Making Work Systems Better: A Practitioner’s Reflections Luc Hoebeke

As the original link from is now dead, I’m reposting this seminal work here.


Making Work Systems Better: A Practitioner’s Reflections Luc Hoebeke

Hoebeke, Staes & Partners, Belgium

Luc Hoebeke builds on the ideas of Checkland, Beer and the sociotech school, and combines theory with practice to show how organizations work. Based on a non-hierarchical model of organizations, his book provides a framework for recognizing the mechanisms for success of organizations and improving performances by highlighting and strengthening these mechanisms. The text encourages managers to reflect on their own experiences, to avoid the chaotic detail of constant change and to concentrate on their true strategic intentions. Read more about the book in the foreword by Peter Checkland.

Keywords: Systems theory; Work systems; Organizational effectiveness

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Copyright: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works License Reference: Hoebeke, L. (2000). “Making Work Systems Better: A Practitioner’s Reflections,” Internet edition, Belgium Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems, 1(18).


Tom Hitchman picked this out from a section of the introduction:

“As human beings, we are only able to work on a human scale. We are limited to our three bits parallel processing brains and to the span of attention they provide us with. All these small scale decisions and actions may have huge effects: but these effects are mostly unintended, because we deal with ” non- trivial “ machines in the words of Sommerhof or Autopoietic systems in the words of Maturana and Varela. This makes the idea that we have control over the systems we manage visibly preposterous.

The only way a manager can do a good job is by being aware that he/she is in the centre of various networks of relations and that the only thing he/she can manage is his/her side of the relationships, being sensitive and perceptive as an observer and listener to his/her environment. And last but not least, a good manager never forgets that he/she is part of self-regulating nets and not outside them. A desperate belief in the gift of life makes it possible to suffer and to enjoy the effects upon us of the immense complex self-regulating mechanisms we are part of. ”