Situated Reflexive Change : User-Centred Design in(to) Practice

Abstract: Technology used in the Swedish workplace is perceived to be controlling, gener- ally still difficult to use, and with a low degree of usability. Even though the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) has been concerned with researching different ways of developing usable systems for at least half a century, there seem to be problems with the diffusion of the results into practice. One of the possible approaches to developing usable systems is user-centred design, and in this thesis I am concerned with the issue of introducing user-centred design and usability work in public authorities and institutions. I will present work done in two different research projects with a focus on change, where the aim has been to introduce or enhance usability work. Through a lens of social construction- ism and reflexivity I will explore the outcome of the projects and the implica- tions for the introduction of user-centred design in practice. Furthermore, I will explore whether the focus on the introduction of usability work might hinder the formation of a sustainable change in the organizations interested in devel- oping usable systems. The research question then becomes; can we introduce usability work in organizations?The answer to this question is no. Instead, we need to change our perspective from introduction to situated reflexive change: focusing on sensemaking and a situated process of ongoing change, where the stakeholders in the organization themselves must play an active and responsible part. This entails a shift from dualism to duality and a reconsideration of what our usability methods can con- tribute with. Furthermore, I will explore possible approaches to working with situated reflexive change with tools that are familiar in the field of HCI, but with an expanded scope. In particular I will discuss field studies conducted by system developers as a tool for making sense of usability issues, personas as a tool for inducing reflexivity in and on practice, and usability coaching as a sensemaking tool for both organizational stakeholders and researchers in order to understand and reflect upon change.