Creating high-performance organizations: The strategic importance of collaboration software

Original author: Douglas C. Engelbart
  • Transfer
Douglas K. Engelbart
Institute for System Self-Regulation
June 1992 (AUGMENT, 132811)



Movement to the high-performance organizations of tomorrow will be associated with large-scale changes in their productive infrastructures. Making these changes is an extremely difficult task requiring a strategic approach. The collaborative software will provide important new special knowledge capabilities in these infrastructures and may play a key role in the development strategy.

1. Introduction

1.1 Shared Vision and the “Collaborative Software Community”

It seems to me that collaboration software is a means of achieving an important goal — the creation of truly highly efficient human organizations. I set out to improve the ability of our organizations to cope with complexity and urgency in the fifties. By 1962, I created a conceptual framework for achieving this goal (<Ref. 1> and <Ref- 2>). Since then, I have actually lived and worked within this system, constantly developing and enriching it with relevant experience.

Recently, in an ever-increasing flow of literature devoted to organizational improvement, quite often the need for members of the organization to have a common vision of the direction and methods of both internal and market development of the organization is emphasized. I assume that the same principle applies to a freer organizational unit, in this case, a community of organizations and researchers interested in practically coinciding areas of organizational improvement and collaboration software, including also the information systems market, which provides products and services for end users.

In my experience, the nature of this shared vision will be the single most important factor determining how directly and well the digital technology market will satisfy the significantly increased organizational productivity, which, I believe, is our main task in developing collaborative software.

My own views on the creation of highly efficient organizations over the years have taken shape in a rather comprehensive and multifaceted strategic concept. It may seem that it is of a radical nature, but I hope that it will become part of the general vision of the community.

The ultimate goals of our Institute for System Self-Regulation are to maintain a constructive dialogue with influential members of the community regarding the “strategy of system self-regulation”, to facilitate trial implementation and to promote a “continuous self-improvement” strategy.

In this article, I will briefly outline the main elements of the strategy system and show what role the “collaboration software community” will play. A detailed historical reference is given in <Reference-3>, well illustrating the circumstances under which the system developed until 1986. Also, <Link-4> gives a fairly rational description of our collaboration software and application development with the underlying system.

1.2 Productive infrastructure and its improvement system

Any high-level capability that an organization needs is at the top of a large productive infrastructure and consists of several layers of complex capabilities, each of which depends on the integration of lower-level capabilities. At the lower levels, there are two categories of possibilities: human and instrumental. The functionality of the collaboration software falls into the second category, along with a variety of equipment, objects and other tools.

When creating higher organizational efficiency, it is obvious that this infrastructure is in the center of our attention. Then, in order to determine how much of this infrastructure needs to be changed and how radical these changes should be, you should create a system and define goals. From the following considerations, I have come to the only common perspective.

In fig. 1 shows the results of thinking that over the centuries our cultures have created such rich systems of things that if a person is trained and has the appropriate training to use them, then he will be able to expand his basic genetics laid down by genetics, thereby raising his or her capabilities and capabilities to more high level. Due to the lack of an existing term, I called this process the “amplification system”, and then I realized that it needs to be divided into two parts: the system of people and the system of tools. I developed many of the components of this model that, as time has shown, proved to be useful and effective, especially all that I did for developing collaborative software (tools, concepts, strategies).

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After thinking about this model, I realized that we are still unable to change any large part of the production infrastructure in one approach, at least because they are highly dependent on people.

Since our goal is to significantly improve performance, we need to understand that we are trying to influence the development of an extremely large and complex system that has its own life and evolutionary dynamics. The parallel evolution of many parts of the system will continue anyway (as has happened for centuries). We need to accept this situation and move towards our goal by facilitating and managing these evolutionary processes. Thus, we must focus on achieving improvements and understand that this is a multi-component, co-evolutionary process. In particular, we need to pay special attention to the co-evolution of the system of tools and the system of people.

Also, along with what has already been described above, there is another factor that has had a strong influence on my developing concept.

1.3 The Consequences of a Radical Zoom

A few years earlier, I studied the problems and prospects of a radical reduction in the size of functional devices, estimated the possibility of their becoming extremely miniature, fast and cheap. I was personally interested in this, because in order to make a career in promoting the universal improvement of computers, I had to be sure that there was progress in resolving this issue.

I have learned enough to convince myself that the expected high industrial and military demand for digital technologies will bring the achievable reduction limits far beyond the limits required for my purposes. Having studied how the size of living creatures changes proportionally, I discovered an extremely important general principle: if inside a complex system the size of basic parameters changes, then at first glance quantitative changes occur in appearance, but after a certain moment, further changing the size of these parameters leads to more striking qualitative changes.

For example: In appearance, a five-foot (152.4 cm) creature is not much different from a six-foot (182.88 cm). But the structure of any of them is completely unsuitable for one-inch (2.54 cm) or thirty-foot (904.4 cm) creatures. A mosquito the size of a man could not stand, fly or breathe. A man the size of a mosquito would be almost unable to move and, for example, would be completely unable to drink from a puddle without disturbing the surface tension of water, and if his face got wet, he would most likely be dragged under the water and he would not be able to get out.

Conclusion: When a complex system effectively adapts to radical changes in critical parameters, we should expect significant qualitative changes in the assembly structure and performance.

I assume that all of the above will be true for a complex amplification system that supports the productive infrastructure of the organization. In this case, a radical change in the values ​​of the capabilities of the system of tools - speed, functionality, power, quality of presentation, transmission cycle, etc. evolving digital technology - far exceeds any other changes in system parameters that our organizations have ever had to adapt in as short a period as several decades.

Much more can be said about the scaling problem related to general organizational change. It suffices to say here that these thoughts have led me to the need to consider the opportunities and challenges facing humanity to improve the productive level of organizations and institutions, on which the survival of humanity depends, as global and large-scale phenomena.

