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Is that affordance essential? (HSSE)

For the 1st International Conference on Human Side of Service Innovation, I had been asked  by Kelly Lyons to contribute an article for a session on Frameworks for Service Systems.  I had worked on the article in fall 2011, but leading a 6-day conference in San Jose immediately before the start of the HSSE meeting in San Francisco made completion improbable.  Having prepared an abstract and outline for “Is That Affordance Essential? Pathology in service systems and redesigns for sustainability”, I couldn’t squeeze in an article by the winter publication deadline. I was, however, prepared to share a presentation on research-in-progress.  I expect that I’ll be able to finish this research paper over the next year, (and hope that I’ll get a longer time slot to present than the 15 minutes allotted at HSSE).

The original abstract for my presentation reads:

A service systems may exhibit pathologies, i.e. an abnormal, unhealthy, maladjusted or inefficient state that is maintained in a living system for a significant period. Correcting a pathology may require a history-making change where significant capital investment is needed.

As a way of reframing the definition of a service system, interactions between parties are expressed as an interaction where a provider offers affordances and clients may have varying levels of ability. The needs and expectations of high-ability clients can be contrasted to those of low-ability clients. Portraying affordances as essential or discretionary may enable segmentation of client target groups into coproducing or full-service arrangements.

Some example service systems, in municipal services, pension plans and open source communities are described to illustrate considerations of pathologies towards potential pursuits of sustainability.

Alternative approaches to correct the pathologies are related to theories of ecological complexity, in panarchies and supply-side sustainability. Directions for further development are outlined.

The slides are available on the Coevolving Commons.  The 15 minutes gave enough time to describe some motivating cases, and then work my way down a list of definitions supplemented by pointers to originating sources.

As the presentation was ending, time was allowed for one question.  Jim Spohrer asked about the definition of affordances (with abilities) that I used.  My initial response wasn’t sufficient, so he probed some more.  A moment later, I figured out that Don Norman — who is renowned for the idea of affordances in The Design of Everyday Things — was sitting beside Jim.  We didn’t get a chance to complete that conversation, as the next speaker came on.  Not recognizing Norman in the audience probably saved me from being intimidated and more self-conscious during the presentation.

While I had researched Norman’s view on affordances previously, the citation that is in the working paper is not in the 15-minute presentation.  In an essay on “Affordances and Design” on Norman’s web site, he revises the label of “affordances” in his book to “perceived affordances”.

For the 1st International Conference on Human Side of Service Innovation, I had been asked  by Kelly Lyons to contribute an article for a session on Frameworks for Service Systems.  I had worked on the article in fall 2011, but leading a 6-day conference in San Jose immediately before the start of the HSSE meeting in San Francisco made completion improbable.  Having prepared an abstract and outline for “Is That Affordance Essential? Pathology in service systems and redesigns for sustainability”, I couldn’t squeeze in an article by the winter publication deadline. I was, however, prepared to share a presentation on research-in-progress.  I expect that I’ll be able to finish this research paper over the next year, (and hope that I’ll get a longer time slot to present than the 15 minutes allotted at HSSE).

The original abstract for my presentation reads:

A service systems may exhibit pathologies, i.e. an abnormal, unhealthy, maladjusted or inefficient state that is maintained in a living system for a significant period. Correcting a pathology may require a history-making change where significant capital investment is needed.

As a way of reframing the definition of a service system, interactions between parties are expressed as an interaction where a provider offers affordances and clients may have varying levels of ability. The needs and expectations of high-ability clients can be contrasted to those of low-ability clients. Portraying affordances as essential or discretionary may enable segmentation of client target groups into coproducing or full-service arrangements.

Some example service systems, in municipal services, pension plans and open source communities are described to illustrate considerations of pathologies towards potential pursuits of sustainability.

Alternative approaches to correct the pathologies are related to theories of ecological complexity, in panarchies and supply-side sustainability. Directions for further development are outlined.

The slides are available on the Coevolving Commons.  The 15 minutes gave enough time to describe some motivating cases, and then work my way down a list of definitions supplemented by pointers to originating sources.

As the presentation was ending, time was allowed for one question.  Jim Spohrer asked about the definition of affordances (with abilities) that I used.  My initial response wasn’t sufficient, so he probed some more.  A moment later, I figured out that Don Norman — who is renowned for the idea of affordances in The Design of Everyday Things — was sitting beside Jim.  We didn’t get a chance to complete that conversation, as the next speaker came on.  Not recognizing Norman in the audience probably saved me from being intimidated and more self-conscious during the presentation.

While I had researched Norman’s view on affordances previously, the citation that is in the working paper is not in the 15-minute presentation.  In an essay on “Affordances and Design” on Norman’s web site, he revises the label of “affordances” in his book to “perceived affordances”.

“The Emerging Science of Service Systems”, Organizational Dynamics Lecture Series, University of Pennsylvania, February 15, 2010

I attended the Memorial Service for Russell Ackoff at the University of Pennsylvania in February.  Since I was already in Philadelphia, I was invited to hang out for an extra day to present at the Organizational Dynamics Lecture Series, as part of the master’s program in the School of Arts and Sciences.  I gave a talk on “The Emerging Science of Service Systems”, based on the research that I’ve been doing since I first saw Jim Spohrer speak at the ISSS 2005 meeting in Cancun.

I had previously posted the slides for the talk on the Coevolving Innovation Commons Publications archive.  An outline for the talk is as follows:

  • A. Introduction
  • B. The “new service economy” and SSMED
  • C. The systems in service systems
  • D. Artifacts / feeds to follow

The presentation is now available as a web video on the University of Pennsylvania media site for the School of Arts and Sciences.

