Making sense of usability : Organizational change and sensemaking when introducing user-centred systems design in public authorities

Abstract: Computers have become an everyday encounter, not at least in work settings. These computers must support the user in order for her to work in an effective and efficient manner. The field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) has among other things been focusing on this issue, and there are numerous methods and activities that aim at helping developers to develop usable computer systems. However, the methods and activities must be used in practice in order to be beneficial, not only within research, thus the methods must make sense to the system developers, as well as the organization in which they shall be applied. Furthermore, the organization must change in order to incorporate these methods and activities, and this change must impact a larger part of the organization than just the IT-department.My research has revolved around the introduction of usability methods in public authorities, in particular user-centred systems design (UCSD). My methodology has been action research, which implies a close collaboration with practitioners. Some of the methods used to gather data have been interviews, participatory observations, research diaries and field studies.In this licentiate thesis I present my work up to date and the theories that have informed my understanding of organizations and organizational change. Furthermore I have been influenced by the sensemaking theory, which can be used in order to understand how people make sense of technology, methods and organizational change. With the help of these theories, I extend my results further than presented in the papers.The notion of organizational change when introducing usability issues has not achieved sufficient attention in the HCI-field. This thesis is a step towards an understanding of this issue. Furthermore, I have, with the results from my papers together with the theories presented shown that although formal documents can be used to promote change, it is not enough. Rather there is a need to further explore the interplay between formal aspects and the situated work, and how to enhance sensegiving in this sensemaking process.