8.4    The Model Dissemination Phase

The requirements to the model dissemination phase of Tema differ from the requirements to the development phase. Figure 8.4 outlines the dissemination phase.

8.4.1    Objectives of the dissemination phase

The overall objective of the dissemination phase is to contribute to the sense-making process both in the project group and the enterprise audience, and at the same time build confidence in the artifacts that have been developed. The enterprise audience may offer alternative insights to the project group (i.e., a claim that makes sense to the project group may be considered as nonsense by the enterprise audience, or the project group may have overlooked aspects of the domain).

Hence, the project group must not hold on to the artifacts they have constructed and claim them to represent the only truth. The perspectives of the enterprise audience must be taken into account. This is a consequence of seeing enterprise modeling as illustrated in both the development and the dissemination phases involve both perspective making and perspective taking.

Figure 8.4: Enterprise model dissemination phase in Tema
 
 
When the process group in TEK-S presented their enterprise models to the chief engineers at WS3, there were lots of comments to the models' contents. One comment that illustrates the problem of deciding what is correct was the categorization of a phenomenon as a threat to Statoil. The actor in the enterprise audience claimed that the phenomenon was no threat. On the contrary, in his view, it was a great opportunity. Both assessments were valid, but the implications of having only one of the views on reality is profound: A perceived threat implies a defensive attitude, while an opportunity is something to take advantage of.
Assertion 16 suggests that an effective use of enterprise models is as a structuring device, e.g., to be used in presentations where the model is accompanied by an explanation. This is also an intended use of enterprise models in Tema.

8.4.2    The dissemination process

Tema does not prescribe any strict sequence of activities that have to be accomplished in the dissemination phase, but rather propose some activities that may be carried out. The relative importance of activities depends upon the forums and media used for dissemination. When to do what is left to the actors' discretion (preserving the flexibility of Tema).

Activities in the dissemination process

The main activities in the dissemination process include the following:
    1. Involve the enterprise audience.
    2. Present exposed artifacts.
    3. Allocate attention to the exposed artifacts.
    4. Pose questions.
    5. Provide and incorporate feedback.
In addition, administrative tasks, like arranging meetings, taking minutes, etc. must be taken care of, but that is assumed to be a part of the ordinary project activities.
1. Involve the enterprise audience
The enterprise audience must be made aware that the artifacts are available and that they are expected to provide feedback. They also need guidance on where to find the presentations and active stimulation to read them (assertion 19).

When the dissemination forum is a meeting, involvement implies being invited and expected to attend the meeting, and being active in the discussions concerning the enterprise models and subsidiary artifacts. When the forum is a Web presentation with a bulletin board associated, involvement requires knowing how to access the presentation and how to take part in the discussions on the bulletin board. In both situations, involvement implies that the enterprise audience must have access to communication processes where some of the modelers take part and may explain more extensively the intention of each artifact (assertion 18).

2. Present exposed artifacts
Presentation of exposed artifacts to an enterprise audience implies creating a coherent chain of arguments and a rational walk-through, in addition to exemplification and the use of other pedagogical devices. Presentation of models also includes explanation of models (assertion 21) and storytelling (assertion 23).

The presentation ought to match the preunderstanding of the audience. With a meeting as the dissemination forum, the presentation can be adjusted as the presenting actor faces questions that indicate problems in understanding the message. Using the Web for presentation of artifacts does not offer the same opportunity. However, the problem of not being able to adjust the presentation can be countered by allowing presentations to be layered and linked (utilizing the medium, assertion 24) and the use of a bulletin board system or email with access to model developers (assertion 18).

3. Allocate attention to the exposed artifacts
The enterprise audience have to set aside sufficient attention to make sense of the exposed artifacts (assertion 26). What constitutes "sufficient attention" is not attempted answered here, but the problem has to be kept in mind. Developing extensive models with a lot of intricacies and long descriptions to be read may have the consequence that models are not read at all due to lack of time in the audience.
 
In the technology strategy project, the amount of information produced was so large compared to the attention the project participants had to spare that some of the documents were not read by all participants. The effect was not observed for models, as all the models were fairly simple (page 135).
Hence, if enterprise models for some reason become large, they ought to be represented in such a way that actors with variable amounts of available attention may read more or less of the models and accompanying information, and still attain a general understanding of the contents. This is possible if the strengths of Web as a medium is fully utilized (assertion 24).
4. Pose questions
The enterprise audience may improve or ensure their understanding of the artifacts by asking questions. Questions may also be recorded by the project group, as frequently asked questions can be distributed along with the artifacts (as was observed in TEK-S for the Web version of the strategy).

