Category Archives: Global Network

New book announcement!

Co-Creating Humane and Innovative Organizations: Evolutions in the Practice Of Socio-technical System Design 

is the multifaceted book edited by our colleagues Bernard Mohr  (USA) and Pierre van Amelsvoort (Netherlands, Belgium).  Thirty authors (academics, union leaders, and practitioners) describe their different lenses on STS-D (Socio-Technical System Design) to shed light on the panoply of past, present, and future thinking and practices that give life to the challenge of “co-creating humane and innovative organizations.” A number of active EUWIN participants contributed to the book.

bookThe book is sponsored by the Global STS-D Network, cofounded by the STS Roundtable (North America) and the Ulbo De Sitter Institute (in the Netherlands and Belgium).

The book is recommended by – among other persons – Edgar H. Schein: “Finally we have an excellent overview of Socio-technical theory and practice, a historically seminal concept that has not nearly received enough attention among managers and organization development practitioners” and by Bill Pasmore “The idea of building organizations that are great for people and productivity began long before Teal and Holocracy became popular….Read this book if you want to know the story behind the story of making organizations that are truly amazing.”


You can see a preview at Amazon website. However, we ask you to please order it at the CreateSpace website for the same price ($ 29.95) as this brings twice as much royalty to fund development of the Global STS-D network.


  1. Waves of Evolution In Socio-technical Systems Design (STS-D)—Bernard J. Mohr and Pierre van Amelsvoort ˑ1
  2. Creating High-Performing Organizations: The North American Open Socio-technical Systems Design Approach—Bernard J. Mohr ˑ16
  3. Open Systems Theory and the Two-Stage Model of Active Adaptation—Donald W. de Guerre ˑ34
  4. North American Design of Nonroutine Work Systems (1980s–1990s)—Douglas Austrom and Carolyn Ordowich ˑ50
  5. Human Talent Mobilization: Improving Both Quality of Working Life and Productivity by Organizational Design in the Lowlands—Pierre van Amelsvoort ˑ73
  6. Organizing Innovation and (Strategic) Decision Making—L. J. Lekkerkerk ˑ99
  7. Socio-technical Systems Design for Coordination of Virtual Teamwork—Bert Painter, Pamela A. Posey, Douglas R. Austrom, Ramkrishnan V. Tenkasi, Betty Barrett, and Betsy Merck ˑ123
  8. STS Designing for a Networked World—Carolyn Ordowich and Doug Austrom ·145
  9. The Employee’s Voice in the Design of Humane and Innovative Work(places)—Kevin Boyle, Wim Sprenger, and Ike Overdiep ˑ167
  10. Democratic Dialogue—Bjorn Gustavsen ˑ186
  11. Workplace Innovation—Frank Pot and Steven Dhondt ˑ201
  12. Purpose and Power in the Evolution of Socio-technical Systems Design—William E. Smith ˑ223
  13. Evolving Socio-technical Perspectives on Human Factors and Safety—Eric-Hans Kramer and Matthijs Moorkamp ˑ241
  14. Resilience-Centered Approaches for Training Design in an Electric Utility—Mohammed Alfayyoumi, Rocky Sease, and Pamela Ey ˑ258
  15. Enid Mumford: The ETHICS Methodology and Its Legacy—Peter Bednar and Christine Welch ˑ274
  16. Applying Enterprise Information Technology from a Socio-technical Perspective —Mark J. G. Govers and Pim Sudmeier ˑ289
  17. Lowlands Socio-technical Design Theory and Lean Production—Jac Christis and Erik Soepenberg ·303
  18. Changing the Nature of Work: Toward Total Workplace Innovation—Geert van Hootegem ˑ326
  19. The Future of STS-D—Bernard J. Mohr and Pierre van Amelsvoort ˑ344

You can see a preview at Amazon website. However, we ask you to please order it at the CreateSpace website for the same price ($ 29.95) as this brings twice as much royalty to fund development of the Global STS-D network.

