knowledge work

(Fr)agile objects: Thinking Scrum through Post-It Notes

ISABEL LAFUENTE Sidia WILSON PRATA Sidia Agile methodologies have taken hold as a model to be followed in software industry. Among them, Scrum is one of the most used frameworks and has a high level of acceptance among a large range of organizations. The underlying premise of Scrum is that by implementing an iterative and incremental process of development, an organization can become more efficient in coping with unpredictability, thus, increasing the chances of delivering business value. In this paper we use the context of SIDIA, an R&D center based in Manaus (Brazil), to look at how Scrum is practiced, by following Post-its notes, which are commonly used in agile landscapes. Following previous work on the idea of thinking through things (instead of thinking about things) as an analytic method to account for the ethnographic experience (Henare, 2006), the purpose here is to draw out the capacity of these objects to re-conceive the workplace. We argue that somehow the extensive use of post-its in this specific context...

My AI versus The Company AI: How Knowledge Workers Conceptualize Forms of AI Assistance in the Workplace

NANNA SANDBERG Stripe Partners TOM HOY Stripe Partners MARTIN ORTLIEB Google GSuite is changing the nature of Knowledge Work across 5 million businesses through AI-powered assistance. To ensure that this evolution reflects the aspirations and priorities of workers, Google and Stripe Partners conducted a multi-national ethnography of Knowledge Workers covering a range of industries. We identified that workers distinguish between ‘Core’ and ‘Peripheral’ work: the work they are paid to do and identify with, and the work that does not contribute to their success or happiness. Workers want assistance to enhance Core work and remove Peripheral work, nuanced across a spectrum of support. This framework and taxonomy has been adopted by teams at Google to inform strategic decisions on how AI is integrated by GSuite. New features are being implemented within Gmail, Slides, Docs and Sheets that bring these principles to life in the user experience....

Agency and AI in Consulting: Pathways to Prioritize Agency-Enhancing Automations

CENGIZ CEMALOGLU ReD Associates JASMINE CHIA Oxford University JOSHUA TAM IBM Amidst the advances of AI and automation, this paper provides a framework for ethnographic methods and insights to enhance human agency at work. Through analyzing data collected from ethnographic immersions in three different consulting firms (a professional services firm, a management consultancy, and a boutique insights agency), human-agent decisions are isolated in case studies and the pathways of unlocking the potential of automation to enhance the agency of individuals rather than constraining it are highlighted. Through drawing a distinction between thinking agency and executional agency present in the work of a consultant, this paper argues that automations that preserve thinking agency while maximizing productivity and accuracy are the solutions that should be adopted. Through vetting workflows sourced from ethnographic immersions with the established criteria, a framework for consultancies – and more broadly businesses – to better...

The Rise of the Techno-Service Sector: The Growing Inter-Dependency of Social and Technical Skills in the Work of ERP Implementers1

ASAF DARR This paper attempts to move away from portraying service and knowledge work as opposite trends in advanced economies. Instead, it maintains that a closer look at the changing nature of work will highlight the need to rearrange our aggregate occupational data so as to include special categories for a hybrid form: the techno-service sector. After presenting a typology of occupations based on the degree to which knowledge and service elements are intertwined, the paper analyze the work of Enterprise Resource Planning [ERP] implementers as a key example of techno-service work. It highlights the practices of ‘reverse customization’ and ‘translation’ performed by the implementers, which effectively combine service and knowledge work. The paper explains the growing inter-dependency of social and technical skills by the shift from the sale of a product to the sale of a process. This shift underpins the growing penetration of professional work into the heart of the industrial enterprise....