The opportunity to pose questions can be supported both when the dissemination forum is a meeting and when it is a Web document. In a meeting, the posing of questions is obvious. When reading a Web presentation, the use of email (as in the strategy project) or a bulletin board system may be sufficient.

5. Provide and incorporate feedback
When the enterprise audience provide feedback on the presentations, their comments have to be taken into account. There are three ways to handle comments: To discard them due to perceived irrelevance, to ask for a clarification of what is meant by the comments, or to incorporate them in the model. Independently of the chosen reaction, the audience ought to be informed of the action taken.

When the dissemination forum is a meeting, the feedback must be recorded in some way. In the strategy project (WS3), the comments received when a WG leader presented were recorded by one of the other actors from the same WG. In this way, the presenting actor was free to concentrate on responding to the comment, while the recording actor had intimate knowledge of the issue in question (at least more than an arbitrary scribe would have had).

When comments are received by email or on a bulletin board, the posting actor may receive a confirmation on receipt. In case of a question, the question may be added to a FAQ list, like in the strategy project.

Reflections on the dissemination process

In Tema, the dissemination process is considered a construction process just as much as the development process. When the presenting actor from the group of modelers meets the enterprise audience, the discussions influence the meaning of the presented artifacts. This must be communicated back to the project group.

In summary, the main Tema requirement to the dissemination process is that the enterprise audience are effectively involved in the construction process of the artifacts, being able and allowed to contribute in the enterprise level perspective making process through effective perspective taking.

8.4.3    Exposed artifacts

Only a carefully selected set of the artifacts from the development phase are to evolve into exposed artifacts in the dissemination phase. Many alternative artifacts may clutter the dissemination process (competing for attention from the audience), making the enterprise audience unable to cope with all variants and versions (assertion 26).
Figure 8.5: Example of enterprise model integrated with subsidiary artifacts in Tema

Given the assumption that enterprise models and related artifacts are created as a part of developing other artifacts (i.e., they are not the ends in themselves) and that the artifacts are represented using a digital medium, the various components may be integrated. An illustration is provided in . The use of a hypermedium for representation of boundary objects is also advocated by Boland and Tenkasi (1995:364).

Enterprise models

Tema does not pose any explicit requirements to enterprise model expressions. As seen from the empirical studies, enterprise models created for human sense-making may take on a variety of forms. The impressions, however, must involve a description of what may be called an enterprise.

In other words, a rather non-presumptionistic view on enterprise models is advocated. Their contents and structure have to be developed and tailored to each particular need. A few alternatives will be discussed along with the pool of techniques in chapter 9.

One requirement is that an enterprise model must have both elements and structure that a computer can recognize. The main rationale of this requirement is that elements may be connected to other elements or artifacts, e.g., other models, metaphors, narratives, explanations, characterizations of terms, a FAQ, etc.

Subsidiary artifacts

Additional, exposed, subsidiary artifacts (term characterizations, explanations, narratives and metaphors) are discussed in more detail as a part of the techniques that make up the pool (sections 9.2.2, 9.2.8, 9.2.9 and 9.2.10, respectively). Hence, they are not discussed here. Recall that the artifacts play a role both in the development phase and the dissemination phase (assertion 17).

The only hesitation to be made here concerns the use of narratives outside the communities from which they originated. Brown and Duguid (1991:54) state that

"In some form or another the stories that support learning-in-working and innovation should be allowed to circulate. The technological potential to support this distribution e-mail, bulletin boards, and other devices that are capable of supporting narrative exchanges is available. But narratives, as we have argued, are embedded in the social system in which they arise and are used. They cannot simply be uprooted and repackaged for circulation without becoming prey to exactly those problems that beset the old abstracted canonical accounts."
The problems associated with abstracted canonical accounts revolve around the attribution of meaning that stems from being a practitioner (i.e., from having competence within the domain). When a narrative is disseminated in a community without competence in the domain described in the narrative, it is reasonable to assume that the meaning of the narrative is interpreted differently than in the originating community.

