3.9 Bødker, K., F. Kensing, J. Simonsen (2002): "Changing Work Practices in Design", in Dittrich, Y, C. Floyd, and R. Klischewski (Eds):Social Thinking – Software Practice, MIT Press, Boston, pp. 267-285.


The chapter reflects on activitites in three IT-organizations to change work practices in early design activitites. The activitites in the three organizations were related to introducing a new method for design in  an organizational context, developed by the authors (Kensing et al., 1998a). The method is developed based on a combination of theoretical studies and experimental development. In the experiments we - as designing researchers - have carried out ten design projects in various organizations in Denmark and the US in cooperation with designers and users from the involved companies (Bødker and Kensing, 1994; Kensing et al. 1998b; Simonsen, 1997; Simonsen and Kensing, 1997).

We use the term design in the same way as architects do - focusing on the analysis of needs and opportunities, and the design of functionality and form. We do acknowledge, however, that in a succeeding development process, further design is needed, and that when applying a computer system, users might very well find new ways of utilizing the system, as well as come up with additional demands. This does not negate the need for a design that is a good first approximation.

The method is inspired by ethnographic approaches, and by Scandinavian participatory design approaches. The MUST method supports - by its conceptual framework, its techniques, and tools - ways of repre-senting current work and the envisioned IT systems. We have participated in designing IT support for 9 people on an editorial board of a film company and for 50 people working in a research and development lab; we have designed multimedia support for 140 people working at a radio station. All the work domains can be characterized as professional work in complex settings with a very open-ended agenda for the design project - no clear statement of the problems, of the kind of IT support needed, or of how the project should be carried out.

To put the method to a ”reality test” we recently carried out projects in three Danish IT-organizations. Our role in these projects was restricted to method dessimination – analyzing the IT-designers’ current work practices, propose changes, teaching, supervision, and coaching – and to evaluate the method in close cooperation with the designers in the three projects . In this chapter we reflect on our experiences in relation to method dessimination, i.e. changing work practices of designers doing real life industrial projects. We hereby invite the reader to take part in our reflections!

The chapter is structured as follows. Section 2 contains a description of the research approach in the project. In section 3 we briefly present the method that we have developed and which was introduced and tested in the three organizations. In section 4 we present the three organizations and the activities performed in each organization. Secion 5 presents the lessons learned and a conclusion.