Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Should we do, or not-do?  Russell Ackoff, over many years, wrote about (negative) potential consequences:

There are two possible types of decision-making mistakes, which are not equally easy to identify.

  • (1) Errors of commission: doing something that should not have been done.
  • (2) Errors of omission: not doing something that should have been done.

For example, acquiring a company that reduces a corporation’s overall performance is an error of commission, as is coming out with a product that fails to break even. Failure to acquire a company that could have been acquired and that would have increased the value of the corporation or failure to introduce a product that would have been very profitable is an error of omission  [Ackoff 1994, pp. 3-4].

Ackoff has always been great with turns of phrases such as these.  Some deeper reading evokes three ideas that may be worth further exploration:

  • 1. Doing or not-doing may or may not invoke learning.
  • 2. Doing or not-doing invokes implicit orientations on time.
  • 3. Doing or not-doing raises question of (i) changes via systems of willful action, and/or (ii) changes via systems of non-intrusive action.

These three ideas, explored in sections below, lead us from the management of human affairs, beyond questions of science, and into question of philosophy.

For those interested in the history of philosophy and science, the three ideas above are followed by an extra section:

  • Appendix. Doing or not-doing in management can be placed philosophically in American pragmatism.

The question of doing or not-doing has been deep in the intellectual traditions of American management thinking in the latter 20th century.  The attitude of Bias for Action espoused by Tom Peters first published in 1982 exhorts managers to do.  Peters describes the shifts of 1962 “Bias of planning”, to 1982 “Bias for action” in a report card from 2001, and observes in a 2018 interview that it’s become the first of eight commandments in Silicon Valley.

1. Doing or not-doing may or may not invoke learning

One way of framing doing and not-doing is around decision-making mistakes.  In 1994, Ackoff was advocating strongly for organizational learning.  He criticized executives who suppress the surfacing of prior errors that might preclude the recurrence of mistakes.

February 28th, 2019

Posted In: philosophy, systems

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Research can take some time to wend through reflection, reviews and revisions.  An article coauthored with Susu Nousala and Peter Jones took about 2 years to formal publication.

While a working paper can be more open-ended, a scientific publication seeks greater closure.  From the conclusion, here’s a paragraph that wasn’t in our original 2016-2017 writing.

The RSD5 DesignX workshop provided for continuity and discourse building between members of various design programmes, practices and allegiances. It was a not intended as a venue for specifically articulating and defining the design research agendas linking DesignX with systemic design studies or with these agendas. Further development of these enquiries through other workshops and discourses will extend the continuity of the discussion and evolve something of a common language, if not a corpus, to better fulfil the potential of design research agendas in systemic design.

February 4th, 2019

Posted In: design, education, universities

Tags:

Leave a Comment

Since my cPanel shared hosting provider supports node.js hosting, installing a federated wiki site beside the usual Softaculous packages is an option. The app requires node.js, and there is a variety of ways to deploy that.

In 2014, I had installed a federated wiki site on Openshift, but then didn’t maintain it as other priorities surfaced.  The site is now available at http://wiki.coevolving.com, and the prior content has been restored.

The installation isn’t a one-button procedure.  However, an administator comfortable with opening an SSH terminal onto your shared hosting account should be able to follow the steps below.  (If you have problems, the federated wiki community hangs out in a room on matrix.org).

A. Creating a Subdomain

(1) Through your browser, from cPanel … Domains … , create a Subdomain.

  • As an example, I can create a Subdomain wiki in the Domain coevolving.com, that will actually be stored in my Home (Document Root) as a wiki.coevolving.com directory.

Subdomain_CreateASubdomain

B. Installing Federated Wiki

(2) From cPanel … Software … Setup Node.js App.

  • In the Web Applications list, Create Application.  As an example, set:
      • Node.js version: 10.11.0
      • Application mode: Production
      • Application root: wiki.coevolving.com

January 1st, 2019

Posted In: technologies, web tools

Tags: ,

One Comment

Psychologist Amos Tversky, with Daniel Kahneman, collaborated not on artificial intelligence, but on the study of natural stupidity.  Their research into cognitive biases eventually became recognized in an emerging field of behavioral economics.  In hindsight, I can claim to have received an “A” in a Ph.D. course taught by the winner of a Nobel Prize in economics.

In my first cycle of doctoral studies, I was guided at UBC by my supervisor Ken MacCrimmon into a PSYC546 “Seminar in Psychology Problems”, which was led by Danny Kahneman.  This course was offered shortly after the 1982 publication of the book Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases, edited by Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky.  With Kahneman at UBC in Vancouver, and Tversky at Stanford University in the San Francisco Bay Area, the back-and-forth flights to visit each other was frequent.  I uncovered more about the relationship between the two psychology professors in reading The Undoing Project. That book describes a difficult history of university faculty offers, not only around the two collaborators, but also the accommodation of wives Barbara Gans Tversky and Anne Treisman.

December 17th, 2018

Posted In: economics, psychology, technologies

Tags: , , , , , ,

One Comment

Concerns in the larger research body of research on platforms often leads to a subset looking into the impacts of the platform economy.  Let’s try some more digests responding to questions.

  • A. Is a shift to platforms considered as disruptive innovation?
  • B. Do network effects lead to a platform economy of “winner take all”?
  • C. With digital platforms based in information systems, what are the opportunities for knowledge effects?
  • D. What is the logic of participation on a platform?
  • E. Should platform capitalism be seen as positive or negative?
  • F. As an alternative to platform capitalism, should platform cooperativism be considered?
  • G. In the larger context of the sharing economy, how might platform initiatives be categorized?

The rise of the platform economy may be described either by the metaphor of “We Don’t Know Who Discovered Water, But We Know It Wasn’t a Fish” or the fable of the “Boiling Frog“.

November 12th, 2018

Posted In: design, economics, governance, systems, technologies

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Comment

The term “platform” is now popular in a variety of contexts.  What do “platforms” mean, and what research might guide our appreciation?

Let’s outline some questions:

  • A. What came before the rise of platforms?
  • B. What types of platforms are there?
  • C. Why take a platform approach?
  • D. How do platforms manifest?
  • E. Why might a platform not be viable?
  • F. How are digital and non-digital platforms different?
  • G. What don’t researchers know about digital platforms?
  • H. What are the economic consequences of the platform economy?

The articles cited below are not exhaustive, but they may give a sense of the ballpark.

A. What came before the rise of platforms?

The industrial age was typified by descriptions of “supply chains” and “value chains”, which otherwise may be called “pipelines”. Marshall Van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker, and Sangeet Paul Choudary write:

… platforms differ from the conventional “pipeline” businesses that have dominated industry for decades. Pipeline businesses create value by controlling a linear series of activities — the classic value-chain model. Inputs at one end of the chain (say, materials from suppliers) undergo a series of steps that transform them into an output that’s worth more: the finished product. [….]

November 7th, 2018

Posted In: design, economics, governance, systems, technologies

Tags: , ,

One Comment