Online presentation and discussion 23 Oct 2023.

Prof Roelien Goede, past-President of ISSS

 "Is digital transformation empowering or suffocating us? A critical systems heuristics perspective"  Digital transformation is changing the way we

do our everyday work. A question worth exploring is what is the impact of this change?

Are we more productive, less irritated, and more content in the workplace? Or are we suffocating from yet another new tool? Frustrated from struggling to do what we did seamlessly yesterday?

From a critical systems perspective, one should reflect on the purpose, the process, and the intended and unintended consequences of digital transformation in the organisation. A holistic approach is required to understand both the social and technological driving forces and the impact of this latest wave of change confronting our everyday work life.

Critical systems thinking guides us to consider different perspectives in the problem situation. It guides us to consider the consequences of our plans on those affected, but not involved, in the decision-making process; to identify those factors which we cannot control but which have a dramatic impact on the success of our endeavours; to identify which expertise is required, both technological and social to achieve the benefit of a proposed transformation. Moreover, it guides us in putting ourselves in the shoes of others, and then not only in the shoes of the workforce but also in the shoes of organisational management.

This address will consider digital transformation in the organisation from different perspectives. As an early adopter, I’m always optimistic about improved technology.  I will attempt to provide a balanced view from multiple perspectives on the drive for digital transformation. I aim to provide the reality check required by a workforce under ever-increasing pressure to change and provide guidance to organisational leaders from my own project work on digital transformation.


Roelien Goede is a professor in Computer Science and Information Systems at the North-West University, Potchefstroom in South Africa. She is the Director for the Research Unit of Data Science and Computing at the NWU.  She has a PhD from the University of Pretoria in the field of Systems Practice in Business Intelligence.

Roelien has various publications in the application of Critical Systems Thinking. She has been actively involved in the ISSS from 2014, and a member of the BoD from 2016. Besides being the immediate-past ISSS President, she is the Special Integration Group chair for Action Research.