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.
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?
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.
“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.
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.
[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)
The style of reports in the original IBM Consulting Group style is explained well by @buckwem, with presentation slides in landscape format following Minto’s pyramid principle structured with horizontal logic and vertical logic. I never met Mark Buckwell during my IBM career, but he’s been there since 1993, so we “went to the same school”. If I’m not using this style in a presentations, it’s for a conscious reason, as this way of writing and presenting is always in the back of my mind.
The Pyramid Principle from Barbara Minto was first written over forty years ago and defines a logical way of writing reports and presentations. The technique first came from McKinsey and Company but it is now used by many management consulting companies including IBM Global Business Services.
Small university campus just one street by two blocks up hill from small town. Attending pattern language conference, PURPLSOC is third within a year. Would have meet practically all Christopher Alexander scholars by now, may focus down in future events with some interested in collaborating. Shortest lead time ever, 8 hours on plane, 3 hours on train, 1 hour to find campus, barely time for lunch, check-in and shower before first speaker started at 2:30 pm. (Danube University Krems, Austria) 20150703
Just realised that I’m breaking my personal rule to fly across oceans on a carrier with a Canadian flag. Direct flight for short trip trumped brand preference. Fortunately, the Austrians aren’t known as an aggressive culture. I expect to nap, and wake up in Vienna. (OS 72, still boarding at Pearson International Airport YYZ) 20150702
Hoop dancing @Luminato: Nimkii Osawamick performing with @cris_derksen on the Festival Garden Stage. Wrapped up in multiple hoops with looped cello and drummer on National Aboriginal Day. (David Pecaut Square, Luminato Festival, Toronto) 20150621