I am a Professor Emeritus at the University of San Francisco, and hold a Ph.D. from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. I extended my Ph.D. thesis into one of the first books on decision support systems. After teaching at the University of Southern California, I served for eight years as co-founder and Vice President of Consilium, a manufacturing software firm that went public and later was acquired by Applied Materials in 1998. My roles at Consilium included starting departments for customer service, training, documentation, technical support, and product management. Upon returning to academia, I wrote four editions of an information system textbook, which eventually taught me that the main topic from a business viewpoint was really IT-reliant work systems. The unique ideas in those textbooks formed the core of a book about a work system perspective called The Work System Method: Connecting People, Processes, and IT for Business Results. My articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, MIS Quarterly, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Information Systems Journal, IBM Systems Journal, European Journal of Information Systems, Service Science, Decision Support Systems, Communications of the ACM, Communications of the Association for Information Systems, other journals, and many conference proceedings.
My interest in trying to boost the odds of success for IT-reliant work systems stemmed from my industry experience, which led me to believe that our customers and staff would have benefited from an organized method for exploring the relationship between software features and work practices. The importance of focusing on work systems became apparent after several years of using student papers on real world information systems to test successive versions of methods for thinking about systems from a business viewpoint. Around 15 years ago I suddenly realized that I, the professor, had been confused about what system the students should be analyzing. Business professionals (as exemplified by these employed MBA and EMBA students) thinking about information systems should not start by describing or analyzing the information system or the technology it uses. Instead, they should start by describing the work system and identifying its shortcomings, opportunities, and goals for improvement. Their analysis should focus on improving work system performance, not on fixing information systems. (See the page on “Work System Basics”)
I live in a small town north of San Francisco with my wife Linda (see below), who is an executive and life coach. Our adult children still think we are a bit quaint, but usually not totally inscrutable. We enjoy visiting the rest of the world. My main hobby is playing cello in trios, string quartets, and other chamber music groups. I also mess around on the piano when no one else can hear the result. I take morning walks with Linda, work out at the local gym, and chop vegetables and make salads while Linda performs any high skill work required to prepare dinner.
Spending quality time with Linda before a systems analysis conference in Utah.