Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Service Systems Thinking, with Generative Pattern Language (Metropolia 2016/12)

Teaching methods in a master’s class is different from lecturing on theory.  There’s more emphasis on how, with why subsequently provided as the need for that arises.  Since I had given a dense 20-minute theoretical talk in the month earlier, the invitation from Satu Teerikangas to the program in International Service Business Management was an opportunity to stretch out at a more leisurely pace with students, as they’re preparing for thesis work.

The 3 hours class was conducted in parts:

  • (A) Introductory lecturing for 85 minutes on …
    • 1. Architecting versus designing
    • 2. Alexandrian example → services
  • (B) Faciliated learning, for 55 minutes, with an …
    • 3. Exercise:  trying out pattern language
  • (C) Contextual lecturing for 23 minutes, on …
    • 4. Systems thinking + service systems
    • 5. Ignorance and errors

The classroom interaction was recorded in audio, and is complemented by slides that had been posted on the Coevolving Commons.

coevolving.com/commons/20161202-service-systems-thinking-generative-pattern-language

For people who prefer the real-time experience of being in a classroom, video and audio are provided, below.

(A) Introductory lecturing

Covering the first 17 slides took 85 minutes.  While the students in Finland are fluent in English, speaking slower aids comprehension.  Satu had invited a teacher observer to watch my style in class.  Afterwards, she remarked on my impromptu telling of a joke about ham and eggs, which is known as a fable on the chicken and the pig.  To be more precise on this story, here’s a better-researched version of the original by Bennett Cerf, published in many American newspapers in October 1964, syndicated by King Features.

A pig and a chicken, alleges W. R. Grady, were promenading down a Fort Worth thoroughfare when the chicken suddenly proposed, “Let’s stop in at yonder beanery and eat some ham and eggs.”

“A thoughtless and repugnant suggestion,” was the pig’s reaction. “Kindly remember that for you a dish of that sort is a mere contribution. For me it means a total commitment.”

When I am in person and able to see the eyes of students, I sometimes pause for listeners to catch up, or climb down the ladder of abstraction.   Here are audio recordings, synchronized with slides.

The video is #1 of 2 available on Youtube.  Alternatively, listeners on the move may prefer a downloadable version.

Audio [20161202_0910_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage.mp3]
(82MB, 1h24m59s)
[20161202_0910_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage_3db.mp3]
(volume boosted 3db, 82MB, 1h24m59s)
[20161202_0910_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage_6db.mp3]
(volume boosted 6db, 82MB, 1h24m59s)
Video HD (1h24m59s)
H.264 MP4 [1280×720 306Kbps m4v]
(262MB)
[1280×720 310Kbps m4v]
(285MB)
WebM [1280×720 105Kbps webm]
(139MB)
[1280×720 826Kbps webm]
(639MB)

A break from the lecture was taken as coffee arrived.

(B) Faciliated learning

To try out the activity of creating a pattern language, I guided students through understanding the form presented on slide 17.  Here’s what they saw on the big screen.

(i) Pattern label An interaction phrased as a present participle
(ii) Voices on issues
(who and what)
Archetypal roles of stakeholders, with concerns and interests posed as questions
(iii) Affording value(s)
(how and why)
Objects and/or events that enable modes of practised capacities for independent or mutual action
(iv) Spatio-temporal frames
(where and when)
Occasions at which dwelling in issues and affordances are salient and at hand
(v) Containing systems
(slower and larger)
Constraining conditions in which the pattern operates, potentially where multi-issue messes are dissolved
(vi) Contained systems
(faster and smaller)
Opportunistic conditions which the pattern contains, potentially allowing ad hoc resolving of a specific issue at hand

We collaborated on creating some preliminary patterns, discussing ideas and recording them on the big screen.  The audio was recorded, but listening to dialogue for 50 minutes isn’t the same as being there in person.

Audio [20161202_1045_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage.mp3]
(48MB, 50m13s)
[20161202_1045_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage_3db.mp3]
(volume boosted 3db, 48MB, 50m13s)
[20161202_1045_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage_6db.mp3]
(volume boosted 6db, 48MB, 50m13s)

During the break, one student had asked about whether we could use pattern language to describe a resourcing service system.  Here’s the result.

