This book describes, for the first time in pedagogical form, an approach to computer-based work in complex sociotechnical systems developed over the last 30 years by Jens Rasmussen and his colleagues at Risø National Laboratory in Roskilde, Denmark. This approach is represented by a framework called cognitive work analysis. Its goal is to help designers of complex sociotechnical systems create computer-based information support that helps workers adapt to the unexpected and changing demands of their jobs. In short, cognitive work analysis is about designing for adaptation.
The book is divided into four parts. Part I provides a motivation by introducing three themes that tie the book together--safety, productivity, and worker health. The ecological approach that serves as the conceptual basis behind the book is also described. In addition, a glossary of terms is provided. Part II situates the ideas in the book in a broader intellectual context by reviewing alternative approaches to work analysis. The limitations of normative and descriptive approaches are outlined, and the rationale behind the formative approach advocated in this book is explored. Part III describes the concepts that comprise the cognitive work analysis framework in detail. Each concept is illustrated by a case study, and the implications of the framework for design and research are illustrated by example. Part IV unifies the themes of safety, productivity, and health, and shows why the need for the concepts in this book will only increase in the future. In addition, a historical addendum briefly describes the origins of the ideas described in the book.
"I would like to introduce this interesting and valuable book to both cognitive engineering researchers and practical system design engineers."
—Journal of Human Interface Society (Japan)
"His work is being used or tested by the U.S. Air Forces and Honeywell Industries. 'He's really one of the stars in his field…'"
—Time Magazine (Canadian Edition)
"Rasmussen sees the world in its almost overhwelming subtlety and complexity, and Vicente admirably brings that vision to his students and to this book's readers….To sum up, we have here a fortuitous collaboration of a distinguished practitioner and a talented pedagogue addressing a crucially important topic….This book should be required reading by anyone daring to design, or evaluate the design of, such sociotechnical systems."
—Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
"In this excellent book, Vicente presents a conceptual justification, expansion, and illustration of cognitive work analysis (CWA), to Rasmussen's approach. The book is outstanding as a conceptual introduction to CWA and to Rasmussen's ideas more generally….Vicente adds invaluable perspectives of his own that extend Rasmussen's ideas and connect them to recent thinking in ecological psychology and dynamic systems theory, thereby providing a new level of conceptual coherence. This book is essential reading for any human factors student, researcher, or practitioner dealing with the analysis, modeling, design, and evaluation of complex interactive systems….Vicente's book makes a convincing case that new approaches are needed and provides a scholarly yet accessible introduction to CWA as one such approach."
—Ergonomics in Design
"…instead of just presenting a set of new skills, Vicente offers a new foundation that will help you to recast your existing skills and develop a more thoughtful practice."
"…there is much in this book that is important….Vicente offers a new foundation that will help you to recast your existing skills and develop a more thoughtful practice."
—ACM Sig Chi Bulletin
"In Cognitive Work Analysis, Vicente has succeeded at putting an important theoretical approach to the analysis of cognitive work in a more pedagogical form….Presented in the context of a wealth of references that Vicente has collected and summarized, Cognitive Work Analysis is a must for anyone who wants to step out of the world of empirical research and into the world of predictive modeling in this new era of work. Young researchers may want to read it twice."
—Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing
"Thanks to crisp language, extensive and detailed examples, and an even-handed statement of both the strengths and weaknesses of his approach, Dr. Vicente has provided the clearest articulation of the emerging discipline of Cognitive Work Analysis that I've seen. This book greatly expands the foci of analyses for interface design--something that's needed doing for some time now--yet it provides a principled framework for integrating those analyses in productive ways. Best of all, Vicente never loses sight of the need to usefully apply the results of analysis, thereby making this book a valuable tool for industrial human factors engineers as well as those in academia."
—Dr. Christopher A. Miller
Honeywell Technology Center
"For years, Jens Rasmussen and his Danish colleagues have pioneered the analysis of cognitive work, developing a framework for understanding how people interact with complex systems. Rasmussen's work has been extremely influential within the small circle of experts on human-machine systems research. In this important book, Kim Vicente provides a detailed review of Rasmussen's contributions, putting them into the broader context of research and practice within cognitive science, cognitive engineering, human factors and ergonomics, and psychology. Vicente has added great value to the original work, putting it all together into a coherent theoretical framework, buttressed by case studies that show how the theory is grounded in practice. The approach is of immense theoretical and practical value: had the techniques been followed, major industrial accidents could either have been avoided or their impact minimized. This book is an important contribution to our understanding of human activity, of the design of systems, and to the interplay of theory and practice within the cognitive sciences."
—Donald A. Norman
Professor Emeritus, University of California, San Diego, and Management Consulta
"While I felt sympathetic to Rasmussen's goal and approach, until reading Vicente's book I had no coherent overarching picture of what Rasmussen was really up to. Vicente's book admirably remedied this deficiency. The content, organization, readability, and pedagogy of this book are all excellent. I also like Vicente's humility appropriately coupled with his advocacy. It was a pleasure reading the book, which taught me a great deal."
—Stuart E. Dreyfus
Professor Emeritus of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, University
"Currently, there is a resurgence of interest in the context of work and its application to design. A number of recent books are full of good practical advice on field studies and task analysis. To my mind, none provide the scope and theoretical structure that Professor Vicente does. His approach brings a coherence and breadth that will help practitioners as well as researchers."
—Marshall McClintock, PhD
Usability Group Manager, Microsoft Corporation
"Vicente's book contains crisp language, extensive and detailed examples, and an even-handed statement of both the strengths and weaknesses of his approach. It is the clearest articulation of the emerging discipline of Cognitive Engineering that I've seen. Best of all, Vicente never loses sight of the need to usefully apply the results of analysis, thereby making this book a valuable tool for human factors engineers in industry, as well as those in academia."
—Christopher A. Miller, PhD
Senior Principal Research Scientist, User Centered Design, Honeywell Technology
"For some time now, I have been interested in the work of Jens Rasmussen and Kim Vicente. A dive into their work is a must for all cognitive engineers/psychologists within the field of man-machine interaction. What has been lacking from their work however, is an overall framework. What is the relation between the SRK taxonomy, direct perception, the decision ladder etc.? In this book Kim Vicente presents such a unifying framework for a 'formative' approach to design of complex sosiotechnical systems. The first five chapters brilliantly summarise the problems related to the current establishment within the field. Normative approaches and a representational approach to human cognition neccesarily leads to problems of how to design for the unanticipated. For those familiar with the EID approach, buy this book NOW. For those who are not, I would recomend also reading some of the earlier material."
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Contents: J. Rasmussen, Foreword. Preface. Part I: Introduction. What's in a Word? (Glossary). What's the Problem? Scope and Criteria for Success. Why Work Analysis? An Ecological Perspective. Part II: Three Approaches to Work Analysis. Normative Approaches to Work Analysis: "The One Best Way?" Descriptive Approaches to Work Analysis: "What Workers Really Do." Toward a Formative Approach to Work Analysis: "Workers Finish the Design." Part III: Cognitive Work Analysis in Action. Case Study: Process Control. Phase 1: Work Domain Analysis. Phase 2: Control Tasks Analysis. Phase 3: Strategies Analysis. Phase 4: Social Organization and Cooperation Analysis. Phase 5: Worker Competencies Analysis. Implications for Design and Research. Part IV: Final Words. Designing for Adaptation: Safety, Productivity, and Health and the Global Knowledge-Based Economy. Appendix: Historical Addendum.