Using cognitive work analysis to explore system flexibility

Daniel P Jenkins, Neville A Stanton, Guy H Walker, Paul Salmon, Mark S Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The presented work describes a structured approach for identifying flexible
working practices in complex socio-technical systems; further, it presents a
framework for the elicitation of design changes capable of increasing system
adaptability. The proposed approach uses the first three phases of the
cognitive work analysis framework: work domain analysis; control task
analysis; and strategies analysis. Functions are extracted from an abstraction
hierarchy; these are then explored in a number of different situations using a
contextual activity template. These functions are then explored in greater detail
with the strategies analysis phase. The contextual activity template is used to
identify situations where functions are unable to perform; in order to increase
the flexibility of the system, new strategies are then proposed and represented
in strategies analyses flow diagrams. To communicate the approach, it is
introduced using the familiar, domestic domain of an ‘Apple iPod’. The paper
presents a structured approach based upon cognitive work analysis for
exploring system flexibility. The case study presented, an Apple iPod, shows
how design changes to the system can be informed by this approach.
This paper takes an existing approach and clarifies the link between analysis
and design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-150
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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