Ian Simmonds and David Ing
Evolutionary improvements in day-to-day practice are often paralleled by investments in knowledge creation activities that may result in revolutionary improvements. This is the motivation of a consulting and services organization that funds a research organization.
In this position paper, we describe and reflect on our involvement, as researchers, in developing innovations in specifying and modeling businesses. These developments have challenged the long-held distinction between strategic business design, and information systems design. Changing the categorization of the “system to be designed” impacts practices in both the designs of the social systems of enterprises, and the information systems that support them. This reflection recounts our participation in the creation and ongoing dissemination of a revolutionary perspective on business called Sense-and-Respond.
The vocabulary and categorization of business concepts for Sense-and-Respond have been precisely defined and represented objectively in publications. However, in the network of communities around business specification and business modeling we have observed that these new terms are opportunistically used and newly interpreted from many different subjective viewpoints.
In this first attempt to reflect on this process, we find ourselves comparing our experiences to Kuhn’s observations on scientific revolutions, which are widely known in the “hard” sciences. Business modeling can be seen both from the objective perspective of the information system artifact that is created, and the subjective perspectives of the individuals creating it. We reflect on the difficulties of achieving conceptual revolutions in the joint practices of management consulting and information technology services.
We suggest that additional research be conducted on how progress on both evolutionary and revolutionary changes and interactions between them can be fostered.
Ian Simmonds and David Ing, "A Dance of Creation and Dissemination: Changing Perspectives on Business System Design and Language within and across Communities of Practice", IBM Research Report RC 21854, Oct. 2000.
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