Coevolving Innovations

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What is a system? (and the challenges of definition)

When asked “what is a system?”, a deep systems thinker may hesitate to respond.  He or she may be reflecting on whether the response should be “what does a system mean to you?”, or “what should a system mean to me”?  The systems thinker recognizes that meaning comes in a context, and is therefore associated with a system of ideas held by an individual (i.e. me or you) occurs within an environment (i.e. my experience or your experience).

In parallel, consider the question “what is a mother”?  If the questioner is asking for a thoroughly researched answer, perhaps the Oxford Dictionary definition for mother will be helpful.

mother

1. a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth:
‘a mother penguin’
‘a mother of three’

2. (Mother, Mother Superior, or Reverend Mother) (especially as a title or form of address) the head of a female religious community.

3. vulgar slang , chiefly North American short for motherfucker.

On the other hand, the responses to “what does a mother mean to you?” and “what does a mother mean to me?” draws on human experience. Every baby knows what a mother means to him or her, before language — or even coherent thought — develops. For that question, perhaps a poem serves better. Here’s one from Francis Cardinal Spelling (who was first named as Francis Joseph Spellman) .

What is a mother?

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When asked “what is a system?”, a deep systems thinker may hesitate to respond.  He or she may be reflecting on whether the response should be “what does a system mean to you?”, or “what should a system mean to me”?  The systems thinker recognizes that meaning comes in a context, and is therefore associated with a system of ideas held by an individual (i.e. me or you) occurs within an environment (i.e. my experience or your experience).

In parallel, consider the question “what is a mother”?  If the questioner is asking for a thoroughly researched answer, perhaps the Oxford Dictionary definition for mother will be helpful.

mother

1. a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth:
‘a mother penguin’
‘a mother of three’

2. (Mother, Mother Superior, or Reverend Mother) (especially as a title or form of address) the head of a female religious community.

3. vulgar slang , chiefly North American short for motherfucker.

On the other hand, the responses to “what does a mother mean to you?” and “what does a mother mean to me?” draws on human experience. Every baby knows what a mother means to him or her, before language — or even coherent thought — develops. For that question, perhaps a poem serves better. Here’s one from Francis Cardinal Spelling (who was first named as Francis Joseph Spellman) .

What is a mother?

Read more (in a new tab)

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.
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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.
Read more (in a new tab)
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    • 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
    • daviding: “Post normal science by Jerome Ravetz, because we can't ever …” December 4, 2021
      Post normal science by Jerome Ravetz, because we can't ever completely eliminate ignorance. Silvio Funtowicz wrote: > Ravetz abandoned the modernist claim to successively eliminate ignorance & replace it by knowledge; he argued instead for the"management" of uncertainty and ignorance, that is, for strategies of "post-normal science" to render ignorance "usable".https://twitter.com/SFuntowicz/status/1467126642254528522?t=vTmTXGHQRlWNxIFAFpUDKw&s=19
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    • daviding: “Signs that Canadians are still cautious about the pandemic f…” October 27, 2021
      Signs that Canadians are still cautious about the pandemic for Halloween 2021.> But the online poll suggests fewer than half of Canadians will open their doors to trick-or-treaters due to COVID-19. > Of the 56 per cent who checked no, half said they would typically dole out candy on Halloween but will not this time […]
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    • 1995 Francois Jullien, The Propensity of Things
      Jullien views propensity in Chinese philosophy, as a counterpart to causality in Western philosophy.  Some unpacking of his writing in digests may be helpful. Jullien, François. 1995. The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China. Translated by Janet Lloyd. Zone Books. Introduction How can we conceive of the dynamic in terms of the static, in […]
    • Reformation and transformation (Ackoff 2003, 2010)
      In his system of system concepts, Russell Ackoff made the distinction between reformation and transformation in many of his lectures. Here are two written sources. From Redesigining Society (2003) … Systemic Transformation A system is transformed, as contrasted with reformed, when its structure or functions are changed fundamentally. Such changes are discontinuous and qualitative, quantum […]
    • Goal, objective, ideal, pursuits (Ackoff & Emery, 1972)
      While Ackoff’s definitions of goals, objectives and ideals have been republished (and rewritten) multiple times, the 1972 definitions were derived from his original dissertation work.  Accordingly, in addition to the human-readable definitions, some mathematical notation is introduced. — begin paste — OUTCOMES 2.30. End (an immediate intended outcome) of a subject A in a particular […]
    • Pure Inquiring Systems: Antiteleology | The Design of Inquiring Systems | C. West Churchman | 1971
      The fifth way of knowing, as described by West Churchman, is a Singerian inquiring system. (This fifth way of knowing is more colloquially called Unbounded Systems Thinking in Mitroff and Linstone (1993)). The book On Purposeful Systems (Ackoff and Emery, 1972) was derived by Ackoff’s dissertation that was controversially coauthored with West Churchman. Purpose can […]
    • Process-Function Ecology, Wicked Problems, Ecological Evolution | Vasishth | Spanda J | 2015
      Understanding Process-Function Ecology by Ashwani Vasishth leads to luminaries in the systems sciences, including C. West Churchman, Eugene P. Odum and Timothy F.H. Allen.
    • The Innovation Delusion | Lee Vinsel, Andrew L. Russell | 2020
      As an irony, the 2020 book, The Innovation Delusion by #LeeVinsel @STS_News + #AndrewLRussell @RussellProf shouldn’t be seen as an innovation, but an encouragement to join @The_Maintainers where an ongoing thought network can continue. The subtitle “How Our Obsession with the New has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most” recognizes actual innovation, as distinct from […]
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