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This is the  ‘GLO.WIN’—the Global Organization for Work Innovation Manifesto, signed in September of 2015, by members of the Global STS Design Network, EUWIN, IWOT, the European Organization Design Forum (EODF), and individual practitioners in Appreciative Inquiry, Lean Organization and other methodologies.

Click on the icon to download the complete document (PDF).


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Inter-organization Design – 4

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This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

This session was particularly memorable to me. I was touched by the discussion on Macondo blowout and the oil spill and what can be done to prevent similar tragedies in the future. The increased turbulence of the environment makes it impossible for any one single organization to respond effectively to external challenges. This idea is not new. Emery and Trist (1972) noted that “ these fields are so complex, so richly textured, that it is difficult to see how individual systems can, by their own efforts, successfully adapt to them”. Here is some learning from this session:

  1. Organizations must understand that they are insufficiently equipped individually to provide comprehensive solutions to any existing problems (sensitive responses to the weak signals). Any solution will be incomplete.
  2. The purpose of the collaboration is to provide focus through a collective eye (like the eye of the fly which have the fastest visual responses in the animal kingdom).
  3. The design question is where to place the collective eye. Since the most complete set of data is available where the operation is done, the collective eye should be placed on the drilling rig. This was a real life example how placing the command and control function with the people that do the actual job could have prevented a tragedy.

This session also left me with some broad questions about the design of the governance structure of the STS global network/community/ eco-system. How can we ensure that whatever we design passes the test of time and remains relevant and able to constantly adapt to the changing environment.

Catalina Barbarosie,

HSI 2013

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Inter-organization Design – 3

Several organizations are facing an environment that is increasingly difficult. The reality of this time is known as VUCA environment. VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. If you want to learn an approach that helps organizations solve challenges in these VUCA times, don’t miss our webinar on Positive Participative Innovation, developed and presented by Don, Doug and Bernard. More information here

This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

Let me precede my little commentary by stating that I am an INFJ according to the Myers-Briggs personality type. So I’m a ‘big feeler’. When I’m at conferences I learn by observation. I watch for the passion, motivation, and dedication in individuals.

And so it was with great interest that I was listening to one of our colleagues who had been involved with companies that were responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico several years ago. He spoke about how affected he was by both the disaster and by the lack of responsibility of some of the companies. He mentioned that his grand-parents had taught him that we do not own the land but are stewards of it. It made him upset knowing that these corporations were more interested in serving their self-interests then to serve the common good.

I’ve thought about that presentation several times since the STS conference in September. I do realize that it is important for corporations to protect their identity. Thousands of investors, employees, and communities depend on their existence. But as our colleague said in his presentation it would have been so much more honorable and upright had they taken responsibility from the very beginning rather than pointing fingers at prolonging the legal process.

In evading responsibility corporations evoke wariness and distrust regarding corporations. Once again the public looks at them as being very much self-serving. Unfortunately these corporations don’t realize that there is a stigma that goes forward with them; who will not associate BP as a culprit in the future-one only has to check the Internet to what is considered the “BP oil spill.” They’re not doing themselves or their stakeholders any service.

Recently I was rereading Chris Argyris’ work on Espoused Values and Theories-in-use. I’m sure many leaders in the above companies meant well but did not come through for the greater good. In my estimation, this may be caused by the leadership in corporations and possibly in the way they are structured. The way some corporations are run diminishes the role of values and affects the overall well-being of individuals. Unfortunately employees are too caught up in survival mode to take stock, often not having many other options.

But are they proud? I don’t know about you but I become passionate when I see organizations that have a meaningful mission-vision, produce for the common good, and go beyond the call of duty. For those organizations I will give 100%, with conviction and pleasure.  That’s how organizations did it in the past. Could we re-instill these values?

Although I am relatively new to STS, I trust that one of the components of redesign is to revisit and elaborate the core values in organizations through meaningful and relevant mission-visions.

