Coevolving Innovations

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Socio-Technical Systems, Service Systems Science

In order to move forward, the Systems Changes Learning Circle has taken a step backwards to appreciate the scholarly work that has come before us.  This has included the Socio-Psychological Systems, Socio-Technical Systems and Socio-Ecological Systems perspective, from the postwar Tavistock Institute for Human Relations.  The deep dive on “Causal texture, contextualism, contextural” takes us back to 1934-1935 articles by Pepper, Tolman and Brunswik.  These influenced Fred Emery and Eric Trist in their famous 1965 article.

In Trist’s later years (i.e. between 1977-1985, when he was in Toronto at York University, with the Action Learning Group). the younger researcher with whom he was collaborating most was Calvin Pava.  There is a great summary of Pava’s work and life in Austrom and Ordowich (2019).

Through some fortunate coordination, I was able to meet Doug Austrom in Indianapolis in August 2018, having discovered a preprint of the article, just a few days before I was to travel to Iowa.

In our conversation, I discovered that as Austrom, after completing his doctoral dissertation at York U. in 1982, received an appointment as a postdoctoral researcher.  Austrom was interested in Quality of Life, and Trist was interested in Quality of Working Life.  This led to many conversations.  Austrom and Trist never published anything together, as Trist was wrapping up his project with the Ontario Ministry of Labour.  Austrom has since had an entire career in Socio-Technical Systems, consulting to the current day.… Read more (in a new tab)

In order to move forward, the Systems Changes Learning Circle has taken a step backwards to appreciate the scholarly work that has come before us.  This has included the Socio-Psychological Systems, Socio-Technical Systems and Socio-Ecological Systems perspective, from the postwar Tavistock Institute for Human Relations.  The deep dive on “Causal texture, contextualism, contextural” takes us back to 1934-1935 articles by Pepper, Tolman and Brunswik.  These influenced Fred Emery and Eric Trist in their famous 1965 article.

In Trist’s later years (i.e. between 1977-1985, when he was in Toronto at York University, with the Action Learning Group). the younger researcher with whom he was collaborating most was Calvin Pava.  There is a great summary of Pava’s work and life in Austrom and Ordowich (2019).

Through some fortunate coordination, I was able to meet Doug Austrom in Indianapolis in August 2018, having discovered a preprint of the article, just a few days before I was to travel to Iowa.

In our conversation, I discovered that as Austrom, after completing his doctoral dissertation at York U. in 1982, received an appointment as a postdoctoral researcher.  Austrom was interested in Quality of Life, and Trist was interested in Quality of Working Life.  This led to many conversations.  Austrom and Trist never published anything together, as Trist was wrapping up his project with the Ontario Ministry of Labour.  Austrom has since had an entire career in Socio-Technical Systems, consulting to the current day.… Read more (in a new tab)

Systems Coevolving: Sciences, Service, Smarter, Cognitive

Video and audio recordings of my lecture for the Urban Systems course at Aalto University in February have now been produced.  While I was in Finland teaching in another department, I was asked to lecture on Smarter Cities.

Here’s the abstract that was sent in advance:

The popularization of the Smarter Cities movement coincided with IBM’s campaign originating from 2009. The Smarter Cities ideas was an outgrowth from the Smarter Planet initiatives, which had emerged from the IBM Global Innovation Outlooks beginning in 2004.

This speaker was a consultant at IBM involved in Smarter Cities engagements, while simultanously conducing research into Service Systems Science.

The evolution of ideas both outside and inside IBM are reviewed, through a history of (i) systems sciences; (ii) service science, management, engineering and design (SSMED), (iii) service systems science; and (iv) smarter planet and smarter cities. Looking forward, the prospects for the (v) cognitive era and a (vi) service systems thinking is outlined.

Audio [20160210_Aalto_UrbanSystems_Ing_SystemsCoevolving.mp3]
(79MB, 1h22m24s)
[20160210_Aalto_UrbanSystems_Ing_SystemsCoevolving_plus3db.mp3]
(volume boosted 3db, 79MB, 1h22m24s)
Video HD (1h22m09s)
H.264 MP4 [1280×720 417Kbps m4v]
(270MB)
[1280×720 3779Kbps m4v]
(2.3GB) [on archive.org]
WebM [1280×720 316Kbps webm]
(270MB)
[1280×720 3604Kbps m4v]
(2.4GB)

As a quicker reference, the slides may be useful if fast-forwarding to a specific section is desired.

presentation slides for Systems Coevolving: Sciences, Service, Smarter, Cognitive

Video and audio recordings of my lecture for the Urban Systems course at Aalto University in February have now been produced.  While I was in Finland teaching in another department, I was asked to lecture on Smarter Cities.

