MUST Program (1991-1999)

MUST web site

The purpose of the MUST program was to develop theories of and approaches to participatory IT design. An IT design project runs the course from the emergence of the first idea, involving change in an organisation, to the development of a cohesive vision for overall change. This is the most critical, complex, and challenging part of the overall systems development life cycle. It requires strong interdisciplinary skills, since it is completely dependent on the situation and organisational context. It involves issues covering (and combining) the spectrum of IT development, organisational change, and qualifications related to human resources.

The MUST research program was established and managed during a ten years period by myself in cooperation with Finn Kensing and Keld Bødker.

From 1991 to 1994, we conducted 9 explorative action research projects experimenting with various approaches, theoretical frameworks, techniques, and representation tools. I was in charge of 4 of these projects conducted in collaboration with the Danish Film Institute and with Stanford University Central Administration. The Danish Film Institute supported the projects with a 100.000 kr. research grant.

In 1995, Finn Kensing and I managed a large-scale project in cooperation with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR). This was the tenth project in the MUST program. Our research had at this time matured from experimenting with different approaches to evaluating a coherent presentation of the MUST method. The project was financed by DR with a 200.000 kr. research grant, and it involved IT designers from DR’s IT-department as well as 140 managers and employees from one of DR’s radio stations. The project validated our results, and ended with the design and development of the new digital radio production and management system, which is now deployed throughout DR. The initial investment in IT, based on the requirements, specifications, and recommendations from our project, was approximately 100 million kr.

The final phase of the MUST program (1997-1999), focused on dissemination of the results (the MUST method) within industry. The program received a research grant of 2.9 million kr. from the Centre of Information Technology (CIT).The purpose was to supervise IT practitioners employed in the companies in using the MUST method as well as to write a book about the MUST method. The program included three projects, where I managed one project in cooperation with the international software corporation WM-data Consulting A/S and one with of WM-data’s customers, located abroad in another EU country. The project resulted in a contract between WM-data and their customer with an initial two digit million kr. budget.

The overall result of the MUST program is a state-of-the-art coherent method for participatory design where IT-design projects are explicitly viewed in a business oriented perspective; Management and users are active participants in the project; First-hand experience of work practice is an important part of the basis for visions of change; And all results are anchored with the involved actors.