Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Conversations on an emerging science of service systems (IFSR Pernegg 2010)

Earlier this year, in April, the International Federation for Systems Research hosted its biannual research conversation, this time in Pernegg, Austria.  This meeting was a four-day opportunity to continue developing ideas on the emerging science of service systems begun in July 2009.

The proceedings from the meeting have now been published.  I’ve extracted the chapter for our team as a separate downloadable document.  The report starts with a description of our activities, and an outline of our progress.

The conversation began with self-reflections on personal experiences leading each of the individuals to the systems sciences, acknowledging the influence of those trajectories on their perspectives on service systems.  In recognition of this science of service systems as a potentially a new paradigm, much of the time together was spent in sensemaking about the intersection between ongoing services research and systems sciences perspectives.  This sensemaking led the team to focus the dialogue more on posing the right questions to clarify thinking broadly, as opposed to diving deeply towards solutions that would be tied up as issues within a problematique.

During the conversation, the progress on ideas was recorded on flipcharts.  Nearing the end of our time together, the team cut up the flipcharts with scissors, and collated the discussion threads into five clusters:  (i) philosophy; (ii) science; (iii) models; (iv) education; (v) development.  With service systems as a new domain, the team found all five clusters underdeveloped.  Recognizing that all five clusters are coevolving, the phenomenon of service systems was listed in order from the most concrete (i.e. development) through the most abstract (i.e. philosophy).  Each of the five clusters was then summarized by a meta-question.

  • 1. Development: How do we transition from the current paradigm?
  • 2. Education: How do we help others learn about service systems?
  • 3. Models: How do we understand and decribe service systems?
  • 4. Science: What do we know about service systems?
  • 5. Philosophy: Why do (or should) we care about services systems?

Each of the meta-questions is described below, with some of the dialogue content associated with the question clusters.

IFSR conversations follow the methods of Béla H. Bánáthy, which means that each participant starting from triggering questions individually develops partial answers and (possibly even more) partial questions.  At Pernegg, we had researchers from four countries (which is even more complicated when we list current places of residency in addition to nationality):

As researchers, we puzzled our way through developing an appreciation for service systems at a foundational level.  To give a deeper sense of the territory that we covered during the conversation, here’s an outline of the final report.

  • 1. Development of service systems:  How do we transition from the current paradigm?
    • 1.1 What are the entry points to service systems from where they are?
    • 1.2 Which systems are better suited for “designing with” rather than “designing for”?
    • 1.3 What motivations or incentives encourage the shift to service systems from the legacy state?
    • 1.4 Do we know of concrete examples of the new service systems?
  • 2. Education on service systems: How do we help others learn about service systems?
    • 2.1 Through which processes will novices / beginners best learn about service systems?
    • 2.2 How do the systems sciences help in learning about service systems?
    • 2.3 How is the approach to service systems different from prior approaches to education?
  • 3. Models of service systems: How do we understand and describe service systems?
    • 3.1 What should the model deal with?  For what purposes to we model service systems?
    • 3.2 How do we reconcile service systems across scientists, engineers and managers?
    • 3.3 In which ways are service system models different from other models of the world we’ve already created?
  • 4. Science of service systems: What do we know about service systems?
    • 4.1 What is the scope of a science of service systems?
    • 4.2 Are service systems really new?
    • 4.3 How far are we on advancing a science of service systems?
  • 5. Philosophy of service systems: Why do (or should) we care service systems?
    • 5.1 Why would we need a philosophy of service systems?
    • 5.2 What shifts in philosophy might be associated with a service systems approach?
    • 5.3 What is the scope of a philosophy of service systems?
  • 6. Continuing inquiry

People looking for simple answers may be disabused of that idea, as this group of researchers didn’t have that end as a goal.  People who are interested in foundational questions may find the downloadable chapter of interest.