1.4 Significance of Paradigms

Thirty years after the appearance of the model shown in Fig. - 1, I was even more convinced that human organizations can be raised to even higher levels of productivity. Modern digital technologies, which we have hardly learned to use, are a completely new type of nervous system, around which new more advanced social organisms may appear.

Taking into account the growing evidence that our organizations and institutions are not able to adequately cope with the increasing complexity and urgency of social problems, the study of each potential improvement in their ability to cope with tasks is quite motivated.

So I thought thirty years ago. It seems to me that today these ideas are even more relevant. Technology has been demonstrated, and our organizations have taken the path of internal improvement. It seems that the only thing missing is the general understanding that:

  • major changes are likely, and significant improvements are possible;
  • qualitative changes may well be needed to achieve improved performance; and
  • There should be an effective practical strategy to achieve these improvements.

The above understanding problems are important enough to bear in mind when developing a basic scalable strategy. In other words, the strategy should consider the need for significant changes in our understanding of the likely and possible future.

Understanding, shared vision, paradigms - their development is crucial, although now they are hardly paid attention to. A slow, unmanageable paradigm of the past is completely inadequate for a period when deeper changes are constantly being made and such large public entities do not have time to accept them. And such changes will be happening with greater speed.

I bring these ideas here, because I really believe that a community that uses collaboration software can drastically improve (with the right strategy) our ability to cope with big complex tasks. And whether we will have such an opportunity depends to a large extent on creating a suitable paradigm, which in itself is a difficult task, with which our institutions must do better.

This leads to the assumption that an important driving force that can be hoped for and which the key figures in the process of transforming organizations have in the early stages of developing future paradigms is an understanding of the importance and attitude to continuously contribute to the development of relevant evolutionary trends and increasing the rate of change in future paradigms. Changing our ideas about paradigms.

What role will you play?

2 Improving the improvement process

Analysis of the conceptual content of Fig. 1 and the question of which investment principles will make sense lead to an understanding of the next step in the development of a detailed strategic framework. I was hoping to get a grant and I thought how we could spend these funds most rationally to solve this global unstructured problem. I was also ready to devote the rest of my career to this: how should I manage this time in order to achieve maximum progress? And what directives should be adopted to launch (barehanded, so to speak) such a program?

As I see it, the only serious approach leading to significant improvements will be the long-term, practically directed evolution of the entire system. I researched a very complex system and the fact that the organizations in question will have to continue to function normally during extensive systematic changes, further complicate the task.

The image presented in Fig. -2, is the result of the realization that the ability of an organization to improve itself must be much more developed. It is therefore quite natural to take into account a strategy in which the earliest improvement efforts can be focused on improving this ability (i.e., improving the organization’s ability to improve itself).


3 ABC-model of organizational improvement

Before proceeding to further reflections on the actions for improvement and the possibilities of their support, I consider it useful to give here a simpler scheme of organizational improvement (Fig. - 3), which is a fragment of Fig. -2 Here we separate two types of activities: A and B and show that the possibilities for each type of work are provided by an appropriate reinforcement system (including the system of people and the system of tools).


Given this model, it is now possible to consider the prospects for improving the organization’s ability to improve, as mentioned earlier in Fig. 2, by improving the ability of B-activity. In order to pursue such an important goal turned out to be effective, one more detailed activity is required - the C-activity of the organization presented at risk level. 4. Organizational efforts aimed at obtaining and increasing funding for B-activity, improving personnel and developing a high-level approach will be regarded as activity. C. Activities C will also include the addition of new knowledge and skills to activities B, thereby providing the best means for collaborating with the client. mi A-activity or improvement of test process performance.


4 Searches for a group of multiple benefits

Considering the elements of infrastructure that support the high-level self-improving opportunity B, I realized that many of its important capabilities are also actively involved in many high-level capabilities A, which in turn are important for the core operations of the organization. For example, identifying needs and opportunities, making decisions, introducing the experience gained. All this led to the following rhetorical question:
Is there a set of basic capabilities, the improvement of which will significantly enhance both the high-level operational capabilities of A and the self-improving possibility of B?
Unconditionally yes! The main candidate immediately becomes the main set of opportunities related to knowledge.

An investment that strengthens opportunity A gives a one-time improvement. An investment that strengthens opportunity B increases the subsequent speed of improvement of opportunity A. An investment that strengthens opportunity C increases the intensity of improvement of speed of improvement. (To be precise, investments in B and C respectively increase the first and second derivatives of the improvement curve).

Here we assume that the selected products of the two opportunities-enhancing activities (B and C) can be used not only to increase the capabilities of their client activities, but also to a large extent to increase subsequent opportunities in their own activities. This is shown in Fig. 5 by feedback paths.


From this point on, the term self-cultivation firmly became the basis of my subsequent professional activity. It turns out that there are many options that we will encounter, in which weighted reflection on the possibilities of self-improvement can be important. I am confident of the potential benefits of the thoughtful application of the principles that result from such thinking.


Over the years, I have tried in various ways to name and characterize the aforementioned key knowledge abilities. The absence of the term has prompted me to create for this purpose acronym, covering the basic concepts of this group of high-level skills - PRIVZ:

P arallelnaya p azrabotka, and The integration and in nedrenie of naniya.

With increasing complexity and urgency, the need for highly efficient PRVZ capabilities will be increasingly apparent. Due to the requirement to reduce the product cycle time and the increasing amount of work performed in parallel, there is a need for unprecedented consistency between project functions and organization boundaries. However, most organizations do not have a complete understanding of what such processing of knowledge and the improvement of which aspects will bring the greatest profit.

