Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

At U.C. Berkeley in the 1960s, Christopher Alexander, Horst Rittel and C. West Churchman could have had lunch together.  While disciplinary thinking might lead novices to focus only on each of pattern language, wicked problems and the systems approach, there are ties (as well as domain-specific distinctions) between the schools.

Circa 1968-1970: Christopher Alexander, Horst Rittel, West Churchman

Circa 1968-1970: Christopher Alexander, Horst Rittel, West Churchman

West Churchman joined Berkeley in 1957, and initiated master’s and doctoral programs in operations research at the School of Business Administration.   From 1964 to 1970, Churchman was associate director and research philosopher at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, directing its social sciences program.  After his retirement in 1981, Churchman taught in the Peace and Conflict Studies program for 13 years.

Horst Rittel came to the Berkeley College of Environmental Design in 1963, the same year that dean William Wurster recruited Christopher Alexander.  In 1973, Rittel split his time between Berkeley and the architecture faculty at the University of Stuttgart, where he founded the Institut für Grundlagen der Planung.

Christopher Alexander became a cofounder of the Center for Environmental Structure at Berkeley in 1967, gradually moving outside of the university by 2000.

The tie between Churchman and Rittel are well-documented, in a 1967 article in Management Science.

Professor Horst Rittel of the University of California Architecture Department has suggested in a recent seminar that the term “wicked problem” refer to that class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values, and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing. The adjective “wicked” is supposed the describe the mischievous and even evil quality of these problems, where proposed “solutions” often turn out to be worse than the symptoms. [p. B-141]

October 14th, 2017

Posted In: pattern language, systems

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The theme of “New Developments of Systems Thinking: From IoT to AI” at the Tenth International Symposium on Service Systems Science presented an opportunity to look at changes currently happening with contemporary technologies.  For a short talk, my agenda focused on three assertions:

  • 1. Open innovation learning, through open sourcing while private sourcing, has grown from 2001 to become mainstream
  • 2. Significant Internet of Things, cloud platforms and cognitive computing initiatives involve commercial and noncommercial contributors
  • 3. Creators, makers and remixers should consciously choose and declare conditions for derivative works

The relevance of the research for my dissertation (currently in review at Aalto University) became a frame for examining IoT, cloud and cognitive.  With both commercial and noncommercial contributors working alongside each other, content creators and makers should think ahead to conditions they wish to place on others who may derive from their works.  The previously posted slides on the Coevolving Commons have been synchronized with the digital audio recording.

The lecture and subsequent questions-and-answers are available online as web video.

For those who just want to listen, downloadable audio files (some with digitally boosted volume) are an option.

Audio

June 26th, 2017

Posted In: services, systems, technologies

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For the “Understanding Systems & Systemic Design” course in the program for the Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University, the lecture slides were the same for both the full-time cohort on March 8 and part-time cohort on March 9, while the oral presentation varied.  The target, in about 90 minutes, was to cover at least 4 of 5 sections, from:

  • 1. Architecting ↔ designing
  • 2. Service systems ← production systems
  • 3. Affordances ↔ pattern language
  • 4. Ecological anthropology ← teleology
  • 5. Inquiring systems ↔ methods

The students were alerted that some of the arrows in the section headings were double-headed, and some were single-headed — with specific meanings.  For each day, the classroom audio was recorded.  That digital audio has now been synchronized with slides that had previously been posted on the Coevolving Commons.

This session was #8 of 15 lectures for the OCADU SFI students.  They had already done some basic reading on systems approaches.  Since they were working towards a Major Research Project (a lighter weight form of a thesis) for their Master of Design degree, my overall agenda for this lecture was to have them reflect on acts of representation.   Systems have already been represented to them in a variety of forms:  textually, orally and visually.  For their Major Research Projects, they would be creating detailed representations, as ways of having their audience appreciate the in-depth study of the world and issues selected for the term.

June 7th, 2017

Posted In: design, pattern language, services, systems

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Teaching methods in a master’s class is different from lecturing on theory.  There’s more emphasis on how, with why subsequently provided as the need for that arises.  Since I had given a dense 20-minute theoretical talk in the month earlier, the invitation from Satu Teerikangas to the program in International Service Business Management was an opportunity to stretch out at a more leisurely pace with students, as they’re preparing for thesis work.

The 3 hours class was conducted in parts:

  • (A) Introductory lecturing for 85 minutes on …
    • 1. Architecting versus designing
    • 2. Alexandrian example → services
  • (B) Faciliated learning, for 55 minutes, with an …
    • 3. Exercise:  trying out pattern language
  • (C) Contextual lecturing for 23 minutes, on …
    • 4. Systems thinking + service systems
    • 5. Ignorance and errors

The classroom interaction was recorded in audio, and is complemented by slides that had been posted on the Coevolving Commons.

coevolving.com/commons/20161202-service-systems-thinking-generative-pattern-language

For people who prefer the real-time experience of being in a classroom, video and audio are provided, below.