An immediate question is: Why develop and disseminate narratives when stripping their context decreases their value as accounts of non-canonical practice? One may argue that they still play an important role outside of the originating community-of-practice, as they are far more concrete than all of the enterprise models that have been observed in the empirical studies. The narratives also play a part in a communication process, enabling a more correct interpretation (as a part of a larger perspective making process). The objective of dissemination of enterprise models is not to become a practitioner, rather to learn about practice.

8.4.4    Enterprise audience

The only requirement Tema poses to the enterprise audience is that they have competence in use of computers for communication and accessing information. They must be able to use the Web to find information (exposed artifacts), read and contribute to discussions on a bulletin board and communicate via email. Knowledge is not sufficient, they must be competent users (assertion 25).
 
The Statoil corporation have made a major move towards ensuring that all employees reach a certain level of competence in using computers. All employees have been offered a powerful multimedia computer with free Internet access at home (Statoil, 1997c). They are explicitly not expected to work on job related issues at home their only obligation is to follow a series of lessons (involving exercises). In this way, Statoil can ensure that practically all of their employees have a set of basic skills, including competence in Internet communication services (email, Usenet News and World Wide Web).

8.4.5    Forums and media for dissemination

The forums and media proposed to be a part of the dissemination phase of Tema provide more variation than in the development phase.

Dissemination forums

In Tema, two forums for dissemination of enterprise models are proposed:
  1. Face-to-face meetings for presentation of models and subsidiary artifacts when the need for rapid feedback is required. A meeting (e.g., a workshop) is the primary forum when communication intensity ought to be high.
  2. Shared databases and bulletin boards when requirements to communication intensity are lower, but availability is important.
In meetings, the typical medium is either foils or a computer with video projector attached. Using a computer for presentation purposes combines the expressiveness of the digital medium with the communication bandwidth of the meeting.

Using an Intranet, Tema proposes use of World Wide Web technology, integrated with a discussion group system and email for communication purposes. In addition, enterprise internal newspapers, etc. can be used to increase awareness (supporting the involvement activity in section ) and raise curiosity.

To make the enterprise audience provide relevant feedback to the project group requires setting aside time and resources for face-to-face meetings (allocate attention). Actors can not be assumed to provide feedback by themselves (assertion 19). The strategy in Tema is to create arenas enabling communication, and communicate expectations to the enterprise audience, utilizing the arenas to provide feedback.
 
A potential problem in the dissemination phase is that expressions are disseminated without being embedded in any communication process. It may be unavoidable that the enterprise audience come across artifacts that are not a part of a communication process, but the problem can be reduced if a forum for communication is associated directly with the artifacts.
 

If the "strategy development process" element of the Web version of the strategy document in TEK-S had been developed (page 120), it could have been integrated with a discussion group for queries concerning the progress of the project.
 

Dissemination media

The two major media advocated by Tema are paper and World Wide Web (or equivalents). Paper and a digital medium like World Wide Web have fundamentally different properties for interaction, representation, manifestation and distribution. Without going in detail on media properties, some characteristics of value to Tema will be pointed out.

Paper is stable, familiar to write and read, and easy to comment upon. However, it is static (no behavior), highly sequential to read, and cumbersome to distribute. Further, there are no explicit connections between elements in a document (in the sense that all relationships must be interpreted and associated by the human reader).

World Wide Web requires access to a computer, is cumbersome to annotate, and not easy to interact with for multiple actors simultaneously. The positive aspects related to Tema are instant distribution, multiplicity of structuring of information, and explicit connections between elements (i.e., Web is a hypermedium, Akscyn, McCracken and Yoder, 1988:820). An enterprise model may have links to discussion groups, to actors responsible for parts of the model, to stories that exemplify model elements and explanations. The model may easily be integrated with other information on an Intranet, as illustrated in .

World Wide Web was originally developed as a means for members of geographically dispersed professional communities to communicate over the Internet (W3C, 1997). It has the basic functionality required to assist in both enterprise model dissemination and to some degree development (the role in Tema is in dissemination).

When choosing a digital medium like World Wide Web, a main success criterion is to write for the medium (Elvekrok et al., 1995:48). To take a paper document and distribute it as is on the Web will hardly represent any improvement. On the contrary, the document will loose the attractive properties of a paper document and be inferior to the paper version. Consequently, the actors preparing exposed artifacts must be competent to exploit the strengths of the medium (assertion 24).