So this month, I'm breezing happily along when I pick up Keith Harrison-Broninski's Human Interactions. And here I was, to snitch a line from an old Seinfeld episode, "hoping not to have to think too much." Business adviser/jazz musician/former software designer/really deep thinker Harrison-Broninski is interested in improving and managing work processes. Offering the central message that it is people, not processes, who actually perform the work, he proposes ways of "amplifying" work by providing computer support for human- driven processes.
To get us there, he takes the elements of machine-focused Business Process Management and applies them to the study of humans at work.
Harrison-Broninski gets credit for enthusiasm—the book is a mile-a-minute tour through systems theory, pi-calculus (and I say that as if I know what it means), biology and social systems theory. I am a little concerned about some things: words like "incentivization," for instance, and the failure to acknowledge that different people in exactly the same system do not necessarily behave in exactly the same ways. And the parade of acronyms kept reminding me of the warning (was it Bruce Tulgan who said it?), "Beware the three-letter fad."
Though it will have a limited audience, Harrison-Broninski promises the patient reader new insights into improving work and work life, and new ideas for "bending computers to the work of humans, rather than the other way around." —J.L.
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