Andy Malolepszy,

HSI 2003

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Inter-organization Design – 2

Do you want to learn a provocative approach that unleashes everyone’s ability to design and create the futures we most want and need? Don’t miss the upcoming webinar (June 26th) on Positive Participative Innovation. More information here

Inter-organization Design – part 2

This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

Learning about the philosophy of the models (three beliefs: agility, transparency and integration) used to create Inter-organization design was really inspiring and gave me the opportunity to reflect on the complexity that it involves. It highlighted also the importance of using an STS Collaboration platform to build the trust needed when the different organizations need to define social and technical systems in an emergent way. The discussion about the Macondo Disaster also brought the same questions and urgency about  having a bigger vision — the eye that provides focus and responses that help to build not only collaboration, but  accountability and ethical behavior. Other important topics were the importance of value-driven collaboration, the high value of inviting and respecting the input of others (with a provocative invitation), identifying the stakeholders by their interests, and the design of a process to allow participants define what their shared purpose is (where the accountability is related to the purpose, not only to the task).

Marcela Urteaga,

HSI 2012

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Inter-organization Design

This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

This  was a particularly impactful part of the conference as I realized there was a name and place within STS for the work I do in the community sector: inter-organization design. Not only that, I also realized that other people within the network are doing similar work, and facing similar challenges.  It also meant to me that I belonged there at the conference and among the other participants. For the rest of the conference when others asked what kind of work I did, I started with the simple response: “I do inter-organization design.” And they understood what I meant. It was blissful! I discovered I am not alone; there are people I can connect with about the unique challenges of multi-stakeholder work, and the additional challenges of applying STS where the environment becomes more complex, and the nature of the work and workflow more difficult to define (we are not making car engines, we are attempting to make well-being!).

The beauty of inter-organization design is to tackle problems and issues that are beyond the scope of one single organization. Bringing together community organizations, government institutions, the private sector, and beyond, poses significant challenges when they all come to the table. The model presented by Carolyn was fascinating; I was in awe to see that other people had cared enough about both community and STS to put collective thought into creating a theoretical model based in STS and apply it to inter-organization design. I learn best when I can put theory to practice, and I was excited for the presentations that followed to help make sense of the abstract theoretical model. These examples were fascinating and inspiring. Being newbie to the STS conference and STS in general, I was relieved when I shared with the person sitting next to me that I had not managed to fully understand the model and she said she was in the same boat. Our impression was that the links between the conceptual model and the practical examples had not been clearly drawn. I was hungry to hash out these links and more thoroughly understand an STS model that I can apply to my community work. I am still very eager to tackle this and invite those who have a handle of it to contribute their understandings and increase our collective knowledge.

Carlye Watson,

HSI 2013

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Information/Communication Technologies and their Impact on Work and Organizational Design

These articles are part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous post, click here.

According to Maturana and Varela, human beings have developed the unique capacity of talking together and make meaning in language. We live inside our language and we create our world through the conversation networks that we share with one another.  Considering that organizations emerge from dialogue, and that technology is changing the way we communicate, how is the new technology dialogue/lexicon impacting our behavior?

During this session we had the opportunity to reflect on how technologies are bringing teams together all over the world, are changing the conditions (time, place, schedule, etc) of work, reducing bureacracy, increasing productivity and improving communication.  The presentation was also an invitation to consider the social and environmental impact of the new technologies, to find the balance between high performance and happiness, and the concept of Sociocracy as a governance system (using consent-based decision making among equivalent individuals and an organizational structure based on cybernetic principles, Wikipedia dixit).

Technology is helping us to hear and include the worker, but it also limiting the access that people have to information. Therefore, we need to have proper processes in place to ensure we’re not limiting our employees’ voices by design.

Marcela Urteaga,

HSI 2012

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The Changing Workplace

 These articles are part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous post, click here.

As a first activity in the Changing Workplace session, participants were invited to gather into age groups and discuss the changes that they have witnessed in work and the workplace over the course of their lifetime, and to place their observations on a large-group timeline.

There was a fair amount of overlap among the findings of the small groups: the increased pace of work, the blurring of boundaries between private and work life, the increasing abundance of information and communication. Looking and the combined timeline, one participant summarized the feeling in the room: ‘It’s all negative.’