Here’s the abstract that was sent in advance:

The popularization of the Smarter Cities movement coincided with IBM’s campaign originating from 2009. The Smarter Cities ideas was an outgrowth from the Smarter Planet initiatives, which had emerged from the IBM Global Innovation Outlooks beginning in 2004.

This speaker was a consultant at IBM involved in Smarter Cities engagements, while simultanously conducing research into Service Systems Science.

The evolution of ideas both outside and inside IBM are reviewed, through a history of (i) systems sciences; (ii) service science, management, engineering and design (SSMED), (iii) service systems science; and (iv) smarter planet and smarter cities. Looking forward, the prospects for the (v) cognitive era and a (vi) service systems thinking is outlined.

Audio [20160210_Aalto_UrbanSystems_Ing_SystemsCoevolving.mp3]
(79MB, 1h22m24s)
[20160210_Aalto_UrbanSystems_Ing_SystemsCoevolving_plus3db.mp3]
(volume boosted 3db, 79MB, 1h22m24s)
Video HD (1h22m09s)
H.264 MP4 [1280×720 417Kbps m4v]
(270MB)
[1280×720 3779Kbps m4v]
(2.3GB) [on archive.org]
WebM [1280×720 316Kbps webm]
(270MB)
[1280×720 3604Kbps m4v]
(2.4GB)

As a quicker reference, the slides may be useful if fast-forwarding to a specific section is desired.

presentation slides for Systems Coevolving: Sciences, Service, Smarter, Cognitive

Systems thinking and (the) systems science(s) in a system of ideas

On the discussion list of the Systems Science Working Group, there’s a request to comment on the Overview of Systems Science wiki page (draft version 0.5) that is part of the Guide to Systems Engineering Book of Knowledge.  Basic descriptions are hard to write.  Asking the “what is …” question is a challenge of ontology, and may not cover the “why …” question coming from the perspective of teleology or the “how …” question coming from the history and philosophy of science.

I appreciate that novices like definitions.  In a scholarly style, I generally cite descriptions by individual thinkers who each have a system of ideas.  In an attempt to appreciate commonalities and differences between prominent figures in the systems movement, I had been hosting a series of Systems Sciences Connections Conversations aimed at traversing social ties between individuals.  As a fun example, we asked Allenna Leonard if Stafford Beer and Jane Jacobs knew each other, as they both lived in the Annex neighbourhood in Toronto.  Allenna’s response was, of course, they would see each other in places like the drug store.  Stafford Beer did use Cities and the Wealth of Nations as a foundation for his work in Uruguay, but there wasn’t really an occasion for ongoing collaboration.  Developing a network of systems of ideas is a more modest endeavour than trying to create a system of system of ideas.

Describing the world in objective entities isn’t the way I think.  … Read more (in a new tab)

On the discussion list of the Systems Science Working Group, there’s a request to comment on the Overview of Systems Science wiki page (draft version 0.5) that is part of the Guide to Systems Engineering Book of Knowledge.  Basic descriptions are hard to write.  Asking the “what is …” question is a challenge of ontology, and may not cover the “why …” question coming from the perspective of teleology or the “how …” question coming from the history and philosophy of science.

I appreciate that novices like definitions.  In a scholarly style, I generally cite descriptions by individual thinkers who each have a system of ideas.  In an attempt to appreciate commonalities and differences between prominent figures in the systems movement, I had been hosting a series of Systems Sciences Connections Conversations aimed at traversing social ties between individuals.  As a fun example, we asked Allenna Leonard if Stafford Beer and Jane Jacobs knew each other, as they both lived in the Annex neighbourhood in Toronto.  Allenna’s response was, of course, they would see each other in places like the drug store.  Stafford Beer did use Cities and the Wealth of Nations as a foundation for his work in Uruguay, but there wasn’t really an occasion for ongoing collaboration.  Developing a network of systems of ideas is a more modest endeavour than trying to create a system of system of ideas.

