Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

In February, I returned to Finland to teach the Systemic Thinking for Planners and Designers CS0005 course in the master’s program in Creative Sustainability at Aalto University.  I had previously blogged about teaching and learning from the Systemic Thinking for Sustainable Communities CS0004 course in October.  The February course was again intensive, this time on a Friday-Tuesday-Friday schedule.

All of the course content is available as open source in a directory at .  Here’s a map outlining the course.

The style of the classes again centered on a list of references from which students could select according to personal interests, supplemented by lectures outlined with context maps.  The course outline was provided as long form text that evolved online during the week.  Written responses from students were most frequently posted on public blogs, with notifications and responses on the Systemicists Forum on the Systems Community of Inquiry, with separate threads for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and the final essays.

The first lecture for CS0005 was a quick review of the first topic for CS0004 in October, foundations for a systems approach.  This turned out to be a worthwhile activity, as the students (and my co-instructors!) had mulled over the basic ideas of systems for four months, resulting in more reflection and questions than I was expecting.

This background in the first lecture continued with a discussion of method frameworks.

April 25th, 2011

Posted In: education, services, systems

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[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

October 21st, 2010

Posted In: education, systems

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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.

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.

October 1st, 2010

Posted In: education, systems

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One of the benefits of the IBM’s Smarter Planet vision(s) is its encouragement to think about the 21st century world from a fresh perspective.  The rise of the service economy — which is not the same as the service sector — calls for the nurturing of talents with different emphases.  While curricula typically have a strong grasp of agricultural systems (developed since, say, 1600 A,.D.), and industrial systems (since, say, 1850 A.D.), the science of service systems is still emerging.

A study on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education by a 2007 National Academies committee published recommendations in 2008 for professional science master’s education that is interdisciplinary in character.  Such an investment in curriculum change has been proposed as a good use of stimulus funding in the U.S. In concert, 8 of 10 students expressed a wish for universities to revamp their traditional learning environments in the Smarter Planet University Jam conducted in spring 2009 .

In 2008 and 2009, the focus has shifted to primary and secondary school education, convening another National Academies committee centered on K-12, with a report due in 2010.  Jim Spohrer — formerly the Director of Almaden Services Research, and now the Director of IBM Global University Programs — updated me on his current thinking about a potential design for education on Smarter Planet Service Systems.

Systems that move, store, harvest, process Kindergarten Transportation
1 Water and waste management
2 Food and global supply chain
3 Energy and energy grid
4 Information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure
Systems that enable healthy, wealthy and wise people 5 Building and construction
6 Banking and finance
7 Retail and hospitality
8 Healthcare
9 Education (including universities)
Systems that govern 10 Government (cities)
11 Government (regions / states)
12 Government (nations)
Higher education Specific service systems
Professional life Specific service systems

Jim is following confirmation of the effectiveness of a Challenge-Based Learning approach by the New Media Consortium as “a strategy to engage kids in any class by giving them the opportunity to work on significant problems that have real-world implications”.  I liked his ordering of systems into three levels:

January 12th, 2010

Posted In: education, services, systems

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When the Master’s program on International Service Business Management started up at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in 2006 — then it was Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia — I was one of the original authors for the curriculum.  I happened to be in Finland in September 2006 and 2007, so I gave some of the early lectures.

My schedule in 2008 didn’t line up, but I did happen to be back in Finland in September 2009.  Thus, I gave an updated version of the lecture in one of the first classes for the session.  The content included:

  • A. Introduction
  • B. The changing world, and SSMED
  • C. Service-dominant logic
  • D. Service as a paradigm
  • E. A smarter planet
  • F. Artifacts / feeds to follow

The lecture ran just under 2 hours.  I’ve posted the slides on the Coevolving Innovation Commons, under Publications.

October 14th, 2009

Posted In: education, services

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In summer 2006, I constructed a curriculum on International Service Business Management for a one-year master’s program in Finland. Appropriate to the Finnish style, this content was assembled in rapid development. With a profile of students admitted mostly with technical undergraduate degrees and 5-to-10 years of working experience, the curriculum leaned toward the style normally expected in a practical executive MBA program.

In contrast, at presentations in August 2007, and then again in March 2008, Jim Kijima proposed a more ambitious challenge — for the new program at the Tokyo Institute of Technology — looking at services science based on systems science. For full-time graduate students, he sees systems science as a “liberal art” where their perspectives are broadened beyond their disciplinary technical teaching. In Japan, it’s not enough to have T-shaped professionals, they expect pi-shaped people, i.e. two downward stems with at least a major and a minor, in addition to the crossbar.

I took the idea of services science and systems science as a challenge, and constructed an article and a presentation for the ISSS Madison 2008 meeting as an exercise. With a target of master’s level engineering and management students, developing this content was based on a few premises:

September 7th, 2008

Posted In: education, systems

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