PRVZ capabilities are not only the primary mechanism driving our organizations, but they also provide key opportunities for choosing their course of development, management, and self-resolution of problems. The collected base of practical knowledge is an extremely valuable resource. PRIVZ capabilities are crucial for most A business across the organization, both in strategic planning and in marketing, research, manufacturing, customer support, and various operations. They are also relevant to the activities of B and C in determining needs and opportunities, developing and making decisions, and implementing the experience gained. Without a doubt, all this is used in the performance of the key work of activity A. Thus,

For a better disclosure of all aspects of the PRIV, such high-tech activities should be considered as large complex projects. Fig. 6 shows the central part of the PRVZ process. In the center is the main organizational module, which is an interactive area of ​​knowledge of one person, several people or groups within a project team, department, functional unit, branch, commission, committee, entire organization, community or association (all of them can be located inside organizations, and outside it).

Each organizational unit constantly analyzes, systematizes, implements, shares, develops, applies and uses its knowledge, most of which comes from the external environment (outside or inside the organization).


The result of this continuous work with knowledge is a dynamically developing knowledge base, an example of which is shown in Fig. 7, consisting of three main areas of knowledge: information, dialogue records and knowledge products (in this example, development and maintenance documents for a complex product).

  • Information gathering: A project team of rapid response, classified as an A, B or C activity, always closely follows the external environment, obtains information from it and interacts with it. The resulting information is constantly combined with other project knowledge to identify problems, needs and opportunities that may require attention or action.
  • Dialogue recordings: Effectively responding to needs and capabilities implies a high degree of consistency and dialogue within project teams and between them. The dialogue, together with the decisions made in its course, is inextricably linked with other project knowledge.
  • Knowledge Products: Developed plans provide a complete picture of the project. This presentation includes proposals, specifications, descriptions, lists of work, information about completed stages, work schedules, personnel, technical means, budget, etc. These documents, jointly developed and discussed many times, are products of the knowledge of the project team, they reflect The current status of the project and are a plan of action. The PRIV process is a multistage process. The experience gained, as well as information and dialogues, should be constantly analyzed, systematized and incorporated into knowledge products throughout the life cycle of the process.


With the exception of small additions to the lists given in Fig. 7, such a basic model of the PRIV is equally well suited for education, heavy industry, government, medical research, social institutions, enterprises for the production of consumer goods, consulting firms, trade associations, small non-profit organizations, etc.

Here it should be noted that the basic processes of PRIVZ almost always were part of social activities. Regardless of whether the components of knowledge are contained in the mind, inscribed on clay tablets or are located in a computer, the basic process of PRVZ has always been important.

A new focus on the use of technology to achieve a truly high-performance ability of the PRVZ. As the elements of the system of people and emerging technologies for joint work develop simultaneously, we will see that the content and dynamics shown in Fig. 7 will undergo significant changes. 6k
More and more information and dialog records will be fixed and integrated, thus bringing great benefits; participants will continually develop skills and learn habits that will increase the usefulness of increased content, thereby increasing the value of their contribution to the work.

In general, I believe that people will be surprised at how useful the use of these future tools will be, how this utility will be obtained and how simple and easy to use these techniques and tools will be after their distribution. (even if at first it would seem that learning to use them is rather difficult).

Naturally, collaboration tools supporting the processes of PRIV within and between organizations should be fully integrated and compatible. Consider a large organization depicted in Figure-8, where our complex sample project can be implemented (for example, in the engineering department of a manufacturing organization).


Each of the functional units of the enterprise, located in a circle, represents the area of ​​activity that carries out at least one process of PRIV. Then, due to the fact that all the operations of the enterprise are interrelated, the PRIV processes of each sub-area of ​​the enterprise will greatly benefit from interaction with the processes of other sub-areas.

As enterprise operations become increasingly cohesive, the processes of interaction with customers, subcontractors and suppliers also tend to become extremely efficient, and thus the problem of compatibility of the field of knowledge is becoming increasingly global.

As will follow from the subsequent sections, our strategy assumes that all the knowledge tools and operations indicated in Fig. 7 will be built into the system of open hyperdocuments once. (SOG). Each participant will work in the windows at his workplace in the collective "workshop of knowledge."

With this in mind, let us consider how the region of the PRIVS of the project team, together with all internal parallel activities, will function within the larger group of the enterprise shown in Fig. 8.

Naturally, the entire enterprise, as a single organizational unit, must also have a viable PRIVZ capability and have its own developing and used PRIVZ knowledge base.

Here you can understand what is behind the concept of "simultaneity" in the definition of the PRVZ. The above PRVZ concept was introduced with the condition that all development, integration and use within this organization occur simultaneously. This sets a very important requirement for supporting collaboration.

Figure-9 shows the presentation of multi-level “nesting” of simultaneous PRIV processes in larger enterprises. Each of the multi-nested organizational units needs its own PRIV processes and knowledge base; each unit performs its PRVZ process at the same time not only with closely related units, but also with larger units in which it is included and with smaller ones that are included in it.

In addition, there are many valuable organizational units that cross organizational structures, for example, a corporate-wide team of specialists to solve a specific task, and each of these units also needs a clear PRIV process and a knowledge base. In addition, important working relationships will be maintained with external organizational elements — trade associations, professional societies, consultants, contractors, suppliers, important union members, customers, regulatory agencies and standardization groups. Each such “external” organizational element must have a well-developed area of ​​knowledge of the PRVZ; all such areas will contain some elements of knowledge and evolutionary dynamics that are associated with many other elements of the whole organizational environment of the PRVZ.


So, consider the simultaneity and interdependence arising from the current picture, in a broader sense: the PRVZ processes of all interdependent organizational units of a large enterprise occur simultaneously; and moreover, among these simultaneous active processes, many are closely related to parts of the whole knowledge base. 6y
It is easy to guess that significant parts of the work of smaller groups that collect information in the “external environment” will be knowledge with open access from other areas of the enterprise - from another dialogue, their external information or their finished / developed products.

