Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

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?

October 21st, 2015

Posted In: pattern language, services, systems

Tags: , , , ,

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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.

June 29th, 2015

Posted In: pattern language, services, systems

Tags: , ,


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

August 26th, 2014

Posted In: design, services, systems, technologies

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