1 Comment


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  • RSS qoto.org/@daviding (Mastodon)

    • daviding: “In the #anthropocene, humans can impact less.…” April 17, 2022
      In the #anthropocene, humans can impact less.> The report shows that Canada's economy can grow without increasing carbon emissions. The country's GDP grew 22 per cent between 2005 and 2020, but carbon emissions declined by 9.3 per cent over that period.https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/climate-change-pandemic-emissions-canada-1.6420159
    • daviding: “With #CodeForCanada , a presentation + workshop guide for #C…” April 15, 2022
      With #CodeForCanada , a presentation + workshop guide for #CanadianDigitalService on "#SystemsThinking through Changes: An #ActionLearning guide" is available CC-BY-SA https://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/systems-thinking-through-changes/ . A milestone release by #SystemsChanges Learning Circle for practitioners, alongside publication in review
    • daviding: “When there is a larger threat from outside, attention is dra…” March 25, 2022
      When there is a larger threat from outside, attention is drawn away from internal struggles within. #RobertReich puts a historical perspective on current affairs in the USA. > Putin has brought a fractured Nato together. Maybe he’s bringing America back together too. It’s the thinnest of silver linings to the human disaster he’s creating, but […]
    • daviding: “For those who are critical about "design thinking", #KarelVr…” January 27, 2022
      For those who are critical about "design thinking", #KarelVredenburg makes the strong distinction between design and pseudo-design. https://www.karelvredenburg.com/home/2021/10/9/cr2h7dllvanrttb1tn8cfx1zjuhqol
    • daviding: “"Why Science Does Not Know: A Brief History of (the Notion o…” December 4, 2021
      "Why Science Does Not Know: A Brief History of (the Notion of) Scientific Ignorance in the Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Centuries" https://journalhistoryknowledge.org/articles/10.5334/jhk.40/?s=09
  • RSS on IngBrief

    • The Aesthetics of Nature | Carlson and Berleant (2004)
      Towards a non-anthropocentric view of aesthetics, we explore the legacy of work in the aesthetics of nature. The collection of essays in The Aesthetics of Natural Environments (2004), edited by Allen Carlson and Arnold Berleant, illuminates some of the issues and debates on this perspective. In the Acknowledgements for the 2004 book is a trail […]
    • Genealogy of Systems Thinking | Debora Hammond | 2002
      In the history of science of systems thinking, Debora Hammond related the backgrounds and connections of the founder of the Society for General Systems Research, that is now the International Society for the Systems Sciences. Boulding (1956) plays a large role in framing two orientations towards “general systems theory”. Kenneth Boulding used to distinguish between […]
    • Moral character in human systems (Geoffrey Vickers) | Adams, Catron, Cook (1995)
      Geoffrey Vickers saw human systems as different, with moral character distinguishing from natural and manmade systems. Gregory Bateson, in a more general view of systems, saw morality as entering in systems processes.
    • Protein remover tablets (RGP)
      As protein remover tablets for RGP contact lenses become more difficult to find, the hydrogen peroxide solutions are an easy-to-find alternative.
    • Book review of ZHANG, Zailin (2008) “Traditional Chinese Philosophy as the Philosophy of the Body” | Robin R. Wang | 2009
      In this review of a philosophical work written in Chinese, a comparison is made between Chinese philosophy centering on the body, in comparison to Western philosopy centered on the mind. (I found a reference to this book, tracing back from Keekok Lee (2017) Chapter 9, footnote 8.
    • Approche systémique
      The translation from English "systems thinking" to French "la pensée systémique" misses meaning. "Approche systémique" has lineage to "Conférences Macy", "General System Theory (Bertalanffy)" and "Gregory Bateson"
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • RSS on daviding.com

    • 2022/09 Moments September 2022
      A month with much activity, starting in NYC for a weekend, returning to Toronto to care for my father in the hospital, and ending the month in Madrid, Spain.
    • 2022/08 Moments August 2022
      Busy social calendar of summer family gatherings and local festivals, interspersed with otherwise invisible journal article writing.
    • 2022/07 Moments July 2022
      Enjoying summer with Toronto Jazz, then road trip to Iowa and Chicago.
    • 2022/06 Moments June 2022
      Social calendar for month was full with Toronto Biennal of Art, Luminato, Taste of Little Italy and Toronto Jazz Festival, plus family dim sum and dinners.
    • 2022/05 Moments May 2022
      Spring return from California visit, into Toronto coming back to life with city activities.
    • 2022/04 Moments April 2022
      Spring sees art exhibitions opening up around Toronto, then a trip to the Bay Area in Northern California to visit family and friends.
  • RSS on Media Queue

  • Meta

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
    Theme modified from DevDmBootstrap4 by Danny Machal