South Africa is undergoing a number of changes, which has an effect on every aspect of society from the workplace to everyday life. South Africans need to reflect on this situation and determine how to proceed. The purpose of this article is to consider the development and implementation of information technology, one particular problem area, in this broader context. The article draws an analogy between the trade unionist systems development tradition in Scandinavia and the possible application it might have in South Africa. The article describes the situation in South Africa, presents the trade unionist approach to systems development, and describes the underlying principles that have been identified by Scandinavian researchers. It then evaluates these principles from a South African perspective and discusses the possible uses they might have in the South African situation.