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A framework for promoting learning in IS design and implementation

Adrian Small (School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Petia Sice (School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Tony Venus (e‐skills UK, The Sector Skills Council for IT & Telecoms, London, UK)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to set out an argument for a way to design, implement and manage IS with an emphasis on first, the learning that can be created through undertaking the approach, and second, the learning that may be created through using the IS that was implemented. The paper proposes joining two areas of research namely, technology management with soft systems methodology (SSM). The framework was developed through undertaking a customer concern management project within a manufacturing organisation.


Reviewing the literature on information systems management, the learning organisation, and systems theory a proposed synergy is found. The outcome of this synergy allows a number of methodologies to be identified that are argued as suitable for IS design. From these information system development (ISD) methodologies, SSM is expanded to incorporate the principles of the learning organisation and systems theory. The expanded SSM framework is applied in practice through a process of participatory action research.


The outcome of the practical work argues for a complete framework that joins the areas of research (SSM and technology management) and emphasises other thinking from the areas of systems theory and the “learning organisation”.

Research limitations/implications

The paper concludes with a discussion on the advantages of joining soft systems with technology management but also the limitations created. Such limitations have been identified as moving from the soft, tacit issues of the design phases to the harder more structured aspects of technology implementation and management. A change in philosophy may restrict other issues from being explored. This issue needs to be focussed on in future research.

Practical implications

A framework has been developed that draws on the work of soft systems methodology (SSM) and a technology management process framework (TMPF) used in the area of technology management. By expanding the SSM model and joining it with the TMPF an attempt to give individuals and teams a practical tool to help design, implement, and manage IS with an emphasis on learning the framework promotes.


The framework provides advantages for academics, consultants and other practitioners and gives a central focus on what issues need to be accomplished more explicitly in order to undertake an ISD project.



Small, A., Sice, P. and Venus, T. (2008), "A framework for promoting learning in IS design and implementation", The Learning Organization, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 149-178.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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