Pattern 1: Resourcing service system

(i) Pattern label An interaction phrased as a present participle
Match-making
(ii) Voices on issues
(who and what)
Archetypal roles of stakeholders, with concerns and interests posed as questions
For a project manager, where can I find a specialist to complete some tasks?
For the group manager, do I have the specialist to fill the role?
For the specialist, what opportunities are available to use my skills?
(iii) Affording value(s)
(how and why)
Objects and/or events that enable modes of practised capacities for independent or mutual action
Getting the names of the specialists, so that the project can be delivered to the customer.
Giving tasks to the specialists, to meet the revenue targets given by the company.
Being assigned to a project, so that they can reach individual revenue targets
(iv) Spatio-temporal frames
(where and when)
Occasions at which dwelling in issues and affordances are salient and at hand
Company is big enough that they don’t know all of the specialists
Deadlines would be missed if resources not found
(v) Containing systems
(slower and larger)
Constraining conditions in which the pattern operates, potentially where multi-issue messes are dissolved
For a project staffing person, how do I find out about what skills are available?  (Newspaper ads)
(vi) Contained systems
(faster and smaller)
Opportunistic conditions which the pattern contains, potentially allowing ad hoc resolving of a specific issue at hand
For the specialist, what is the knowledge base of the skills and needs?

With one pattern done, we looked for another to try out.  Multiple students were doing research into Mobility as a Service, so we tried that.

Pattern 2: Mobility as a Service

(i) Pattern label An interaction phrased as a present participle
Relocating on demand
(ii) Voices on issues
(who and what)
Archetypal roles of stakeholders, with concerns and interests posed as questions
For a family head, how do I get to work with transportation methods that I can afford and is convenient?
For a whole family, how to I get to places where conventional services don’t go?
For the parent, how does my child get transported to an event when I’m not there?
(iii) Affording value(s)
(how and why)
Objects and/or events that enable modes of practised capacities for independent or mutual action
Getting information about means of transportation, so that I can make a better choice between them.
Improving utilization of a vehicle resource, reducing the price of mobility
Not having to drive the vehicle, so I can do something else with my time
(iv) Spatio-temporal frames
(where and when)
Occasions at which dwelling in issues and affordances are salient and at hand
Multiple people in the family that need to go to difference places, when there’s only one car
Public transportation doesn’t meet timeframe needs
Alternative to public transportation is available (e.g. e-bike)
(v) Containing systems
(slower and larger)
Constraining conditions in which the pattern operates, potentially where multi-issue messes are dissolved
For the family, can the existing models of transportation be combined as pay-per-use?
(vi) Contained systems
(faster and smaller)
Opportunistic conditions which the pattern contains, potentially allowing ad hoc resolving of a specific issue at hand
For a MaaS customer, which service provider gives the best payment schemes and compatibility with needs?
For a MaaS user, what other services could be available while I’m not at the wheel?

We didn’t critically assess the validity of these two patterns, as we were just learning how the format works out.  The process did clarify that writing patterns is much better as a group activity, rather than as a single individual attempting to independently wordsmith on a blank page.

(C) Contextual lecturing

Having had the experience of writing patterns, some time could be spent on the reasoning behind the format used, and considerations in the approach. We didn’t have time to finish the complete presentation, and covered about 8 slides. This more theoretical content is available as video #2 of 2 on Youtube.  

Here are some downloadable versions.

Audio [20161202_1135_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage.mp3]
(23MB, 23m20s)
[20161202_1135_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage_3db.mp3]
(volume boosted 3db, 23MB, 23m20s)
[20161202_1135_Metropolia_Ing_S2TPatternLanguage_6db.mp3]
(volume boosted 6db, 23MB, 23m20s)
Video HD (23m19s)
H.264 MP4 [1280×720 285Kbps m4v]
(70MB)
[1280×720 289Kbps m4v]
(76MB)
WebM [1280×720 99Kbps webm]
(37MB)
[1280×720 822Kbps webm]
(175MB)

Service systems thinking expressed in the writing of a generative pattern language is still in its infancy.  I encouraged students to contact me if they decided to use pattern language in their thesis work.  Satu subsequently reports that some students looked further into the history of pattern language books, so maybe there might be renewed interest in the approach, with the adjustments that I’ve proposed.


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