2015/07/03 Service Systems Thinking: From Environmental Structure to a New Generative Pattern Language


David Ing


In 2014 and 2015, a variety of communities have been invited to explore the creation of a new generative pattern language for Service Systems Thinking.  After a review of the work of Christopher Alexander from 1964 through 2012, the pattern language approach originating in the built environment has been proposed for cross-appropriation and extension into the new domain.

This brief presentation will highlight three key ideas for collaboration.

(1) What could service systems thinking be?

The SSMED (Service Science, Management, Engineering and Design) vision, founded on a systems thinking core, sees an alternative view of the world in a post-industrial and post-agricultural era.  Service systems that make up modern civilization are being transformed by Internet technologies and globalization.

(2) From architectural programming to a generative pattern language

In the 1960s, a context for the rise of pattern language was architectural programming, framed as problem seeking, while design was framed as problem solving.  The practices employed on the 1985 Eishin project are traced with 8 activities, sketching and refining the pattern language, and combining systems of centers in (i) the notions in people's heads and (ii) the places in the land.  Generativity in the pattern language was described as a way that problems would resolve themselves over time.  New research in service science on the dynamic conceptualization of value for an offering may be compared to the pursuit of wholeness in built environments.

(3) Federated wiki and a value constellation ontology?

Just as wiki was invented to support the 1994 Design Patterns work, the recent advances in federated wiki may enable Service Systems Thinking to support collaboration with multiple perspectives in a new pattern language.  Sample content from the 1968 A Pattern Language Which Generates Multi-Service Centers has been populated into a federated wiki as a demonstration of feasibility.  Additional modeling combining intentional constructs (with iStar) and system representations (with Object Process Methodology) are being considered.

This contribution to PURPLSOC is complemented by two additional online references:

The PURPLSOC community is invited to explore Service Systems Thinking with us.


David Ing, "Service Systems Thinking: From Environmental Structure to a New Generative Pattern Language", PURPLSOC (Pursuit of Pattern Languages for Societal Change) Conference, Danube University Krems, Austria, July 3, 2015.