KNOWLEDGE-WORK DESIGN SCIENCE
Humaneering is an emerging applied human science. It focuses on the actual biopsychosocial nature of human beings and, when ready for public release, will provide any designer of human experiences (e.g., work, employment, development) with the most accurate and readily accessible understanding of people and their probable response to partially-designed infinitely complex and ever-changing conditions.
Humaneering is derived largely from the human sciences of biology, psychology and sociology, yet includes relevant knowledge from more than 200 science disciplines. With a vision of one day increasing the effectiveness, productiveness, development and satisfaction of people in many of life’s endeavors, the initial focus of the Humaneering Technology Initiative is the design and management of work performed by people.
Upon first hearing about HUMANeering, a common top-of-mind response is to think of ENGINEering, or of social engineering or even human engineering. This is understandable, as engineering has been synonymous with the 20th century, and an important foundation for many new technical capabilities and product developments.
For clarification, engineering is our universal applied physical science, derived primarily from the physical sciences of physics and chemistry, plus mathematics. The physical sciences developed far ahead of the human sciences (i.e., think Galileo, Newton).
Engineering came of age during the 19th and 20th centuries, and dominated how we imagined and constructed almost everything. This worked out well for physical projects like buildings, railroads, machines and software, but yielded disappointing results for human projects like health care, education, law enforcement and human work, moreoften discounting people to little more than physical objects.
Work Design and Management
Based on more than 200 applications of humaneering-based work design and management, it’s already clear to those involved that humaneering and engineering together will accomplish even more in the 21st century than engineering did in the 20th.
Humaneering is vital to the effective design and management of responsive, people-dependent work (aka, Knowledge Work), whereas engineering will continue to guide the effective design and management of standardized, machine-like human work (aka, Manual Work).
Work Design Archetypes
Human work is organized into roles or jobs typically made up of both Knowledge Work and Manual Work, and the proportion of each creates the position’s general charactistics and implies both, who is a good fit for the work, and how to best manage the work.
Applying humaneering to the Knowledge Work and engineering to the Manual Work will enable the highest sustainable levels of worker engagement, performance and satisfaction.
Conversely, work systems using only humaneering or only engineering are suboptimized, wasting investments in both human capital and physical capital.
Executives and managers will also find humaneering vital to overcoming the substantial costs being incurred by some organizations for human “design debt” (or technical debt), as reflected in widespread employee disengagement, voluntary turnover, undeveloped cognitive skills, stagnant productivity levels, tepid organic growth, inflexibility when faced with change, and many other organization and human performance metrics.
Much of this can be attributed to years of (a) not designing human work beyond writing up a job description and hiring specification, (b) designing human work with no more than engineering or classical management criteria, or (c) not enabling managers with the skills and discretion necessary to optimize performance that’s dependent on people.
The HUMAN sciences (e.g., biology, sociology, psychology, philosophy) were just beginning to offer broadly helpful knowledge during the Second Industrial Revolution. The PHYSICAL sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, mathematics), along with the mechanical arts (i.e., grassroots engineering), while continuing to develop, were already fueling economic development.
Management methods at that time were hand-me-downs from centralized hierarchical church and military organizations. Specialization (i.e., division of labor), simplification, standardization and repetition yielded maximum efficiency and control, and were assumed and even taught as the “one right way” to design work and manage workers.
It is not surprising that work, job and organization designs, along with management practices, treated people as interchangeable workers, and generally failed to capitalize on many productive forces of human nature (e.g., learning, self-actualization, development, adaptability). Initial attempts to apply the human sciences to human work were of no interest to the predominent mechanically minded owner-managers.
In the late 1930s, an industrial psychology scholar who was best know for his pioneering work to develop job-selection instruments (i.e., tests), Joseph Tiffin, first called attention to humaneering—the missing technology—by recognizing the additional economic value possible from human work if only the human sciences were more reasonably accessible to management.
In the ensuing years, human science scholars continued their efforts to expand and refine human-science knowledge, while consulting firms and individual practitioners applied this knowledge and pioneered increasingly comprehensive models of human behavior within work systems.
Perhaps because of these efforts, organization executives and managers are today constantly pummeled with hundreds of new “must-read” books and articles they are expected to read, distill and integrate into management practices. What manager has the time or temperament for such effort?
As a result, there is a widely acknowledged “science-practice gap” in work design and workforce management practices, plus a growing demand from stakeholders for “evidence-based” management.
The Humaneering Technology Initiative conceived the humaneering-based DesignedWork protocol to (a) narrow the science-practice gap in the design and management of human work, and (b) update the practice of management for today’s work, worker and workplace.
DesignedWork enables management to capitalize on up-to-date science-based principles and methods for human work design and workforce management, and to quickly and easily access and utilize whatever combination of design elements will work best in their specific situation.
DesignedWork . . .
Standardized manual “task work” is best designed and managed using physical science principles, or ENGINEERING. Workers respond with obedience, endurance, diligence and dependence.
Responsive biopsychosocial “knowledge work” is best designed and managed with human science principles, or HUMANEERING. Workers respond with expertise, commitment, creativity and initiative-taking.
The Humaneering Technology Initiative is a nonprofit global effort for public good. As a result, humaneering-based DesignedWork v4.0 (beta) aligns the natural self-interests of all stakeholders, which results in a virtuous culture supporting full performance. Also, it is FREE to use.
Organizations will undoubtedly incur some costs to learn humaneering and DesignedWork. For example, some current users estimate the time, difficulty and cost to learn DesignedWork v4.0 (beta) to be about the same as learning Six-Sigma.
Intellectual property (IP) licensing is utilized to prevent misuse of humaneering and DesignedWork by restricting direct access to people who can demonstrate the capability to use these principles, methods, and tools both ethically and effectively.