These are the core requirements for productive work, as identified by fred emery and eric trist in 1964. Analysis of these is how every participative design workshop starts and review of these is how every redesign workshop ends.
The analysis is done on flipcharts, in small groups that fill out a matrix with their names across the top and the 6 (8 including subparts) requirements down one side. They have an objective conversation about each of the 8 factors and each person assigns rates what the system is doing for/to them on each of the 8 needs. The product is quantitative but the real learning comes from the stories told to explain each number posted by each person. It makes clear what is missing in the current structure and what we're shooting for with the design of the new one. It's also easy to see how these things get taken care of in open space...
Because the first three requirements need to be optimal for each individual, they are scored from -5 (too little) to +5 (too much), with 0 being optimal, just right.
The second three requirements need to be maximized because you can never have too much of them. They are scored from 0 (none) to 10 (lots).
The completed matrix will express the range of scores across the group, to focus and direct redesign efforts.
1. Adequate Elbow Room for Decision Making
The sense that people are their own bosses and that, except in exceptional circumstances, they do not have a boss breathing down their necks. Not so much elbow room that they just don't know what to do.
2. Opportunity to Learn on the Job and Keep on Learning
We accept that such learning is possible only when people are able to: a) Set goals that are reasonable challenges for them, and b) Get feedback on their work in time for them to correct their behavior.
3. An Optimal Level of Variety
People can vary the work so as to avoid boredom and fatigue, and so as to gain the best advantages from settling into a satisfying work rhythm.
4. Mutual Support and Respect
People can and do get help and respect from co-workers. This means avoiding conditions where it is in no one's interest to lift a finger to help another, where people are pitted against each other so that "one person's gain is another's loss" or where the group interest denies the individual's capabilities.
A sense of one's own work making a valuable contribution to the organization and society. Meaningfulness includes: a) the social worth and quality of a product and b) the understanding of the whole production or service process. Many jobs lack meaningfulness because workers see only a small part of the final product.
6. A Desirable Future
Room to grow along a career path that will continue to allow personal development and an increase in skills. Not a dead-end job.
The more people understand coming into the PD sessions -- about why they're doing their work, what broad parameters they must work within, why those parameters are there, and how their work is expected to contribute to the success of the organization -- the faster we can get to work on the question of how the group should organize itself to do really great work.
It helps to talk in advance with people about the these kinds of issues:
If they can show up already understanding the strategic challenges the organization is facing and how they're expected to contribute to meeting them, they'll be much better prepared to organize themselves to do great work.