"
- Congruent - "The Starship Enterprise"
Please read the full story to discover what kind of products correspond to these cultural patterns.
Source: Nynke Fokma and Becky Winant, Computerworld, January 2, 2003
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