Designing for Adaptation:
Safety, Productivity, and
Health and the Global
Unpredictability is a source of disturbances throughout the lifetime of the
system. . . . attempts to fight against them are also continuous.
-- Norros ( 1996, p. 175)
Change is the invariant, not knowledge.
-- Blum ( 1996, p. 160)
In this capstone chapter, we have three final objectives. The first is to discuss how
the CWA framework is intended to improve safety, productivity, and worker health.
Our second objective is to address a number of caveats that we hope put our claims
in perspective and thereby minimize any misunderstandings. Finally, our third objective is to briefly discuss the trend toward a knowledge-based global economy
and how this trend is increasing the requirement for adaptation on the part of
workers, managers, organizations, and technology. Given the characteristics of the
knowledge-based global economy, the need to design computer-based systems that
support adaptation, and thus the need for CWA, will only increase in the future.
HOW DOES COGNITIVE WORK ANALYSIS ADDRESS
SAFETY, PRODUCTIVITY, AND HEALTH?
Three Problems: Briefly Revisiting the Evidence
In chapter 1, we introduced three perspectives that can be used to evaluate the
success of a complex sociotechnical system, namely safety, productivity, and worker
health. An effective sociotechnical system should have an acceptable level of safety,
should lead to a high level of productivity, and should not jeopardize worker health.
We also cited a body of evidence to indicate that corporations are currently having
difficulty satisfying each of these three criteria. To give just one example from each
criterion, it has been estimated that:
|• ||Abnormal situations in the petrochemical industry have an annual impact of
$20 billion on the U.S. economy alone ( Bullemer & Nimmo, 1994).|