Coevolving Innovations

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Archive for the ‘services’

Intellectual virtues; architectural programming; agile delivery and action research 0

Posted on November 09, 2015 by daviding

For a class on Service Science at the U. of Toronto iSchool Master of Information program,  Kelly Lyons granted me the luxury of 2 hours of time.  In a relatively small classroom, she asked me to enable more interaction with the students.  With an orientation more towards theory in service science, I decided to use the slides for “Service Systems Thinking: An Introduction” that I had presented earlier in the month in Finland, but to start in a different place.  Thus, the lecture began in part 6, with three topics:

  • 6.1 Intellectual virtues
  • 6.2 Architectural programming
  • 6.3 Agile delivery, action research

This discussion opened with science as episteme, techne and phronesis.  The context of architectural programming as problem seeking opened up a conversation about what researchers and practitioners are doing with service science.  Towards concreteness in methods, the transition from structured methods to agile development was compared with action research.

Here are audio recordings of the lecture, in two parts.  (Video is so much more work!)

Part 1 Audio [20151026_1830_UToronto_Ing_IntroServiceSystemsThinking_1.MP3]
(67MB, 1h09m57s)
Part 2 Audio [20151026_1950_UToronto_Ing_IntroServiceSystemsThinking_2.MP3]
(43MB, 44m47s)

After the philosophical introduction, circling back to the beginning of the slide deck placed more emphasis on understanding the perspective of bringing systems thinking into service science.  We then rolled through content that has been (or will be covered) in the course, from a different orientation.

In the audio, there’s some banter back and forth with Kelly Lyons, who has been active in service science since its beginning.  While she paces students through content over a semester, I unfortunately only lecture occasionally at universities, so I cover a lot of ground.  Making digital recordings available is a favour for listeners who prefer to use a pause button to think and reflect.

An Introduction to Service Systems Thinking 0

Posted on October 21, 2015 by daviding

A lecture for the Master’s Program in Industrial Management at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences was an opportunity to talk about the research that has been brewing over the past 18+ months, from the basics.  These students were unlikely to have heard much about (i) systems thinking; (ii) service systems, (iii) generative pattern language, or (iv) federated wiki.

Coming to Metropolia in 2015 was like a return home.  In 2006, the institution was named Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia, and I collaborated on starting up the curriculum as part of the Rendez project.  In recent years, I haven’t been so involved.  As I was planning a trip to Europe this fall, I discovered that Satu Teerikangas had returned from teaching at UCL in the UK to Finland, becoming the Head of the Industrial Management Program.  My itinerary coincided well with the course dates, so I pulled together a presentation from the evolving ideas over the last year.  The audience would be a combination of students from the Industrial Management program and the Logistics program.

The session was conducted in two parts, each slightly under 60 minutes.  The first part covered:

  • 1. What could Service Systems Thinking be?
  • 2. Systems Thinking
  • 3. SSMED (Service Science, Management, Engineering and Design)

Part 1 Audio [20151002_1300_Metropolia_Ing_ServiceSystemsThinking.mp3]
(55MB, 57m02s)
Part 1 Video (58m06s) nHD
H.264 MP4 [640×360
724Kbps m4v] (316MB)
1938Kbps m4v] (845MB)
5445Kbps mp4] (2.4GB)
WebM [1280×720
1006Kbps webm] (439MB)

In the second part after the break, the agenda covered:

  • 4. Generative Pattern Language
  • 5. Multiple Perspectives Open Collaboration (federated wiki)
  • 6. Context that are coevolving?

Unfolding values in places, spaces and paces: Service systems thinking and architectural theory 0

Posted on July 01, 2015 by daviding

Prior talks on Service Systems Thinking have focused on basics.  For this year’s Symposium on Service Systems Science at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, I decided to step up the emphasis in a short presentation on some selected ideas:

  • An unfolding is a process which gets you from one stage or moment of development to the next moment of development, in the evolution of a neighborhood or in the evolution of a building;  and
  • Value is dynamic, with access consciousness ex-ante and ex-post, and phenomenological consciousness in lived experience

From the 8 practices employed by Christopher Alexander on the 1985 Eishin project, I focused on one:

  • Find systems of centers in (i) the notions in people’s minds, and (ii) the places in the land. Combine them.

