SSMED -- Service Science, Management, Engineering and Design -- emerged circa 2005. The original vision was not only to develop a new science of service systems, but to also enable an interdisciplinary appreciation across service management, service engineering and service design. Systems thinking and the systems sciences provide strong theoretical foundations for transdisciplinary interaction. Complementary methods and practices specific to the domain of service systems are still nascent.
The label of Service Systems Thinking is proposed as an approach that aims to transcend these boundaries. Twenty years ago, the pattern language framework was cross-appropriated from the construction of buildings and towns to the design of information systems and computer technology. A deeper reading of the Christopher Alexander's works -- from the 1964 Notes on the Synthesis of Form through to the 2012 Battle for Life and Beauty of the Earth -- resurfaces a program for generativity towards which service systems can similarly aspire. Furthermore, just as the original C2 wiki was invented by Ward Cunningham to support collaborating on a pattern language, the new federated wiki technology can serve as the next-generation platform for service systems thinking. Perspectives on service based on systems thinking, e.g. interactive value by Richard Normann and Rafael Ramirez, may be revisited in the light of current services research.
Service systems thinking has received preliminary endorsement across a variety of communities: service engineering (INCOSE), service science (ISSIP and HSSE), systems science (ISSS), pattern languages (Hillside Group and PLoP) and design (SDRN and RSD). Development of a new generative pattern language for service systems next calls for establishing a network of authors and reviewers who can collaborate in open source.
David Ing, "An Invitation to Service Systems Thinking: Collaborating on a New Generative Pattern Language", Relating Systems Thinking and Design 3, AHO (The Oslo School of Architecture and Design), October 2014.