January 13th, 2017

Posted In: pattern language, services, systems

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At the PUARL Conference 2016, a proposal was made on adapting pattern language for service systems thinking.  In 1967, Christopher Alexander published Pattern Manual at the founding of the Center for Environmental Structure, describing a pattern format for physical built environments.  While we can learn a lot from the nearly 50 years work originating at the CES, service systems have features beyond physicality that suggest reconsidering some of the foundations of pattern language.

An article for discussion was accepted into the proceedings for the PUARL conference.  The 20-minute presentation quickly covered the following topics:

  • 1. Pattern Manual 1967 + Service Systems
  • 2. Alexandrian example → services
  • 3. Methods clarified since 1973
  • 4. A new format:  amplifying, rephilosophizing, reinterpreting prior doxa
  • 5. Generating and legitimizing in communities

Slides have been added over the audio recording to produce a video presentation.

Audio [20161029_PUARL_Ing_PatternManualS2T.mp3]
(20MB, 20m19s)
[20161029_PUARL_Ing_PatternManualS2T_3db.mp3]
(volume boosted 3db, 20MB, 20m19s)
[20161029_PUARL_Ing_PatternManualS2T_6db.mp3]
(volume boosted 6db, 20MB, 20m19s)
Video HD (20m19s)
H.264 MP4 [1280×720 384Kbps m4v]
(70MB)
[1280×720 5000Kbps m4v]
(76MB)
WebM [1280×720 110Kbps webm]
(34MB)
[1280×720 826Kbps webm]
(153MB)

For people who prefer visuals at their own pace, the slides are posted on the Coevolving Commons.  The video is available on Youtube.

November 17th, 2016

Posted In: pattern language, services, systems

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Slides and audio of our joint talk at the RSD5 Symposium on the experiences and learning about leading systems thinking courses are now available.

Over five years, the Creative Sustainability program evolved from pilot into full practice with a series of courses.  In reflection, the course instructors better learned how to guide students through teaming, mindset, methods and theory.

The presentation is titled “Curriculum Making for Trito Learning: Wayfaring along a meshwork of systems thinking”.  With such a dense title for the Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium, our aim was to explain what those chosen words meant.

Audio [20161015_RSD5_Ing_Nousala_CurriculumMakingTrito.mp3]
(29MB, 29m44s)
[20161015_RSD5_Ing_Nousala_CurriculumMakingTrito_3db.mp3]
(volume boosted 3db, 29MB, 29m44s)
[20161015_RSD5_Ing_Nousala_CurriculumMakingTrito6db.mp3]
(volume boosted 6db, 29MB, 29m44s)
Video HD (29m44s)
H.264 MP4 [1280×720 384Kbps m4v]
(89MB)
[1280×720 5000Kbps m4v]
(96MB)
WebM [1280×720 279Kbps webm]
(89MB)
[1280×720 384Kbps webm]
(197MB)

The streaming media adds the slides to the audio presentation.  In person, in Toronto, we had two instructors from the course speaking: David Ing and Susu Nousala.

Here’s the officially published abstract:

In winter 2016, the Systems Thinking 2 course in the Creative Sustainability (CS) program at Aalto University was led by one of the original curriculum developers from 2010. Over five years, the core CS curriculum had evolved, allowing the level of learning amongst student to advance to a higher level. While this winter 2016 cohort of students was challenged by the intensiveness of the course, satisfaction in the learning appeared to be high.

Following the phenomenological ecological practice theory of Tim Ingold, curriculum making should not be framed primarily as a transmission of information, but instead as a togethering environment where knowledge reproduces amongst the learners. Becoming an authentic systems thinker has each individual progressing on a unique line, wayfaring through an education of attention. Each learner builds on his or her distinct prior experience to stake a position on new ideas, observe the positions of others, and describe a new synthesis in a meshwork of knowledge.

The Systems Thinking 2 course was launched with a orientation where students groups were given 3 weeks to digest references into a group position. Each group then guided classmates through ideas that resonated for them, often amplified through metaphorical stories and exercises. Challenge groups inquired on the positions staked, surfacing deeper questions in dialectic. Each student was then to write a short blog post within a day or two on his or her learning, encouraged on public online web sites where the instructor would comment. Concluding the course, the student groups each prepared an infographic highlighting the most salient content not just of their original positions, but of their appreciation of systems thinking across all they had heard within the past three weeks.

In the logical categories developed by Gregory Bateson, the value of Systems Thinking 2 is in elevating students to becoming trito learners, beyond the levels of proto learning and deutero learning in the prior core courses. These skills are expected to help reduce the commission of errors of the third kind (E3) and fourth kind (E4), in a meta-system of inquiry described by Ian Mitroff.

Patricia Kambitsch created a sketchnote during the presentation.

Sketchnote by Patricia Kambitsch

For people who prefer visuals at their own pace, the slides are available for download.

November 13th, 2016

Posted In: systems, universities

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