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Idealized system design produces requirements reflecting management intentions and “best practices.” This paper proposes a workaround design system (WDS) for anticipating, designing, and/or preventing workarounds that bypass systems as designed. A WDS includes a process and an interactive “workaround design tool” (WDT) for identifying and evaluating foreseeable workarounds based on work system theory and a theory of workarounds. This paper summarizes the conceptual background and explains the form, use, and implications of the proposed WDS and WDT.

The idea of WDS addresses significant gaps in practice and research. Designers should have methods for identifying likely obstacles and anticipating and evaluating a non-trivial percentage of plausible workarounds. Methods for identifying workarounds might help in training work system participants. Researchers might use WDS to explore why specific responses to obstacles did or did not occur. The lack of methods related to anticipating, designing or preventing workarounds implies that WDS may prove fruitful even though it is impossible to anticipate all possible workarounds.


A substantially abbreviated version will appear in the Proceedings.