I’m one, but not the only, researcher looking into Service Science, Engineering, Management and Design from the foundations of a systems approach.  A group from the ISSS has been having conversations on the emerging science. Following the question-and-answer period after the formal talk, some students stayed on to ask questions about systems in more depth.  The University of Pennsylvania, with a long tradition of systems thinking, continues to attract students with that interest!

The Organizational Dynamics program is now the home of the Russell Lincoln Ackoff Systems Thinking Library.  Coincidentally, the ISSS Cancun 2005 meeting with Russ Ackoff as the keynote speaker was the last formal presentation that I saw of him.  I never had the opportunity to discuss service systems with Russ, and hope that he might have appreciated the direction that I’m taking with the services sciences agenda.

I attended the Memorial Service for Russell Ackoff at the University of Pennsylvania in February.  Since I was already in Philadelphia, I was invited to hang out for an extra day to present at the Organizational Dynamics Lecture Series, as part of the master’s program in the School of Arts and Sciences.  I gave a talk on “The Emerging Science of Service Systems”, based on the research that I’ve been doing since I first saw Jim Spohrer speak at the ISSS 2005 meeting in Cancun.

I had previously posted the slides for the talk on the Coevolving Innovation Commons Publications archive.  An outline for the talk is as follows:

  • A. Introduction
  • B. The “new service economy” and SSMED
  • C. The systems in service systems
  • D. Artifacts / feeds to follow

The presentation is now available as a web video on the University of Pennsylvania media site for the School of Arts and Sciences.

I’m one, but not the only, researcher looking into Service Science, Engineering, Management and Design from the foundations of a systems approach.  A group from the ISSS has been having conversations on the emerging science. Following the question-and-answer period after the formal talk, some students stayed on to ask questions about systems in more depth.  The University of Pennsylvania, with a long tradition of systems thinking, continues to attract students with that interest!

The Organizational Dynamics program is now the home of the Russell Lincoln Ackoff Systems Thinking Library.  Coincidentally, the ISSS Cancun 2005 meeting with Russ Ackoff as the keynote speaker was the last formal presentation that I saw of him.  I never had the opportunity to discuss service systems with Russ, and hope that he might have appreciated the direction that I’m taking with the services sciences agenda.

Service Science, and Service Oriented Architecture

Some months ago, Kelly Lyons recommended me as a panelist for a workshop at Cascon 2008 on “SOA Research Challenges: Current Progress and Future Challenges”, on the topic of Service Science, Management and Engineering. I found that Cascon workshops share existing knowledge and develop new knowledge — in contrast to paper presentations about completed work. The workshop was described in the following way:

This workshop will identify critical SOA research challenges that need to be addressed by the research community for SOA to fulfill its promise. The workshop will present a taxonomy of SOA research issues that will be used to frame the rest of the discussion. The workshop will focus on research needs that are currently causing the greatest pain for SOA practitioners. Topics will include “hard problems”, tooling issues, governance challenges, monitoring through the life cycle, and the longer-term evolution of SOA. The workshop will include presentations by practitioners and the research community in addressing critical unmet issues.

Most of the time, my research work and day job are only loosely coupled. In the Cascon context, my longer-horizon organizational and economic thinking was to be applied with more immediate question issues related to technology. I was given the following outline to as a suggestion for my talk:

  • Overview of the topic, in this case SSME
  • Why is it important to talk about this (rationale)
  • How it relates to SOA
  • What are current efforts in establishing this relationship
  • Challenges and gaps. This could apply to SSME, SSME and SOA, and/or education/training for people developing service-oriented systems

I responded to the speaking opportunity with a new presentation. Some themes I’ve covered in previous talks, e.g. ICT capital, a new science of service systems, and T-shaped professionals. Some new ideas that I added were:

During the workshop, I wrote up a digest as I listened to the other panelists. Some things that I learned during the afternoon were:

Some months ago, Kelly Lyons recommended me as a panelist for a workshop at Cascon 2008 on “SOA Research Challenges: Current Progress and Future Challenges”, on the topic of Service Science, Management and Engineering. I found that Cascon workshops share existing knowledge and develop new knowledge — in contrast to paper presentations about completed work. The workshop was described in the following way:

This workshop will identify critical SOA research challenges that need to be addressed by the research community for SOA to fulfill its promise. The workshop will present a taxonomy of SOA research issues that will be used to frame the rest of the discussion. The workshop will focus on research needs that are currently causing the greatest pain for SOA practitioners. Topics will include “hard problems”, tooling issues, governance challenges, monitoring through the life cycle, and the longer-term evolution of SOA. The workshop will include presentations by practitioners and the research community in addressing critical unmet issues.

Most of the time, my research work and day job are only loosely coupled. In the Cascon context, my longer-horizon organizational and economic thinking was to be applied with more immediate question issues related to technology. I was given the following outline to as a suggestion for my talk:

  • Overview of the topic, in this case SSME
  • Why is it important to talk about this (rationale)
  • How it relates to SOA
  • What are current efforts in establishing this relationship
  • Challenges and gaps. This could apply to SSME, SSME and SOA, and/or education/training for people developing service-oriented systems

I responded to the speaking opportunity with a new presentation. Some themes I’ve covered in previous talks, e.g. ICT capital, a new science of service systems, and T-shaped professionals. Some new ideas that I added were:

During the workshop, I wrote up a digest as I listened to the other panelists. Some things that I learned during the afternoon were:

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