Digitalization is about improving organizations by leveraging opportunities offered by digital technologies. Organizing such efforts can be a challenging endeavor, particularly in larger organizations like those we find within the public sector and the health domain. A key issue is that digitalization typically involves many complex organizational challenges, where it is difficult to identify the causes of the problems and to know how to best design interventions to address them. One approach to making sense of and addressing complex problems that have received increasing attention from researchers and design professionals is “systemic design.” The approach promotes using systems theory to make sense of complex problem situations, and to develop interventions addressing them. Although seemingly relevant in the context of information systems research and digitalization projects, the relevance of systemic design has been subject to relatively little research within this context.
In this master's project, the student(s) will explore the relevance of systemic design in digitalization projects. In the project, the students are expected to spend significant time developing an understanding of systemic design and systems theory, before embarking on a real-world project where the approach is put to the test. The project will be related to the HISP network and the DHIS2 software. The DHIS2 software is most commonly used for collecting, analyzing, and presenting routine health data. Data that is collected from health facilities on issues such as the number of malaria cases within a certain district or region in a given month is intended to inform decision-makers in planning interventions (see more details here). However, a persistent challenge we see in many DHIS2 implementations is that despite the data in the system, it is often not used as a basis for decision-making. This problem of limited “data use” is a complex problem that may have many causes, and which might be addressed with many potential interventions, perhaps of technical nature (e.g., improved and new software features) or organizational nature (e.g., improved or new work routines, roles, or standards). In the project, students will try to leverage systemic design to understand the problem and develop ideas and conceptual prototypes for potential solutions.
The details on how to carry out the project will be further discussed with the supervisors, who work closely with actors within the HISP network. One potential way of organizing the project is to spend a longer period with a HISP group, for instance, in Mozambique, where the problem can be studied in a concrete setting with local designers and organizations.