Describing the world in objective entities isn’t the way I think.  … Read more (in a new tab)

Panel on Service Systems and Systems Sciences in the Twenty-First Century, INCOSE International Symposium 2010

Since 2008, I’ve been conducting research on service systems and the systems sciences, with my core collaborators Gary Metcalf, Jennifer Wilby and Kyoichi (Jim) Kijima.  As senior members of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, we’ve been working towards a more formal association with the International Council on Systems Engineering, and with the Systems Science Working Group in particular.  Our organizations came together for the first time in the INCOSE International Symposium 2010, in Chicago.

For the International Symposium, our contribution was a panel on our progress in researching service systems and the systems sciences, with position papers and presentation slides discussed in Chicago in July.  After that meeting, a summary of the session was reported in an article published in INCOSE Insight in October.

The publications page on this web site includes links to the:

Our core group will be continuing our research into 2011, with a two-day co-learning workshop at the International Workshop 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The linkages between the systems sciences and systems engineering should continue to develop.

Since 2008, I’ve been conducting research on service systems and the systems sciences, with my core collaborators Gary Metcalf, Jennifer Wilby and Kyoichi (Jim) Kijima.  As senior members of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, we’ve been working towards a more formal association with the International Council on Systems Engineering, and with the Systems Science Working Group in particular.  Our organizations came together for the first time in the INCOSE International Symposium 2010, in Chicago.

For the International Symposium, our contribution was a panel on our progress in researching service systems and the systems sciences, with position papers and presentation slides discussed in Chicago in July.  After that meeting, a summary of the session was reported in an article published in INCOSE Insight in October.

The publications page on this web site includes links to the:

Our core group will be continuing our research into 2011, with a two-day co-learning workshop at the International Workshop 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The linkages between the systems sciences and systems engineering should continue to develop.

Systems Community of Inquiry: online social networking in the open

Earlier this year during the Russell Ackoff memorial, I reconnected with some members of the systems community in Philadelphia.  This event was taken as an opportunity to reinvigorate the systems community, in honour of Russ.  With his colleagues and former students scattered around the world, an Internet-based presence seemed appropriate.

Systems Community of InquiryWe’ve now formally launched SysCOI.com — the Systems Community of InquiryIt is intended as open, worldwide network of individuals interested in systems thinking, the systems sciences and/or systems practice.

Inquiry is “an activity which produces knowledge” (Churchman, 1971).  The shared foundations and perspective in systems suggests more than a community of interest, but less than a community of practice (Wenger, 1999).  The interactions as a community aim to (i) foster interactions contributing knowledge and wisdom to the online world, and (ii) cultivate social relationships between systemicists.

The web interface follows an activity stream style of interaction, as has become popular with Facebook.  In the interest of completely open communications,  content posted on SysCOI.com is visible anywhere the Internet is accessible, and actively crawled by search engines.  There is no ambiguity about privacy with this online community: all communications are public.  The feature of choosing your “friends” on this web site enables following a smaller set of contributors, as the size of the social network increases.  Discussions with longer-running threads can be organized with groups and forums provided on the site.

Pre-announcement of the new web site occurred in April at the Systems Research Conversation at Pernegg, sponsored by the IFSR. … Read more (in a new tab)

Earlier this year during the Russell Ackoff memorial, I reconnected with some members of the systems community in Philadelphia.  This event was taken as an opportunity to reinvigorate the systems community, in honour of Russ.  With his colleagues and former students scattered around the world, an Internet-based presence seemed appropriate.

Systems Community of InquiryWe’ve now formally launched SysCOI.com — the Systems Community of InquiryIt is intended as open, worldwide network of individuals interested in systems thinking, the systems sciences and/or systems practice.

Inquiry is “an activity which produces knowledge” (Churchman, 1971).  The shared foundations and perspective in systems suggests more than a community of interest, but less than a community of practice (Wenger, 1999).  The interactions as a community aim to (i) foster interactions contributing knowledge and wisdom to the online world, and (ii) cultivate social relationships between systemicists.

The web interface follows an activity stream style of interaction, as has become popular with Facebook.  In the interest of completely open communications,  content posted on SysCOI.com is visible anywhere the Internet is accessible, and actively crawled by search engines.  There is no ambiguity about privacy with this online community: all communications are public.  The feature of choosing your “friends” on this web site enables following a smaller set of contributors, as the size of the social network increases.  Discussions with longer-running threads can be organized with groups and forums provided on the site.

