Ambitions and ambivalences in participatory design: Lessons from a smart workplace project
We reflect on how practices of care configure workplace participatory design (PD) efforts by locating ways in which care manifests in the ambitions of actors as they confront their ambivalent relations to a smart workplace technology. We explore these issues through a participatory design effort centered around the development and implementation of a machine learning (ML) system to support the work of IT architects employed by a large global company. Following an Agile approach, these IT architects actively shaped the project's trajectories, offering feedback on various system prototypes as well as the alignment between the project's various aims and their everyday work practices. Our findings center around six standpoints (strategizing, managing, building, researching, integrating, and transforming) that organize "matters of care" emerging from our twenty-three-month-long engagement with this project. Workers inhabited different standpoints at different times (and some, at times, simultaneously), revealing a dynamic and shifting orientation toward caring. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding contemporary workplace PD efforts.