Measurements, feedback and empowerment: Critical systems theory as a basis for software process improvement
While organizations in software industry want to portray themselves as professional in terms of
following standards and methods, they may also have needs for improvising and short-cutting when
necessary. Such dilemmas of dual logics are sometimes internally resolved by evolving a false belief of
what is done (practice) being in correspondence to what is said (standards), regardless of what an
empirical investigation might show, something that can have poor business implications and also poor
social implications. Particularly focusing on this latter point, the meta-methodology of total systems
interventions (TSI) has been used for integrating critical systems theory with total quality
management, improving social conditions in parallel with improving business processes. Although
TSI is not designed for liberating organizations where nobody see themselves in need of liberation, the
hypothesis of this paper is that it is possible to design quality management systems as “conflict
machines”, causing sufficient social tension for more or less automatically changing “fake quality”
into “real quality”. The hypothesis is investigated by applying design research in a Scandinavian
public sector organization. The findings consist of statistical and interpretative evidence for the
success of the approach, making a contribution to how TSI can be applied in the software industry.
Ogland, Petter, "Measurements, feedback and empowerment: Critical systems theory as a basis for software process improvement" (2009). ECIS 2009 Proceedings. 344.
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