Document Type


Publication Date

January 2011


The work system method (WSM) is a systems analysis method for thinking about systems in organizations whether or not complete data and technical expertise are available. WSM's goal is to help business professionals understand and communicate about a system at whatever level of detail is appropriate. WSM treats systems as sociotechnical work systems with human participants rather than technical systems with users. It applies a static view of systems, the work system framework, and a dynamic view, the work system life cycle model. It combines those frameworks with conventional problem solving by defining the system in relation to problems and opportunities, drilling down to understand the situation in more detail, and producing a justified recommendation. Over 600 employed MBA and Executive MBA students have used various versions of WSM to produce management briefings including recommendations about IT-reliant work systems in their own organizations. While WSM can stand alone to help business professionals, it also can be used in conjunction with tools and methods from Six Sigma and software development wherever sufficient data can be collected and where technical expertise is available.