These ideas are at the core of how systems thinking is intertwined with service science, and pattern languages.  Jim Kijima and Hiroshi Deguchi arranged for a videographer this year, so there’s a record of the presentation.

Audio [20150228_1430_Titech_Ing_UnfoldingValuePlacesSpacesPaces_128kbps.mp3]
(45MB, 46m51s)
Video (47m01s) nHD
H.264 MP4 [640×360
454Kbps m4v
] (160MB)
1754Kbps m4v
] (679MB)
WebM [640×360
247Kbps webm
] (87MB)


The video is available on Youtube, or downloadable as audio or video.

From Environmental Structure to Service Systems Thinking 1

Posted on June 29, 2015 by daviding

Christopher Alexander’s work described the architecting of built physical environments.  The 1977 book A Pattern Language bears the subtitle “Towns, Buildings, Construction”.  This approach was developed in the context of architectural programming and problem seeking originating the late 1960s.  It was complemented by methods described in The Oregon Experiment, and theory in The Timeless Way of Building.  Appreciating the philosophy embraced in the practice of building environment structure leads to a lot of reading.  The challenge has been made harder by Alexander continually evolving his vocabulary and definitions throughout his career to 2012, with his last publication of The Battle for Life and Beauty of the Earth.

Service Systems Science inquires into a world that is not necessarily physical.  Is it possible to remain relatively true to the pattern language approach developed by Christopher Alexander, and extend that into a new domain labelled Service Systems Thinking?

The 21st Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs — known as PLoP, organized by the Hillside Group at Allerton Park, Illinois for September 2014 — was an opportunity to test out the idea of Service Systems Thinking amongst practitioners who have grappled with applying pattern languages to software development for over 20 years.  My contribution of writing to the Narrow Road to the Deep North (奥の細道) writer’s workshop led by Richard P. Gabriel and Jenny Quillien turned out to stretch the normal process of critical review.  The accepted paper was incomplete, overwhelming in length (since workshops usually review submissions of just a few pages), cross-disciplinary in nature, and written at level beyond an undergraduate audience.  Since preceding presentations at other conferences had been workshop presentations of 3 to 5 hours in length, a written work turned out to be an ambitious effort for both the audience and the author.

PLoP conferences produce proceedings, where authors take the comments from the reviewers to revise the writings.  The timeline for completion was by January 2015.  In months between the Allerton meeting and the deadline, I managed to complete a coherent manuscript which was scheduled to be formally published by the ACM.  Self-publishing on the Internet is now easy, so it’s easy to distribute the author’s version of the work.

So, the manuscript for “From Environmental Structure to Service Systems Thinking: Wholeness with Centers Described with a Generative Pattern Language” has been available for some months.  At 32 pages (including a long list of references), this work comes with an apology.  If you would prefer the precision of reading, this article should be seen as a beginning, not an end.  If you’re not a fan of reading, perhaps watching some of videos might be less painful.

Incubating Service Systems Thinking 2

Posted on August 26, 2014 by daviding

Evolving the Proposal to Collaborate on a Pattern Language for Service Systems from January, the initiative has now taken on a label of Service Systems Thinking.  The presentation at the 58th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences in Washington DC was recorded, so that interested parties have the option of watching or listening ideas that have developed over the past six months, and reading the slides at their leisure.  Here’s the abstract:

“Service systems thinking” is proffered as a label for an emerging body of work that: (i) builds on social systems thinking (i.e. socio-psychological, socio-technical and socio-ecological systems perspectives) to advance a transdisciplinary appreciation of service systems science, management, engineering and design; (ii) explores opportunities to enrich Alexanderian patterns and categorized pattern catalogs into a generative pattern language; and (iii) collaborates on new platforms, moving from inductive-consensual wiki pages to a multiple-perspectives (federated) wiki.

