Information Management: The Organizational Dimension

By Michael J. Earl | Go to book overview

19 The Successful Design of Expert Systems: Are Ends More Important than Means?

ENID MUMFORD


Introduction

This chapter provides a case study example of the design of an expert system. The system was developed as a participative venture by a technical team and the future users who were sales staff. The author presents it as an example of how participation can assist the creation of shared values, commitments, and objectives in employment situations where relationships are traditionally contractual. The chapter shows how the success of the system was greatly influenced by the processes that were used in its design.


The Relationship of Means to Ends

In almost all situations the nature and success of the objectives achieved are related to the means used to attain those objectives. A recognition of the relevance of this statement to business has led to the writing of many books and articles on 'how to manage change' and 'how to influence people'. Weinberg ( 1985) defines the role of the consultant as 'the art of influencing people at their request'. Macoby ( 1976) describes the different strategies which managers use to achieve results. In his book The Gamesman he sets out the qualities of the modern chief executive as: 'one who is responsive to the requirements of various corporate departments, a person who can be trusted to protect the company's growth and profit, who can inspire employees and stockholders with a sense of purpose, who takes calculated risks, who is controlled and can control gifted technical people without dampening their enthusiasm for innovation.'

With some light modification this could also be a description of the qualities of someone who is concerned with the design and implementation of new technology. This might read as follows. He or she should be: 'responsive to the requirements of user areas, a person who can be trusted

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