June 19 was the seventeenth meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. The registration was on Eventbrite .
Theme: Systems Thinking and the Socio-Technical Perspective
June 19 represents the second in a series of three sessions reviewing developments in systems thinking associated with the history of the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations. It is preceded by:
May 15: Systems Thinking and the Socio-Psychological Perspective;
with neither of the sessions required as a prerequisite. Each meeting focuses on the reading for that month. The three-part series will be confirmed for conclusion on July 17.
The Socio-Technical Systems Perspective is generally the best-known of the three originating from Tavistock, first developed in research with the coal mines in Yorkshire, England.
Eric Trist and Ken Bamforth, "The Stress of Isolated Dependence: The Filling Shift in the Semi-Mechanized Longwall Three-Shift Mining Cycle", The Social Engagement of Social Science, Volume II: The Socio-Technical Systems Perspective, at http://moderntimesworkplace.com/archives/ericsess/sessvol2/Trist___Bamforth_1.pdf (originally written in 1951).
The original of the concept is described in the "Introduction to Volume 2" by Eric Trist:
The socio-technical concept arose in conjunction with the first of several field projects undertaken by the Tavistock Institute in the coal-mining industry in Britain. The time (1949) was that of the postwar reconstruction of industry in relation to which the Institute had two action research projects.
One project was concerned with group relations in depth at all levels (including the management/labor interface) in a single organization -- an engineering company in the private sector.
The other project focused on the diffusion of innovative work practices and organizational arrangements that did not require major capital expenditure but which gave promise of raising productivity.
In the "Introduction: Shaping a New Field", reflections were done in the 1980s back into the 1950s.
The immediate step in the 1950s was to make detailed and precise analyses of work situations in terms which brought out the constraining effects of psychological and social factors in the ways in which technology was being utilized; therefore the need for changing these ways. An illustrative example was the filling shift in semi-mechanized longwall coal-mining studied by Trist and Bamforth. This was the first time such study was undertaken.
Participants should not feel limited to this suggested pre-reading, but should recognize that other attendees may have not read, or are reading differently, that article.
Bloggers are encouraged to write about their learning and experiences at the meeting. Links will be added to this page.