Job descriptions and workflow diagrams idealize work practice-they
differ in detail and often in quality from how people actually
spend their time. Improving the design of work systems requires
relating how organizations, procedures, facilities, and tools
interact in practice. Work activities, the unit of analysis
of work systems, include not only assigned jobs, but also
"off-task" activities (e.g., waiting), non-intellectual motives
(e.g., hunger), sustained goals (e.g., playful interaction),
the interplay between individual and group goals and ambitions
and the work-group's goals and ambitions, and coupled perceptual-motor
dynamics (e.g., following someone).
Research at IHMC involves relating diverse analytic concepts
such as scripts, human factors, behavior settings, ensemble,
and situated action. A simulation model makes the relationships
concrete, through the explicit modeling of groups of agents,
body states (e.g., posture), beliefs, communications, tools,
and the physical setting.
Comprehensive work practice simulations, combining social
and psychological perspectives, improve the understanding
of human cognition, promote learning, and will lead to better
tools, including computer automation and robotics.