Then, the entire enterprise will have a collective PRIS area with elements of knowledge that to some extent will actually be in the field of the whole enterprise, but where much of what lies in the collective area of ​​the enterprise will be an active part of the organizational elements of the lower levels of the PRIV .

Further, provided that highly efficient online support for PRIVS becomes widespread, suppliers, contractors and customers will be largely included in the public domain of the plant's PRIVZ. You only need to catch a glimpse of the vendor network depicted in Figure-10 in order to understand the scale and importance of compatible PRIV processes and publicly available PRVZ knowledge areas that will prevail when (or if) suitable collaboration software is widely available.


This gives an idea of ​​the scale of the global problem that, in my opinion, the collaboration software market will face.

All of the foregoing dictates some very important requirements for any groupware software system that attempts to support the PRVZ processes of our future high-performance organizations. The need for a system of very flexible general access to parts of the knowledge base is immediately apparent. Only recently it became obvious that there was a need for a new way of thinking about the nature of the form of the content of knowledge, which we call “documents”. This requirement of flexibly organized blocks of generally accessible important arbitrary knowledge is a weighty argument in favor of the fact that documents should be built from modular conceptual nodes with an arbitrary connection between hypertext nodes.

So, how (and when) will the market have enough information and be ready to cooperate so much that it develops really effective SOG standards? This day will be a big step towards achieving truly high productivity of large organizations and institutions.

This issue is a significant part of what an effective self-improvement strategy is to solve.

6 Open hyperduction system (SOG): general support for PRIVZ

My earlier assumption that the core technology supporting future high-performance work knowledge would be an integrated system based on multimedia hyperdocuments was later confirmed by experience.

In addition, there will be critical problems of interaction both within the organization and between organizations, and with their areas of expertise. The increasing value of interactive online work concluded in the hyperdocument environment will require a much greater degree of standardization in the document architecture and the use of agreements.

The fact that this service will be provided by the “open system” of hyperdocuments connected by network and server architectures is inevitable. The advantages of the system of open hyperdocuments (SOG) are described in <Reference - 5>; The features of the hyperdocument system described below, in my opinion, satisfy the requirements of SOG, the development of which will mean a lot to the productivity of industrial sectors and states.

The following is a brief description of the design of the system, which is the result of many years of experience in the practical application of the ideas described in the article. Please note that the term “system” is extremely important here.

  • Shared files / documents are the most basic requirement. Files must be shared across the global domain with any type of collective working relationship established online (i.e. worldwide).
  • Documents with different types of objects  — an arbitrary combination of text, diagrams, formulas, tables, raster images (frame-by-frame video or even live broadcast), spreadsheets, sound recordings, etc. — all of this, enclosed in a common “shell,” is stored, transmitted, read (reproduced) and printed as one consecutive object called a “document”.
  • Documents with an explicit structure  - in this type of document objects are in an explicit hierarchical structure. For access to structural relationships within multicomponent structures, you can directly access them.
  • The general address of an object that is understandable to a person - in principle, every object to which you want / need to give a link should have a unique address that can be displayed as an inscription that a person is able to read and interpret. (For example, such situations when it is impossible to give a link to an object that is inside a "frame" or "card" should not be).
  • Controlling the display of the shape of objects, sequence and content - a structured document with objects of different types, depending on the viewing options, can be displayed in different ways in the window - for this they usually resort to selective framing (organizing the viewing), filtering by content, truncated or whatever an algorithmic view that provides a more useful view of the structure and / or content of the object (including new sequences or groups of objects that are actually contained in the document). Editing the structure or content of an object from such a special view will be allowed when necessary.
  • Basic “hyperdocuments” - objects embedded in a document, called “links”, can point to any arbitrary object inside the same document or another document located in the specified document domain, and links can be activated by a user or an automatic process in order to “Go through it and see what is at the other end” or “move objects at the other end to a given place” or “launch the identification process at the other end”. (These executable processes can control peripheral devices such as a CD-ROM, video player, etc.)
  • The presence of "backlinks" in the hyperdocument - when online viewing a hyperdocument, an employee can use information about links from other objects inside this or other hyperdocuments leading to this hyperdocument or to specified objects / parts of this hyperdocument.
  • The address of the link readable and interpreted by a person  — one of the “viewing options” for displaying / printing an object’s link should be the readable spelling of the “address path” leading to the object to which the link is given; A person should be able to read the address, interpret it and go through it (find the direction "manually", so to speak).
  • Personal signature - the user can attach his / her personal signature to the document or a specific segment of the document using the personal signature key. Users can verify the authenticity of the signature and make sure that no part of the document has been changed after the signature. Parts of the signed document can be copied or moved entirely without violating the signature.
  • The ability to display the address of the object and address specifications of links on paper - in addition to employees working online and having the opportunity to follow the link (manually or automatically), people dealing with the paper version of the same document should be able to read and interpret the link and go to the referenced object in the corresponding document.