The session was conducted in two parts, each of about 90 minutes.  The first part had a soft start playing some videos on the Smallest Federated Wiki by Ward Cunningham, since participants were coming back from lunch in another building.  The presentation alternated between projected slides, and live content on the federated wiki at  The agenda covered:

  • 1. Service Systems Thinking, In Brief
    • 1.1 An intentional representation
    • 1.2 An object-process representation
  • 2. Conversations for Orientation
    • 2.1 Systems thinking
    • 2.2 SSMED (Service Science, Management, Engineering and Design
    • 2.3 Generative Pattern Language
    • 2.4 Multiple Perspectives Open Collaboration

Part 1 Audio [20140730_1453_ISSS_Ing_ServiceSystemsThinking_128Kbps.mp3]
(85MB, 1h32m25s)
Part 1 Video (1h32m26s) nHD qHD
H.264 MP4 [640×360
238Kbps m4v
] (243MB)
716Kbps m4v
] (846MB)
2028Kbps m4v
] (1.4GB)
3341Kbps m4v
] (2.4GB)
WebM [640×360
135Kbps webm
] (176MB)
289Kbps webm
] (282MB)
0688Kbps webm
] (557MB)

In the second part after the break, the agenda covered:

  • 3. Conversations for Possibilties
    • 3.1 [Multiple Perspectives Open Collaboration]: We could have federated authored content on open source platforms
    • 3.2 [Generative Pattern Language]: We could be reoriented for unfolding wholeness, layering systems of centers and/with creating interactive value
    • 3.3 [SSMED]: We could have trans-disciplinary cooperation on service systems improvement
    • 3.4 [Systems thinking]: We could have service systems evolving from the systems thinking tradition

A Proposal for Collaboration on a Pattern Language for Service Systems 1

Posted on February 15, 2014 by daviding

A meeting of systems scientists and systems engineers together as the Systems Science Working Group at the INCOSE International Workshop 2014 provided a forum for “a proposal for collaboration on a pattern language for service systems (science, management, engineering and design)”.  The title is deliberately long, and required some hours to unpack the content in the slide deck.

A Proposal for Collaboration on a Pattern Language for Service Systems (Science, Management, Engineering and Design)

The initiative has been presented as ambitious.  Writing a (good) pattern language is non-trivial.  The originator of the pattern language, Christopher Alexander, published his first work in 1968, and then spent 9 years in collaboration until the 1977 release of the landmark A Pattern Language: Towns, Building, Construction.  In a 2010 interview, Alexander was asked about his perception on similar efforts.

[Rob Hoskins]: What’s been your opinion of subsequent peoples’ attempts at doing Pattern Languages – I’ve seen a couple of different ones, have you seen many?

[Christopher Alexander]:  Some. They’re not that good. The reason I say that is that the people who’ve attempted to work with Pattern Languages, think about them, but are not conscious of the role of morphological elegance in the unfolding. In a biological case, they always are elegant and the unfolding morphology is a sort of magic. But it’s very simple.  It’s not as if it’s magic because it’s complicated, it’s just … like that.

[Rob Hoskins]:  I guess when we were talking before about how a Pattern Language goes from the large down to the small, maybe when we were talking about it as going outwards maybe it is more like an unfolding process?

[Christopher Alexander]:   I think it is yes. The business of going from the large to the small was more for convenience….you could make sense of the book most easily like that but it isn’t necessarily the way to actually do it.

While contributors to this project can learn from prior art in pattern languages, there’s some basic contexts to be understood and appreciated.

A. Service systems (science, management, engineering and design)

Service systems are described in the context of the 2008 report on “Succeeding through service innovation” by the Cambridge IfM and IBM.  The science, management, engineering and design perspectives are from the 2009 Spohrer and Kwan article on”Service Science, Management, Engineering, and Design (SSMED): An Emerging Discipline — Outline & References”, with ten basic concepts underlying a service systems worldview.

B. Pattern language (c.f. pattern catalog)

The working of a pattern language is described with extract of the 1977 book A Pattern Language, with 127 INITIMACY GRADIENT.  The history of the Hillside Group, with a software (design) pattern (definition) illustrates application in a domain other than the built environment.  The variety of forms of writing patterns has been described by Martin Fowler.  Ties between pattern language and systems thinking are drawn by James O. Coplien and Neil Harrison 2004 and by Werner Ulrich 2006.  Christopher Alexander’s “Quality without a Name” is described in Richard P. Gabriel 1996.  Addition domains with ongoing work with pattern languages are evident in Scrum, in group facilitation processes, and in communications in the public sphere.

C. A starter set?  7 conditions from service systems science

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