The majority of the people in the room though had taken part in the pre-conference Positive Participative Innovation workshop, and questioned their negativity in light of their recent energizing and productive experience provided by the positive approaches of AI, OST and Design Thinking. The need for a more optimistic outlook in facing these challenges was palpable in the room. Suddenly, Kristin offered her solution to the group: ‘I like to frame it as ‘I am learning how to…’’.

Her intervention was met with nods of approval and smiles. Indeed, we are living in changing times. That is a fact that all our combined experience eloquently demonstrated. Framing our own challenges as practitioners within the context of learning and humbly viewing ourselves as learners allows us to embody the principles of the learning organizations we seek to design.


Dena Duijkers,

HSI 2014

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Pre-Conference Workshop: Positive Participative Innovation

This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

The Positive Participative Innovation (PPI) workshop was an important milestone on my journey of discovering the STS Roundtable and the STS community.

I greatly appreciated the way three theories (Appreciative Inquiry, Design Thinking and Open Systems Theory) were merged to demonstrate positive participative innovation. This year the word “innovation” seems following me everywhere: in my professional work (I conducted an evaluation of an innovation project and why the intended change is not happening) and my personal development (so, what is innovation after all? And how do you define it?). I was curious to see how one can make the experience of innovation positive and participative. I loved this workshop. Everything made sense.

I greatly appreciated the diversity of participants in terms of their nationalities, professional background, interests, the way they see the world around us. Diversity is the main ingredient of any innovation: it helps to discover new perspectives on the same issue and uncover hidden dimension of possible solutions just by listening to how others see or perceive the problem.

The language used by the workshop facilitators in line with the Appreciative Inquiry philosophy: “Let’s envision the “wow” future,” “dream-storm innovations” and “model & iterate the innovations.”

I have already borrowed a number of tools that were used in the workshop:

–       Building a 3-D model to explain a concept or an idea;

–       Using visuals to explain a strategy or a proposal;

–       “Less words more visuals” was a great slogan of the day;

–       Rotating participants in each group during the initial brainstorming helps to diversify the flow of idea and, at the same time, ensures its continuity as half of the table are people from the previous discussion flow;

–       There were several seemingly unrelated objects on each table and as I learned they had their own specific purpose: to help people with various learning preferences to remain present during the workshop (Thanks you Carolyn, for a great tip!);

–       “Burning questions list” is not really new to me (thanks to Don!) but seeing it outside the class room was a powerful experience.

I would also like to underline the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and encouragement of the inter-generational sharing of knowledge, insights, and outcomes of their ongoing projects.

Khurshida Mambetova,

HSI 2015

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Pre-Conference Workshop: Positive Participative Innovation

This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.

Positive Participatory Innovation (PPI) Workshop engages participants in a live-case study on how to purposefully pursue the creation of healthy, humane, and innovative futures.

Despite all my planning and preparation, the week of the conference was harrowing, as I had to deal with a destabilizing work-related issue. My situation is not unique as many of us, perhaps too many, know that workplaces are at times sites in which larger systemic issues are played through people and by people, as victims and perpetrators caught in the web of a maladapted society.

In a turbulent environment in which feeling unsafe at work is just one item on a depressingly long list of issues, the PPI workshop was a hopeful experience. It was beautifully designed by DBD (Don, Bernard, Doug) and brought us together to build on each other’s strengths while experiencing work in a productive and innovative temporary organization.

Although the groups experienced occasional fight/flight dynamics, my first ‘striking’ moment happened during the second day of the workshop, when participating in a large- group-data-clustering exercise. As I experienced the high-energy of a creative working mode, that might be the exact time when I realized that people with diverse affiliations and backgrounds are truly building on each other’s work and generating a great momentum for future collaboration.  As we were envisioning an issue-based ecosystem for more humane workplaces, I started to feel less tired, more energized, and definitely engaged.

Now, we are back in our organizations, communities, and families. Will we (GLOWIN) be able to maintain this momentum? Can we embody and enact in our local networks and workplaces the changes that we want to create?

Aurelia L. Roman,

HSI 2010

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