    Also suppose that an employee working with paper documents wants to have a link to this online file object. He should be able to visually determine the correct address of this object and immediately write or dictate to his colleague by phone the relevant details of the link for its further online use.
  • Hyperdocument Forwarding is an integrated general-purpose mail service that allows you to forward hyperdocuments of any size. All links are also sent along with it, so that any recipient can go through them to the desired object in another letter, shared files, or "library".
  • Hyperdocument "journal system" - an integrated library system in which a hyperdocument message or document can be presented in a form suitable for transmission (technically in the form of an e-mail), and the automatic "secretary" will assign it a catalog number, place it, notify the recipient and give him a quick search link, put it in a directory for a future search and manage all the documents. Access is provided by requesting a directory number or clicking the corresponding link. Links within newly submitted hyperdocs can lead to any part of any previous document, and the presence of backlinks allows the person reading the document online to discover and “investigate” any part of the corresponding hyperdocument that has a link leading to that part.
  • Access control - hyperdocuments in personal, group and library files may have access restriction down to the object level.
  • Control of external documents (External-Document Control - XDOC) - (not entirely related to hyperdocuments, but in this article matters). Documents that are not integrated into the online environment mentioned above (paper documentation and other documents not included in SOG) can be managed using the same “directory system” as for hyperdocuments libraries — with backlink service for designating autonomous parts of hyperdocuments (or other databases). data). SOG users can find out what information about this external data is available in the hyperdocuments system.

Pictured in fig. 11 overview, shows the working relationship between the main elements of the system described above. Pay attention to the directory sharing service, which provides logging services and external documents.


Details of the features and structure of the developed prototypes of the systems described above are given in <link -6>, <link-7> and <link-8>.

7 Four basic requirements for collaborative software architecture

In addition to the aforementioned hyperdocument transfer systems and hyperdocument libraries, which depend on special large-scale architectural features, there are at least four more important capabilities of the system of tools relevant to the following collaboration software services:

Controlling general and personal vocabulary - for the first time in the history of computer services, issues are raised development and use of common “working vocabulary” by all users of the future “global information space”. Of course, common data dictionaries already exist, but they are intended for a much more limited circle of users, and the number and nature of the lexical units included in them cannot satisfy the rapidly expanding world of collaborative software.

Our architectural approach (see <link - 6>, <link - 9> and <link - 10>) is to enter into each environment of the user interface a command line interface (IC), which generates operations available to the user (verbs) applied to accessible classes of objects (nouns) from a grammar file (which, if needed, can be individualized according to the size and nature of verbs and nouns from common vocabulary). X interprets user actions based on the content of currently attached grammar files and performs the appropriate actions using remote commands to call common applications of the “open system environment”.

Each knowledge worker will be included in an even richer online environment and interaction within an even more global “information environment”, which will include users from different organizations with different skills and using equipment and programs from different manufacturers, will become even closer.

Without such a global architectural opportunity, I don’t know how to maintain and control an evolving global “information environment dictionary” to successfully integrate large-scale collaboration software services.

Multivariate selection of the graphical interface- a program module with a graphical interface, which is based on the command line interface architecture described above, will be located between the ICS and the window system. Additional modules of the selected characteristics of the graphical interface have both practical and evolutionary significance.

A basic limitation is required. When working in interactive mode, regardless of the type of the graphical interface, the user has a specific mental model that determines the meaning of each menu item, icon, command, or “hot key combination”.

A necessary limitation here is that the action taken for the user using the interface module must be performed by the processes executed by the command line interface module as derived from the use of common vocabulary terms. Users should receive information about their tools and materials, as well as discuss their work with others, using the terms of a common dictionary regardless of the type of interface used.

Besides the fact that this approach facilitates the adaptation of people, it can lead to positive results. At the moment, the direction of development of popular custom graphical user interfaces is dictated by "ease of use." This has facilitated widespread adoption, but it is unlikely that people who are not able to set aside simple in use inventions of the past will be able to achieve truly high efficiency.

As important classes of users develop environment dictionaries and are more qualified to use them, they will certainly feel the benefits of these significant changes. The above approach will provide an opportunity for the emergence of this important aspect of the development of our high efficiency.

Teleconference with window demonstration- remote employees can use the service that allows some employees to “view” the dynamic display of the “demountable” window (s) of others. In combination with a phone call (or teleconference), the parties can work as if they are nearby: view or correct a document, advise each other, participate in meetings, etc. The program control (by default, carried out "on display") can be transferred to any participant . An overview of this service is given in <link - 6>.

The relationship between hyperdocuments and other data systems- for example, the CAD database may have links to annotations / notes related to the design object, which indicate the relevant specifications, requirements, discussions, etc., located in the hyperdocuments database. Then the feedback service will show the hyperdocument viewer which parts of the document from the CAD database are referenced.

Similarly, hyperlinks in hyperdocs can lead to objects inside the CAD databases, and when you view the CAD model objects later, the feedback service will inform the CAD employee which parts of the hyperdocument this object refers to.

8 PRIV processes supported by SOG

The above instrumental capabilities, along with the well-developed methods and other elements of the system of people we discussed in section 1.2, the infrastructure of an organization’s capabilities can support the following online PRIV scenarios.

Please note that such online interaction is possible even if users are located in different departments of the same organization, different organizations, use different application packages on different workstations (of course, provided that access to data is allowed). We will assume that SOG has done its job, when you can click on the link in a letter from someone from another organization, you can go directly to the referenced part and then quietly work with the "alien" field of knowledge, possibly switching to the content display mode of this part, looking at other links there, etc. without understanding unfamiliar processes.

Collection of information: Now the project team (whose activities can be classified as A, B or C) can more closely monitor the external environment, actively exploring, analyzing and interacting with it mostly online. Much of the external information, now available in hyperdocuments and multimedia form, is contained in the SOG journal system. When I send you an e-mail with a notification about the upcoming conference, I can give links to interesting for you, in my opinion, meetings, and you, following these links, can quickly go to them (thanks to hypertext links and object addressing). When I search for something in magazine directories or research a question for a project I work on, I can see who gave the link to the material and what was said about it. If the materials are not online (i.e. in XDoc), I can quickly find their location and how to access them, possibly via an e-mail request. If materials are online, I can instantly access them, starting with viewing the structure of the document (taking advantage of the SOG document structure and user display function) and, perhaps, using a simple filter to narrow the field and quickly focusing on the specific information I need. I can quickly create an annotated index to documents or objects inside these documents that I want to track. I can share with you a macro that I wrote to track incoming information and change its format, and you can enter it into your work environment by removing your keywords (using the architectural function of the general dictionary).

