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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”.

Digests on Resilience 2011, March 12-16, 2011, Arizona State University

I’m not an ecologist.  However, my interests in the systems sciences has connected me to the research originating with the Resilience Alliance.  I decided to make time to educate myself in the current research presented at Resilience 2011: The Second International Science and Policy Conference, at Arizona State University in Tempe.

The conference program is available online — including video, slides, and abstracts.

As an additional contribution to learning, I’ve posted digests of the talks that I’ve attended on the Coevolving Commons.  I habitually type notes into my laptop during meetings.  Some people find these digests helpful, to gain a high-level appreciation of content before committing more time to watching a video, or reading an article.  (On the digest pages for plenary talks, I’ve provided links back to speakers’ videos and slides).

Attending a 5-day meeting in person enables a rich immersion of ideas in a domain.  I got to see, up close, some people whose work is worth knowing about, including …

… plus many other talks over the four days.  (I caught a plane eastbound on the fifth day, so I missed a few plenary talks).

I’m not an ecologist.  However, my interests in the systems sciences has connected me to the research originating with the Resilience Alliance.  I decided to make time to educate myself in the current research presented at Resilience 2011: The Second International Science and Policy Conference, at Arizona State University in Tempe.

The conference program is available online — including video, slides, and abstracts.

As an additional contribution to learning, I’ve posted digests of the talks that I’ve attended on the Coevolving Commons.  I habitually type notes into my laptop during meetings.  Some people find these digests helpful, to gain a high-level appreciation of content before committing more time to watching a video, or reading an article.  (On the digest pages for plenary talks, I’ve provided links back to speakers’ videos and slides).

Attending a 5-day meeting in person enables a rich immersion of ideas in a domain.  I got to see, up close, some people whose work is worth knowing about, including …

… plus many other talks over the four days.  (I caught a plane eastbound on the fifth day, so I missed a few plenary talks).

Learning about teaching: systems thinking and sustainability course in Finland

[Frank] Oppenheimer had a provocative approach to learning, which can be summarized by saying that …

the best way to learn is to teach, the best way to teach is to keep learning, and that what counts in the end is having had a shared, reflected experience.  (Delacote, 1998)

At the beginning of October, I had blogged about starting the first of two courses in the master’s program in Creative Sustainability at Aalto University.  I’ve been maintaining the content online as open courseware, and have now added an index page.  The context map and the course outline have evolved, and should now have mostly stabilized with the conclusion of the lectures.

The course isn’t quite done yet, as the students have to write research papers.  I took responsibility for the course content, and Aija Staffans and Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen have taken responsibility for guiding the students through the university practicalities and evaluating their learning.

While I have previously instructed at the master’s and doctoral level before, I don’t claim to be the greatest teacher.  I see myself as a researcher who can share content with students, whom may have more or less interest in the topics.  Teaching this first class on Systemic Thinking of Sustainable Communities (with a follow on of Systemic Thinking for Planners and Designers scheduled five months later) has led me to some of my own learning, with overall conclusions that include:

  • 01. Sustainability is a topical theme that can be complemented by the systems sciences
  • 02. Designing for dialogues about future systems is distinct from designing future systems that will learn
  • 03. Open courseware is a foundation, and not a replacement for teaching
  • 04. Education on systems thinking from a systems sciences approach should include both theory and method
  • 05. Today’s students are comfortable with online materials, social communities and blogging

Having the course materials available on the Internet allowed me — with sufficient warning to students that they should check revision dates on documents — a luxury to revise materials just before the lectures … and following the lectures.  Thus, there are some specific learning on each of the content for each lecture:

  • 06. Map 01: Foundations for a systems approach
  • 07. Map 02: Boundaries, inquiry, perspectives
  • 08. Map 03: Learning categories, postnormal science, ignorance
  • 09. Map 04: Dialogue, engagement, intervention
  • 10. Map 05: Ecosystems, collapse, resilience
  • 11. Map 06: System design frameworks

My reflections are expanded, below.

01. Sustainability is a topical theme that can be complemented by the systems sciences

[Frank] Oppenheimer had a provocative approach to learning, which can be summarized by saying that …

the best way to learn is to teach, the best way to teach is to keep learning, and that what counts in the end is having had a shared, reflected experience.  (Delacote, 1998)

At the beginning of October, I had blogged about starting the first of two courses in the master’s program in Creative Sustainability at Aalto University.  I’ve been maintaining the content online as open courseware, and have now added an index page.  The context map and the course outline have evolved, and should now have mostly stabilized with the conclusion of the lectures.

The course isn’t quite done yet, as the students have to write research papers.  I took responsibility for the course content, and Aija Staffans and Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen have taken responsibility for guiding the students through the university practicalities and evaluating their learning.

While I have previously instructed at the master’s and doctoral level before, I don’t claim to be the greatest teacher.  I see myself as a researcher who can share content with students, whom may have more or less interest in the topics.  Teaching this first class on Systemic Thinking of Sustainable Communities (with a follow on of Systemic Thinking for Planners and Designers scheduled five months later) has led me to some of my own learning, with overall conclusions that include:

  • 01. Sustainability is a topical theme that can be complemented by the systems sciences
  • 02. Designing for dialogues about future systems is distinct from designing future systems that will learn
  • 03. Open courseware is a foundation, and not a replacement for teaching
  • 04. Education on systems thinking from a systems sciences approach should include both theory and method
  • 05. Today’s students are comfortable with online materials, social communities and blogging

Having the course materials available on the Internet allowed me — with sufficient warning to students that they should check revision dates on documents — a luxury to revise materials just before the lectures … and following the lectures.  Thus, there are some specific learning on each of the content for each lecture:

  • 06. Map 01: Foundations for a systems approach
  • 07. Map 02: Boundaries, inquiry, perspectives
  • 08. Map 03: Learning categories, postnormal science, ignorance
  • 09. Map 04: Dialogue, engagement, intervention
  • 10. Map 05: Ecosystems, collapse, resilience
  • 11. Map 06: System design frameworks

My reflections are expanded, below.

