This paper elaborates on the relevance of deploying focus and effort on personal relation, in interventions for organisational innovation. Supporting the establishment of sense making and trust with Social Practice Design (SPD) approaches is found to be of primary importance in an e- Government development project. Here regional employees user-design a computer-based aid for public tender editing – a tender configurator - with the support of facilitators. The paper offers a demonstration of the mission critical relevance of the relational component in SPD, intertwined with the customary functional component, in resuming governance towards project success. We address the structural problem with infra-structural measures including open conversations to promote shared understanding, and user design laboratories to promote concept emergence and learning, while practicing relation and trust building all along. Our constructivist approach renounces from the start to solve the governance problem within a narrow managerial perspective. This experience is far from a complete experiment. But a wealth of indications and partial results have been harvested on needs, opportunities, and practices, for promoting shared understanding and trust in the project, and letting emerge idiosyncratic solutions. Our SPD approach is entrenched in the deployment of facilitator interventions in the case site, in an action research (AR) like approach employing Interactive Use Cases (IUC) as a Participative Design (PD) tool. Key is the awareness and intentionality in conceiving, proposing, co-constructing with users the appropriate path, in the context, towards desired change. A holistic, long-term commitment. Quality of the path more important, that the very goal. The SPD approach is evolved through: a) the attempts from facilitators to build up personal relations of trust with managers and personnel; b) ethnographic observations; c) the analysis and awareness creation of the main traits of the extant situation in the company, through interviews, meetings, and workshops; d) the joint identification with the company’s personnel of the crucial how question e) the conception and joint co-construction of visions of solution by personnel and facilitators. PD techniques employed as special measures include: user laboratories, learning sessions, design sessions. We judge the quality of the SPD approach by three requirements (Baskerville and Myers 2004): a contribution to practice (the action), a contribution to research (the theory), the criteria by which to judge the research, and we show explicitly how the research in the case meets these criteria.
Cattani, Claudia; Calzà, Diego; and Jacucci, Gianni, "APPLYING LESSONS LEARNED FROM COUNSELLING: ON NURTURING RELATIONS IN E-GOVERNMENT PROJECTS" (2008). MCIS 2008 Proceedings. 27.