Dialog entries: Effective response to needs and opportunities includes a high degree of coordination and dialogue within and between project teams. In the SOG environment, most conversations will be conducted online through the Journal. Email will be used mostly for one-time messages, such as meeting reminders. All notes, reports, meeting minutes, design change requests, fieldwork support protocols, error reports, etc. will be logged for distribution. Asynchronous online conferences will be supported by the Journals, each entry will be tagged and cataloged for future simple access. The document flow will be a question of making a document in the Journal with the note “the latest version - please note the changes in section G, they are listed in file Y”, including links to this section and file for easy access. Viewers will follow links to the document. Then, the author will be able to return to the indexed comments and will have more options for quick display and their integration into the document. This dialogue support will eliminate the need for multiple simultaneous meetings.

If necessary, holding simultaneous meetings will be significantly improved with the help of SOG. The dialogue that is the reason for the meeting will already be in the Journal. The agenda of the meeting will be requested and distributed through the Journal. During the meeting, the agenda and current records can either be projected onto a large screen, or displayed on the monitor of each participant (using the screen demonstration function), and any participant can point to the displayed materials (using the mouse). Any participant can write, print or draw on this virtual chalk board. Any presentation and additional materials can be instantly extracted from the knowledge base for the presentation.

In addition, tools will soon become available for the flexible introduction and integration of digitized speech into the SOG knowledge base. Early tools will be able to recognize the speaker's speech, special words and even create basic text transcriptions. With their help, it will be possible to create links and move between modules the size of a word with a long speech line. This will significantly improve the design, integration and use of dialog entries. Then improved tools will appear and as the methods of effective use of technology develop, the number and completeness of the recorded dialogues will become more and more significant.

Knowledge Products: Throughout the project’s life cycle, the SOG online product will provide a complete and always accessible picture of the project. Intermediate project states, including information support and dialogs, can be combined into a document collection in the Journal for version control of documents. All knowledge products will be developed, integrated and applied within the SOG, with appropriate contributions from diverse and located in different places users. These users can also work as if they are sitting next to each other, reviewing the design, making markup of the document, approving recent changes, etc. (using screen demonstration function). The process of finding the documents you require among the vast amount of project documentation will be just to click on the link (from the catalog of the Journal or from your project) and concentrate on the details or to abstract from them (or someone can provide the link using the screen sharing function). Absolute accountability - the logs provided are guaranteed to be authentic and each object can be marked by the system with the date and time of the last edit, as well as the name of the user who made it. The signature on the documents can be verified.

To any part of the knowledge representation of all knowledge, you can click on the link. With the help of smart search tools, you can view some or even the entire collection of knowledge to display a list of relevant links, given as they are relevant.

Rules will be created for structuring, categorizing, naming and supplying links within their general area of ​​knowledge, thanks to which experienced users can navigate through knowledge, just like a resident, with proper practice, can effectively move around the city.

As the group adapts its ways of working to gain more value from such a system of tools as proposed here, the classes of knowledge objects will increase, as will the available functions with which they can be managed. This growth will occur in parallel with the simultaneous evolution of even more developed human "knowledge, vocabulary, methodology and skills."

There is great potential in this, and many tools, procedures, rules and organizational roles will need to be developed together with the tools. If SOG is open, then it is necessary to further explore various areas of its application, such as computer-based activity (CSCW), organizational learning, integrated quality management (TQM), enterprise integration (EI), software development and maintenance management, automated development system programs (CASE), computer-aided design (CAD), parallel design (CE), organizational memory, online document delivery, computerized logistics support, etc. As will be shown later, these tasks will require highly skilled operators.

9 Summary: Conceptual basis of the above

So, we have outlined the steps in the development of a strategy to create an effective method that allows an organization to be taken to a new level of efficiency.

We considered the concept of the productive structure of the organization on which the effectiveness of any enterprise should depend.

In addition, to create this productive infrastructure, an Enhancement System is needed, which will provide people with mental, motor and perceptual abilities that are many times superior to their own, given by nature. It is convenient to divide the amplification system into two subsystems: the system of people and the system of tools. The “harmonious co-volvism” of the elements of our amplification system is the process by which the system has reached its present state of development.

New technologies contribute to the incredible scale of improving the system tools. This means that the subsequent co-evolution of the amplification system will cause radical qualitative changes in the form and functional effectiveness of our productive structures, and consequently of our organizations.

When trying to achieve the potential benefits of such changes, leading to the creation of truly high-performance organizations, it is expected that there will be a need to solve very large-scale and complex tasks. To create an effective approach, a strategy is needed.

In order that the subsequent improvements could be carried out more effectively, it is advantageous to immediately concentrate on improving the process of improving the organization.

To help with this analysis, an alphabetical list of improvement processes was created. A thesis was developed, stating that the set of opportunities for working with PRIV-parallel development, integration and knowledge introduction is important for the activities of all three types of activities. Thus, if the early stages focus on improving the PRVZ, the results of this can improve the first and second derivatives of the return on future investment improvements.

The Open Hyperdocument System (CSN) will be a key development of a “system of tools” to improve the general and widespread capabilities of PRIV within and between organizations. And creating a truly effective SOG will in itself be an extremely complex and global problem for our collaboration software market.

So, highly effective organizations: great opportunities, interesting ideas, complex tasks. A little more about strategy.

10 Community C: Highly productive systemic self-regulation capability

Returning to the main ABC model shown in Fig. - 4, some useful comments can be made regarding the next step in strategy development. This model is useful even if the system self-regulation approach is not applied; its value lies in the fact that it explains in detail how to distribute responsibilities, functions and budget between the two levels of improvement activities (B and C).