01. Sustainability is a topical theme that can be complemented by the systems sciences

Systemic Thinking of Sustainable Communities, Aalto University, Finland

At Aalto University — the institution resulting from the merger of the former Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics, and University of Art and Design Helsinki — there’s a new master’s program in Creative Sustainability.  I’m here to launch a pair of new courses:  Systemic Thinking of Sustainable Communities (CS0004) in October 2010, and Systemic Thinking for Planners and Designers (CS0005) scheduled for February 2011.

The design and delivery of this course has been in the agile Finnish style.  I’ve been working with Aija Staffans and Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen in transforming the reading list into a learning style suitable for a class of 24 to 30 students.

As an alternative to creating content in the traditional Powerpoint style, I’ve been putting content directly on the web.  Visual maps help to reduce confusion.  Here’s a map outlining the course.

http://coevolving.com/aalto/201010-cs0004/201010-cs0004-map00-context.png

The details are available in a course outline in long form text.  (This continues to evolve over the duration of the class).

The first lecture is on Foundations for a systems approach.

The second lecture is on Perspectives and diversity.

At Aalto University — the institution resulting from the merger of the former Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics, and University of Art and Design Helsinki — there’s a new master’s program in Creative Sustainability.  I’m here to launch a pair of new courses:  Systemic Thinking of Sustainable Communities (CS0004) in October 2010, and Systemic Thinking for Planners and Designers (CS0005) scheduled for February 2011.

The design and delivery of this course has been in the agile Finnish style.  I’ve been working with Aija Staffans and Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen in transforming the reading list into a learning style suitable for a class of 24 to 30 students.

As an alternative to creating content in the traditional Powerpoint style, I’ve been putting content directly on the web.  Visual maps help to reduce confusion.  Here’s a map outlining the course.

http://coevolving.com/aalto/201010-cs0004/201010-cs0004-map00-context.png

The details are available in a course outline in long form text.  (This continues to evolve over the duration of the class).

The first lecture is on Foundations for a systems approach.

The second lecture is on Perspectives and diversity.

Socio-Technical-Systems, Sustainable Work, Open Systems Theory

I’ve received news about an Aalto University course on  “Socio-Technical Systems Paradigm: History and Further Developments” [see pdf], led by Frans M. van Eijnatten (Eindhoven University of Technology) and Mari Kira (Academy Research Fellow at sustain.tkk.fi), scheduled  for September 27-28 in Espoo, Finland.

The course is associated with the Sustain Research Program that “focuses on creating sustainable work in contemporary working life”.  I also noticed a book on Creating sustainable work systems:  developing social sustainability, edited by Peter Docherty, Mari Kira and Abraham B. Shani (Taylor & Francis 2008) [preview at Google Books].

We would seem to be at the leading edge of research with this topic.  Since I’m active in the systems community, I was intrigued by a reference to an article in 2008 article in Systems Research and Behavioral Science by Mari Kira, and Frans M. van Eijnatten, “Socially sustainable work organizations: A chaordic systems approach”.

This 2008 article has led to a yet-to-be-printed (in 2010) SRBS research note by Merrelyn Emery, “Refutation of Kira & van Eijnatten’s critique of the Emery’s open systems theory” [available in early release].  She points out that the Emery variant of Open Systems Theory (OST) comes with a history of divergence in Social-Technical Systems (STS) thinking.  Emery cites continuing work with OST in a 2007 chapter by Emery and DeGuerre “Evolution of Open Systems Theory” [preview at Google Books in The change handbook:
the definitive resource on today’s best methods for engaging whole systems
, (Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, Steven Cady, editors)].

I’ve received news about an Aalto University course on  “Socio-Technical Systems Paradigm: History and Further Developments” [see pdf], led by Frans M. van Eijnatten (Eindhoven University of Technology) and Mari Kira (Academy Research Fellow at sustain.tkk.fi), scheduled  for September 27-28 in Espoo, Finland.

The course is associated with the Sustain Research Program that “focuses on creating sustainable work in contemporary working life”.  I also noticed a book on Creating sustainable work systems:  developing social sustainability, edited by Peter Docherty, Mari Kira and Abraham B. Shani (Taylor & Francis 2008) [preview at Google Books].

We would seem to be at the leading edge of research with this topic.  Since I’m active in the systems community, I was intrigued by a reference to an article in 2008 article in Systems Research and Behavioral Science by Mari Kira, and Frans M. van Eijnatten, “Socially sustainable work organizations: A chaordic systems approach”.

This 2008 article has led to a yet-to-be-printed (in 2010) SRBS research note by Merrelyn Emery, “Refutation of Kira & van Eijnatten’s critique of the Emery’s open systems theory” [available in early release].  She points out that the Emery variant of Open Systems Theory (OST) comes with a history of divergence in Social-Technical Systems (STS) thinking.  Emery cites continuing work with OST in a 2007 chapter by Emery and DeGuerre “Evolution of Open Systems Theory” [preview at Google Books in The change handbook:
the definitive resource on today’s best methods for engaging whole systems
, (Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, Steven Cady, editors)].

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