Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Remembering Doug McDavid

Doug McDavidThe news that Doug McDavid — my friend, colleague, and one of the original cofounders of the Coevolving Innovations web site in 2006 — had passed, first came through mutual IBM contacts.  More details subsequently showed up on LinkedIn from Mike McClintock.

Doug left us on May 9, while working at his desk, likely in the very earliest hours of the morning. His wife Carleen, accustomed to his habit of disappearing into intense all-nighters, expected to get him to pay a bit of attention to breakfast. Instead, she found him at peace amid his books and his papers.

I left a response to that posting.

Doug McDavid was in my path towards systems thinking. He was the first person that I had met, who had a copy and read Living Systems by James Grier Miller. This came from his studies when systems were still active at San Jose State University. I’m not sure, but I seen to recall that Bela H. Banathy was an instructor there.

There was a memorable meeting at IBM Palisades in 1997 with Stephan Haeckel where Ian Simmonds (from IBM Research) and I were trying to make sense of the Sense and Respond approach with Doug. That launched me into attending some seminars with Russell Ackoff, and becoming deeply immersed in the International Society for the Systems Sciences . In later years, Doug would be an active participant at ISSS meetings.

Inside IBM, Doug was leading the Business Architecture community, in our continuing battle for recognition with the Enterprise Architecture competency within IBM. With Martin Gladwell, we started a 3-person experiment with a blog, see http://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/about/ . That push led me to externalize my learnings in the open, even to today.

Doug also introduced me to Jim Spohrer, leading to immersion into the emerging science of service systems, with the ISSS 2005 meeting.

After IBM, Doug and I did stay in touch. We would have occasional web meetings. When I was visiting in Silicon Valley, we would find a midway point restaurant from Elk Grove to meet in person.

Doug was a good friend, and great connector to individuals with deep knowledge and integrity. It’s only in now writing this remembrance that I recall the influences he had on my professional development.

Doug’s work shows up on Google Scholar.  Hey, there’s a 2018 paper that I hadn’t seen before!  He always was a reflective practitioner who left breadcrumbs for others to follow.  His enterprisology web site has been replicated on the Internet Archive, so those curious about his intellectual contributions will have an entry point.

My philosophy has been that every time I see someone, I appreciate that it could be the last time that I will share time with them.  Doug was always generous with his time, and was always looking into new technologies and considering their impacts on society.  He will be missed.

1 Comment

  • Jukka-Pekka Ovaska

    Sad to hear that Doug McDavid has passed. You wrote nicely about him, sounds like he spent his last moments doing something that was meaningful to him.

    It’s good to appreciate that a meeting with someone might be the last one.

    JP


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