Today’s socio-technical systems (STSs) are more open to their external environment than ever before. There are now so many more technologies to connect to at all levels of the system. As the environment (and the tools and technologies within it) changes more often and rapidly, so do STSs. Simultaneously, the nature of work has changed as these technologies have become more widespread and increasingly sophisticated and connected. Adaptive socio-technical systems provide a systemic approach to describe this changing world. These systems are needed to deal with the constant flux in systems and organizations that is partly due to disruptive technologies. We describe why we need adaptive STSs, noting the potential downside to adaptation. Organizations can remain resilient by using sensitization and constructive engagement to exploit the opportunities provided by adaptive STSs. We are starting to compile a set of characteristics that can be used to define adaptive STSs with a view to identifying ways to make systems and organizations more adaptive, while still maintaining resilience.
Werfs, M., Baxter, G. Towards resilient adaptive socio-technical systems. Published in: Proceedings of the ECCE ’13 Proceedings of the 31st European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics, ACM New York, NY, USA, 2013.