The Change Laboratory brings work redesign closer to the daily shopfloor practice while still keeping it analytical. This brings forth a new dialectic of close embeddedness in and reflective distance from work. It brings together practice-driven redesign processes and idea-driven construction of visions for the future, which means a new dialectic of specified improvements and comprehensive visions. It brings together multiple parallel rhythms of development in work – a new dialectic of long, medium and short cycles of innovation and change. Also, it brings together the tools of daily work and the tools of analysis and design – a new dialectic of instrumentalities.
The central tool is the 3x3 set of surfaces for representing the work activity: In the time dimension of the past, present and future, there are 1) mirror surface that shows the work practices and challenging examples of problems and disturbances at work; 2) a model surface displaying the entire activity system that is used to make sense of the built-in contradictions generating the troubles and disturbances depicted in the mirror, and to construct a vision of the past and the future of the activity system; 3) ideas and tools surface in the middle of the mirror and models for the potential capabilities and emerging formations for reorganizing the activity. Workers face the surfaces aided by a scribe appointed from among them, by video equipment and additional tools such as databases and a reference library.
Ahonen, H., Engeström, Y. & Virkkunen, J. (2000). Knowledge Management – The second generation: Creating competencies within and between work communities in the Competence Laboratory. In Y. Malhotra, (ed.) Knowledge Management and Virtual Organizations. London: Idea Group Publishing, 282-305.
Ahonen, H. & Virkkunen, J. (2003). Shared Challenge for Learning: Dialogue Between Management and Front-line Workers in Knowledge Management. International Journal of Information Technology and Management, 2(1/2), 59–84.
Engeström, Y., Virkkunen, J., Helle, M., Pihlaja, J. & Poikela, R. (1996). The Change laboratory as a tool for transforming work. Lifelong Learning in Europe, 1(2), 10-17.