We are “STS” design theorists and practitioners who come together as a professional learning community
Founded in 1986, we are a global (not-for-profit) network of business leaders, researchers, trade unionists, academics, managers, consultants, and students—who share the values, theory, and practice of “sociotechnical systems” (STS) design, with a common interest in developing more humane and effective organizations. As of 2005, we are also a not-for-profit corporation.
We are results-driven organization designers who take a systems approach focusing simultaneously on 3 dimensions, to achieve Quality of Organization (for efficient/quality delivery of products and services), Quality of Working Life, and Quality of Working Relations. Our core value is the active participation of people in inventing their own lives in work or community. A core principle is to optimize the interaction of people and technology.
Mission – Purpose
The purpose of the Roundtable is to provide an open environment in which to share research, knowledge and practice, and to support individual and community efforts in sociotechnical systems design innovation. As members of this professional learning community, we continually devote time and energy to advance the connections between the principles of democracy and the social and economic objectives of organizations.
The opportunities and challenges we face across the globe include:
- diminishing conditions of employment;
- rapid growth of multi-enterprise organizations;
- creation of bureaucratic and fractionated workplaces in the developing world;
- the dilemmas posed by wide and varied cultural differences in and among organizations;
- the need for long-term sustainability in the ways workplaces use their physical and human resources;
- the speed of change in information and communications technology and its impact on work; and
- the requirement for more responsive and responsible corporate governance.
In response to these demands, the members of the STS Roundtable are committed to:
- innovative work design;
- high participation in the design of work and organizations;
- new models of work and organization;
- creating and maintaining high quality working lives in workplaces everywhere;
- developing productive workplaces that treat all resources as irreplaceable;
- providing innovative solutions to enterprise problems through action research;
- sharing knowledge and fostering learning with client organizations and each other;
- supporting each other and maintaining a spirit of community among Roundtable members across the globe.
Since the 1980’s, the STS Roundtable has been an open professional learning community advancing the values, theory and practice that create healthy and powerful work systems that are demonstrably capable and responsible … better places to work and places that work better.
The values of this community are participative democracy, human dignity and social justice.
What We Do
The STS/RT’s activities consist primarily of educating both members and the public about the theory and practice of sociotechnical systems concepts through the creation of learning opportunities of various types. The STS/RT, Inc. engages in the design, hosting, and delivery of forums, panels, lectures, discussions, conferences and WEBINARS open to the public and its members; these activities are focused on the theory and practice of sociotechnical systems design, and its application to all forms of organized activity.
The organization sponsors an annual meeting that is a forum for a global network of business leaders, researchers, trade unionists, academics, managers, and consultants who share the principles and practices of socio-technical systems theory, and a common interest in developing more humane and effective organizations. Each gathering is open to non-members, and is designed to inform and educate the public as well as the MEMBERSHIP about advances in learning about socio-technical systems theory and application. In the future, it will also sponsor regional gatherings for information-sharing and educational purposes, as well as virtual information-sharing opportunities through web-based communication and collaboration.
The central purpose of the meetings is to advance learning and knowledge about the theory, research, and practice of sociotechnical systems theory, and to help support the concept of better places to work and places that work better. The STS/RT network provides opportunities for individuals to come together to study, share experiences, and learn more about the field of sociotechnical systems work. The STS/RT is an open learning community advancing the values, theory and practices that create healthy and powerful human work systems that are demonstrably capable and responsible. Through PRESENTATIONS, discussions, directed learning efforts, forums, and other group activities, these meetings provide opportunities for this open learning community to devote time and energy to learning how to advance the connections between the principles of democracy and the social and economic objectives of organizations. Meetings are open to all members and the general public, and meeting sessions are solicited from both groups.
In 2012, when the STS Roundtable went to Canterbury, England for its first meeting outside of North America, we were joined by a large delegation of STS academics and practitioners from the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. One of the outcomes of this outreach to Europe was the formation of a ‘Global STS Design Network’ co-founded by the STS Roundtable and the Ulbo de Sitter Institute (USI) located in Flanders and the Netherlands.
The initial STS Design Roundtable convened by this global partnership was held in Boston, MA and on the grounds of Harvard University in 2013. Ever since, STS Roundtable members have held their annual meeting in an international gathering of the Global Network that includes people from Australia, Asia, Scandinavia, Europe, and North America—all dedicated to the enhancement and adaptation of STS design throughout the world.
In 2015, the annual meeting of the Global STS Design Network was convened in Leuven, Belgium within a ‘Festival of Connecting’ that included over 400 participants from the European Work Innovation Network (EUWIN) and the International Workshop on Teamwork (IWOT). This was part of an effort by the STS Design Network to organize an even wider ecosystem of individuals, groups, and organizations focused on the broader issue of creating ‘Better Places to Work and Places that Work Better’.
The initiative has been called ‘GLO.WIN’—the Global Organization for Work Innovation. In September of 2015, members of EUWIN, IWOT, the European Organization Design Forum (EODF), and individual practitioners in Appreciative Inquiry, Lean Organization and other methodologies, joined with the Global STS Design Network to sign the GLO.WIN Manifesto.
In summary, for the STS Roundtable, (as an incorporated non-profit organization), the Global STS Design Network is our ‘community of practice’, and GLO.WIN is our ‘community of purpose’.