Although called systems, information systems in organizations are often viewed as tools that “users” use. IS success is often gauged as though it were about acceptance and usage of a tool. System development is often conceived as building computerized tools that satisfy information requirements of idealized business processes. Frequent IS disappointments and occasional failures are often attributed to inadequate user involvement, and even users involved in the projects often admit difficulty contributing fully to these technical discussions. This paper argues that the current balance between tool thinking and systems thinking in IS practice and research is slanted toward tool thinking, and that the IS discipline has done far too little to exploit the system nature of systems in organizations. Progress in that direction would fully recognize the sociotechnical nature of systems in organizations, thereby encouraging richer systems thinking than is possible in practice or in research when largely social entities and largely technical entities are treated separately. A long-term effort toward richer systems thinking in the IS field is the attempt to develop the work system method, a systems analysis method for business professionals. To date, this effort has generated innovations that may have valuable implications for systems analysis, IS pedagogy, and the development of a body of knowledge for the IS field. Many research issues for the future have also emerged.
Alter, Steven, "Desperately Seeking Systems Thinking in the Information Systems Discipline" (2004). ICIS 2004 Proceedings. 61.