If the C-roles are clearly marked, then the main issues will soon arise, in the process of solving which the leaders of the C-activities realize the value of being able to compare the experience and approaches of their colleagues from other organizations. For example, what principles and objectives of budgeting are the most rational for these improvements? How much will this contribute to activities? To document how tasks are performed at the moment? What role should demo applications play? What size should be the gain of improvement and for which group in size, so that you can try to make a demo application? How many “tools” of the pilot group — before, during, and after development — do you need to measure the usefulness of the effort? All this will contribute to greater efficiency of B. activity.

So, let's look at the formation and expansion of the above-described type of interaction during various improvement activities, especially C. In the mid-sixties, I began to think about the nature and value of communities based on common interests formed by various improvement activities. This almost immediately led me to the active development of a systemic self-regulation strategy for the formation of improvement communities.

In <reference - 11> (1972), I introduced the idea of ​​a “common knowledge space” - there we also described the tools we developed to maintain this space (including many of the features of the hyperdocuments system described above) and described three basic sub-areas of PRIV: recording dialogs collection of information and “directory” (or knowledge products).

Later, the ABC model emerged, which led to paying special attention to the important launch phase for the formation of one or more special self-regulating Community C as shown in Fig-12.


The significance of such a common activity can be very high and we will touch on this issue later. Firstly, there are other issues that naturally arise, which also requires a solution. The first general remarks usually look like this: “How can we share information with our competitors, if it contains a lot of what is intended only for internal use!” Or “If the field of activity of another company is completely different from ours, then what can we to be useful information for them? ”

About issues of ownership: The a-activity of each organization can be very competitive and contain a lot of proprietary content. In-activity can be described as more general. The C-activity will mainly consist of common tasks and practically does not affect the information for internal use. Therefore, even competitors will be able to collaborate "behind the scenes", while "struggling to compete on the stage." This trend can be replaced in companies implementing comprehensive quality management and included in the list of organizations Malcolm Baldridge Award.

Another business area: Again, their B-activities will only slightly differ from each other, and C-activities in general are surprisingly almost identical in all major issues.

Now consider how the C-community could carry out its activities if it had the basic hyperdocuments tools described above. For several decades, such a system was available to us with colleagues, so all our plans were carried out with the help of this system, which we called “SOG, Model-1” - or “SOG-1”.

How would an ideal self-regulating C-community work? In the early stages, all attention would be paid to improving their own PRIV capabilities. SOG-1 is used for this; at the initial stage, an important step is the approval of requirements, technical specifications and a procurement plan for obtaining several rapidly developing prototypes of hyperdocument systems (i.e. SOG-2, -3, etc.), which will lead to providing even better support for serious pilot applications of participants C-community.

The main products of community knowledge can be viewed as dynamic electronic reference books on the topic “how best to perform improvement tasks” with two client groups: B-activity clients and the C-community itself. The pooling of resources for organizations within the community allows for the creation of a more advanced and rapidly developing prototype PRIVZ environment that serves two important purposes:

  1. This will allow the community to better and better carry out the main “C-activity”;
  2. Constantly changing employees of organizations belonging to the community will gain access to best practices. Thus, they will develop an understanding of the real problems on which the improvement of the capabilities of the PRVZ depends - this understanding is absorbed by “being in a real, filled with work of the area of ​​the PRIV”.

Please note that providing equivalent experience through conducting your own tests will be much more expensive for each company. In addition, the cost of the amount of basic knowledge products obtained in this way for private development will be many times greater.

An important feature: as soon as the community becomes accustomed to effective tools and methods. By working together and developing operational skills, members of relevant organizations within the community will be able to do their work in the offices of their organizations. This contributes to maintaining relationships between organizations, which is very important in C and B activities.

Such work in their organizations also facilitates all the crucial “technology transfer” from the C-community to customers for use in B-activities. When considering the issue of technology transfer, note that the strength of the improved PRVZ process is the two-way transfer of knowledge. Maintaining a dialogue with B-clients by sharing the hyperdocument system will not only directly facilitate two-way transfer of knowledge, but will also provide important experience for B-people in the process of observing how improved PRIVZ processes work.

To understand the value of facilitating two-way communication, consider Figure-13, which emphasizes the importance that improved PRIV processes have in organizational improvement activities. Points “1, 2, 3” are basic for the process of PRIV. As PRVZ capabilities move from C and B to A, nothing will stop the overall improvement process from making improvements. Also note that when the A-activities of this organization and its clients are based on the interoperable PRIV processes, the dynamics of the entire business is revived.


Now consider Figure-14 and note that the types of knowledge shown are fundamental to the processes of PRIVZ and that improving these processes will directly improve one of several key features of the C-community. Conversely, in Fig. 15, the previous base point of the natural improvement in output by improved PRVZ is highlighted and the value of system self-regulation, which is achievable by concentrating on these PRIV processes, is once again emphasized.



In the area of ​​organizational improvement, there are several striking major problems, for which one organization needs to think about joining a multi-party union. From the point of view of system self-regulation, the most pressing problem is the creation of collaborative software systems conducive to conducting improved trial tests. Other large-scale problems are associated with "the exploration of the territory and the establishment of settlements."

In addition to the various transformation possibilities of our organizations, there is a large, unexplored multidimensional border area. Its dimensions and external borders are expanding faster and faster. To really learn something about this border and decide where we would like to “locate our organizations”, we need a huge amount of research work. We also need to create a significant number of settlements in promising places in order to determine in advance the conditions of life and work there. (“Settlement” read as “improved pilot groups.”)

For the time being we are doing very few reconnaissance expeditions and are developing few significant settlements.

