This paper describes, analyses and interprets a research and development process taking place over several years concerning the evolution of a socio-technical system. By ‘sociotechnical system’ we mean a dynamic system that is socio-culturally situated and involves both human activity and technical elements. The system design, that is the focus of this research, brings together the human and technical dynamics of the intricate and highly engaging processes of effective collaboration. In particular, an investigation of the various integrated elements of the socio-technical system has provide us with the insight and confidence to build a virtual environment that actually supports innovative collaborative activities