Pre-announcement of the new web site occurred in April at the Systems Research Conversation at Pernegg, sponsored by the IFSR. … Read more (in a new tab)

Russell Ackoff, abridged

In Toronto — partially in response to members of the International Society for the Systems Sciences looking for sustainable alternatives to the pattern of annual meetings outside of North America every other year — we’ve started a Systems Sciences Meetup group.  There’s a rich history of people and events in the systems sciences in Toronto, and we’ve been remiss in keeping the momentum going.

The purpose of these meetups is to enable conversations amongst like-minded people interested in (continuing to) climb the learning curve on (the) systems science(s).  Having a keynote speaker provides a centre around which the conversations can coalesce.  In November 2009, Allenna Leonard led the first meetup with a talk on “What are the Systems Sciences”.  Given the holiday season, we deferred the next meeting to January.

With the announcement of a Memorial Celebration for Russell Ackoff in Philadelphia in February, it seemed natural to prepare a session for those unfamiliar with his life and work.  Thus, for the January 6 Systems Sciences Meetup, I’ll be leading a talk on “Russell Ackoff, abridged“.  Having satisfied a personal goal to create a single double-sided page of  highlights, I’ll be relying on two maps as visual aids.

Following a style prescribed by the master himself — not just examining the system, but also its environment — the professional timeline of Russell Ackoff includes his relationships with the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations (that included Fred Emery and Eric Trist), as well as C.Read more (in a new tab)

In Toronto — partially in response to members of the International Society for the Systems Sciences looking for sustainable alternatives to the pattern of annual meetings outside of North America every other year — we’ve started a Systems Sciences Meetup group.  There’s a rich history of people and events in the systems sciences in Toronto, and we’ve been remiss in keeping the momentum going.

The purpose of these meetups is to enable conversations amongst like-minded people interested in (continuing to) climb the learning curve on (the) systems science(s).  Having a keynote speaker provides a centre around which the conversations can coalesce.  In November 2009, Allenna Leonard led the first meetup with a talk on “What are the Systems Sciences”.  Given the holiday season, we deferred the next meeting to January.

With the announcement of a Memorial Celebration for Russell Ackoff in Philadelphia in February, it seemed natural to prepare a session for those unfamiliar with his life and work.  Thus, for the January 6 Systems Sciences Meetup, I’ll be leading a talk on “Russell Ackoff, abridged“.  Having satisfied a personal goal to create a single double-sided page of  highlights, I’ll be relying on two maps as visual aids.

Following a style prescribed by the master himself — not just examining the system, but also its environment — the professional timeline of Russell Ackoff includes his relationships with the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations (that included Fred Emery and Eric Trist), as well as C.Read more (in a new tab)

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    • 1969, 1981 Emery, System Thinking: Selected Readings
      Social Systems Science graduate students in 1970s-1980s with #RussellAckoff, #EricTrist + #HasanOzbehkhan at U. Pennsylvania Wharton School were assigned the Penguin paperback #SystemsThinking reader edited by #FredEEmery, with updated editions evolving contents.
    • 1968 Buckley, “Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist: A Sourcebook”
      Resurfacing 1968 Buckley, “Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist: A Sourcebook” for interests in #SystemsThinking #SocioCybernetics #GeneralSystemsTheory #OrganizationScience . Republication in 2017 hardcopy may be more complete.
    • Wholism, reductionism (Francois, 2004)
      Proponents of #SystemsThinking often espouse holism to counter over-emphasis on reductionism. Reading some definitions from an encyclopedia positions one in the context of the other (François 2004).
    • It matters (word use)
      Saying “it doesn’t matter” or “it matters” is a common expression in everyday English. For scholarly work, I want to “keep using that word“, while ensuring it means what I want it to mean. The Oxford English Dictionary (third edition, March 2001) has three entries for “matter”. The first two entries for a noun. The […]
    • Systemic Change, Systematic Change, Systems Change (Reynolds, 2011)
      It's been challenging to find sources that specifically define two-word phrases -- i.e. "systemic change", "systematic change", "systems change" -- as opposed to loosely inferring reductively from one-word definitions in recombination. MartinReynolds @OpenUniversity clarifies uses of the phrases, with a critical eye into motives for choosing a specific label, as well as associated risks and […]
    • Environmental c.f. ecological (Francois, 2004; Allen, Giampietro Little 2003)
      The term "environmental" can be mixed up with "ecological", when the meanings are different. We can look at the encyclopedia definitions (François 2004), and then compare the two in terms of applied science (i.e. engineering with (#TimothyFHAllen @MarioGiampietro and #AmandaMLittle, 2003).
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