Now I understand that such expeditions and test settlements are necessary. My motivation for C-community propaganda, system self-regulation, the development of PRIV and SOG is based on the need to find a strategy for exploring this territory and its development. This is similar to a military strategy: “First, we will firmly settle in the territory of the PRIV; then we will make it our base and surround the territories with SOG and S; when we take them under our control, we will occupy the most advantageous position for passage through the remaining parts of the territories of improvement B and C, and thus the whole area will be under our control ... "

As the C-community and its working relationship with" Clients B, an even larger area of ​​interaction with the whole set of issues of organizational improvement can be integrated into their joint efforts.

Potential buyers of improved PRVZ capabilities in modern global society are practically everywhere: for example, all the “great challenges” of the United States for special support. For the most part, each professional community will eventually work in a similar way, along with legislative bodies, government agencies, and university research programs.

In short, the solution of all the problems important for our society will be greatly facilitated by the highly efficient capabilities of PRIV. Not a bad task for the collaboration software community, is it not true?

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize once again what is written in section 1.4. about paradigms. I am convinced that improving the appropriate paradigm of movement towards the future will be the only significant success factor when trying to create high-performance organizations.


  • Ref-1. Engelbart, DC 1962. Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, Report, Stanford Research Institute, on Contract AF 49 (63-8) -1024, October, 134 pp.
  • Ref-2. Engelbart, DC 1963. "A Conceptual Framework for the Augmentation of Man's Intellect." Vistas in Information Handling, Howerton and Weeks (eds), Washington, DC: Spartan Books, pp. 1-29. Republished in Greif, I. (ed.) 1988. Computer Book of Readings, San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc., pp. 35-65.
  • Ref-3. Engelbart, DC 1988. "The Augmented Knowledge Workshop." Goldberg, A. [ed], 1988. A History of Personal Workstations, New York: ACM Press, pp. 185-236. (AUGMENT, 101931,)
  • Ref-4. Engelbart, DC and Lehtman, HG 1988. Working Together, BYTE Magazine, December, pp. 245-252.
  • Ref-5. Engelbart, DC 1990. "Knowledge Domain Interoperability and an Open Hyperdocument System." Computer Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Los Angeles, CA, October 7-10, pp. 143-156. (AUGMENT, 132082,). Republished in Berk, E. and Devlin, J. [eds] 1991. Hypertext / Hypermedia Handbook, New York: Intertext Publications, McGraw-Hill, pp. 397-413.
  • Ref-6. Engelbart, DC 1982. “Toward High Performance Knowledge Workers.” OAC'82 Digest: Proceedings of the AFIPS Office Automation Conference, San Francisco, CA, April 5-7, pp. 279-290. (AUGMENT, 81010,). Republished in Greif, I. (ed.) 1988. Computer Book of Readings, San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc., pp. 67-78.
  • Ref-7. Engelbart, DC 1984. Collaboration Support Provisions in AUGMENT. OAC '84 Digest, Proceedings of the 1984 AFIPS Office Automation Conference, Los Angeles, CA, February 20-22, pp. 51-58. (OAD, 2221,).
  • Ref-8. Engelbart, DC 1984. "Authorship Provisions in AUGMENT". COMPCON '84 Digest, Proceedings of the COMPCON Conference, San Francisco, CA, February 27 - March 1, pp. 465-472. (OAD, 2250,). Republished in Greif, I. (ed.) 1988. Computer Book of Readings, San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc., pp. 107-126.
  • Ref-9. Irby, CH 1976. “The Command Meta Language System”. AFIPS Conference Proceedings, NCC Vol. 45, Montvale, NJ: AFIPS Press. (AUGMENT, 27266,)
  • Ref-10. Watson, RW 1976. User Interface Design Issues for a Large Interactive System. AFIPS Conference Proceedings, Vol. 45, Montvale, NJ: AFIPS Press, pp. 357-364. (AUGMENT, 27171,).
  • Ref-11. Engelbart, DC 1972. "Coordinated Information Services for a Discipline- or Mission-Oriented Community." San Jose, CA, January 24, 2008. Republished in Grimsdale, RL and Kuo, FF (eds) 1975. Computer Communication Networks, Leyden: Noordhoff. (AUGMENT, 12445,).
  • Ref-12. Grenier, R., Metes, G. 1992. Enterprise Networking: Working Together Apart. Digital Press. (Very relevant general treatment; special emphasis given to "Capability-Based Environment" along the lines outlined in this paper.)
  • Ref-13. Parunak, HVD 1991. “Toward Industrial Strength Hypermedia”, Hypertext / Hypermedia Handbook, Kerk, E. and Devlin, J. (eds), New York: McGraw Hill, pp. 381-395. (Provides Hyperdocument System as discussed in this paper.)

[Note: The Institute for System Self-Regulation has developed basic plans for launching C-communities of various sizes — the middle consortium and the more traditional natural evolutionary approach. Contact us if you are interested.]

Translation: Anna Ryvkina.

Danila Medvedev: Translation was done for our project.
The NeuroCode project is a modern embodiment of the ideals and ideas of Engelbart. We are working to make the process of continuous improvement, co-evolution and bootstrapping a reality. To do this, we created the NeuroCode system , which implements the Open Hyperdocument System vision and many other ideas. We want to see people for whom the realization of Engelbart’s vision is a serious personal goal. Let's get acquainted, maybe we can go forward together.
How to join the NeuroCode project ?
We offer students and graduate students options for cooperation:

1. Summer internship:
1.1. We are looking for C ++ programmers, preferably with Qt knowledge and keen interest in the subject matter of the application.

2. Work combined with research:
2.1. For the programmer (computer science)
2.2. For the UX-designer (design)
2.3. For the cognitive (psychology, cognitive science)

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