Informed Systems: Enabling Collaborative Evidence Based Organizational Learning
Objective – In response to unrelenting disruptions in academic publishing and higher education ecosystems, the Informed Systems approach supports evidence based professional activities to make decisions and take actions. This conceptual paper presents two core models, Informed Systems Leadership Model and Collaborative Evidence-Based Information Process Model, whereby co-workers learn to make informed decisions by identifying the decisions to be made and the information required for those decisions. This is accomplished through collaborative design and iterative evaluation of workplace systems, relationships, and practices. Over time, increasingly effective and efficient structures and processes for using information to learn further organizational renewal and advance nimble responsiveness amidst dynamically changing circumstances.
Methods – The integrated Informed Systems approach to fostering persistent workplace inquiry has its genesis in three theories that together activate and enable robust information usage and organizational learning. The information- and learning-intensive theories of Peter Checkland in England, which advance systems design, stimulate participants’ appreciation during the design process of the potential for using information to learn. Within a co-designed environment, intentional social practices continue workplace learning, described by Christine Bruce in Australia as informed learning enacted through information experiences. In addition, in Japan, Ikujiro Nonaka’s theories foster information exchange processes and knowledge creation activities within and across organizational units. In combination, these theories promote the kind of learning made possible through evolving and transferable capacity to use information to learn through design and usage of collaborative communication systems with associated professional practices. Informed Systems therein draws from three antecedent theories to create an original theoretical approach.
Results – Over time and with practice, as co-workers design and enact information-focused and evidence based learning experiences, they learn the way to decision-making and action-taking. Increasingly more complex experiences of information exchange, sense making, and knowledge creation, well supported by workplace communication systems and professional practices, further dialogue and reflection and thereby enrich analysis and interpretation of complexities and interdependencies.
Conclusions - Research projects and evaluation studies conducted since 2003 demonstrate the transformative potential of the holistic Informed Systems approach to creating robust workplace learning environments. Leaders are responsible for design of workplace environments supportive of well contextualized, information-rich conversations. Co-workers revisit both the nature of organizational information and the purpose of organizational work. As colleagues better understand the complexities of the organization and its situation, they learn to diagnose problems and identify consequences, guided by Informed Systems models. Systemic activity and process models activate collaborative evidence based information processes within enabling conditions for thought leadership and workplace learning that recognize learning is social. Enabling communication systems and professional practices therefore intentionally catalyze and support collegial inquiry to co-create information experiences and organizational knowledge through evidence based practice to enliven capacity, inform decisions, produce improvements, and sustain relationships. The Informed Systems approach is thereby a contribution to professional practice and workplace renewal through evidence based decision-making and action-taking in contemporary organizations.
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