With a visit of one week at IBM Research Almaden with @rarar and @jimspohrer , I was invited to give a talk. As an IBM alumnus who was active in pattern language community from the mid-1990s, this was an occasion to surface some history of science about activities inside the company that is otherwise opaque. This history shapes my aspirations and predispositions towards continuing the development of pattern language in new domains.
3. 2014 → … : Wicked Messes→Service Systems Thinking
Here’s the abstract sent in advance of my arrival:
Pattern language has its origins from architects of built physical environments. The approach was cross-appropriated into software development methods at the rise of object-oriented design, and was influential in the emerging styles with agile practices. The idea has been extended into social change. Are the philosophical foundations from the 1960s-1970s appropriate for the 21st century era of service science, and innovations in augmented intelligence? Read more...(643 words, 1 image, estimated 2:34 mins reading time)
An invitation as a keynote presenter at the 2018 International Conference on Smart Cities and Urban Design (SCUD) was initiated on a recommendation by Susu Nousala to the program chair WU Jing. Blending the conference theme with my recent doctoral research, I proposed the topic “Innovation Learning for Sustainability: What’s smarter for urban systems”? For a 30-minute slot, the agenda was covered in three sections:
1. Smarter Systems
2. Sustainability + Service Systems Science
3. Innovation Learning
The first section derived from the history of smarter cities and the cognitive era from IBM, blended with the co-respondence of Tim Ingold. The second section considered sustainability from an ecological anthropology approach, then service systems and commitments. The third section drew in the normative framework from Open Innovation Learning.
For streaming, the video is accessible on Youtube.
For offline devices, downloadable audio is available, including a digitally boosted volume version.
5. Industrial value chain c.f. Co-producing offering
While the lecture slides were the same for two class sections spaced 2 days apart, the verbal content varies as spontaneous flow. On both days, agenda point 4 (Teleology c.f. Teleonomy) was cut short to jump to a few ideas in point 5. (On the second day, a question from a student led back to point 4). Read more...(664 words, 1 image, estimated 2:39 mins reading time)
The term proactive, in comparison to reactive, only dates back to 1964.  #AbrahamZaleznik, a professor of organizational psychodynamics and practicising psychoanalyst, cited Chester Barnard in the distinction for managers performing in nonexecutive and executive functions. Building on Sigmund Freud’s later development of energy cathexes, with emotional energy towards (i) ideas, (ii) persons, or a (iii) fusion of the two, the predisposition of a manager influences priorities. These may (or may not) be altered through (executive) education.
A central objective of … training efforts [within and outside of universities] is to modify behavior, usually interpersonal, according to some set of norms that relate to organizational effectiveness or improved individual and group performance.
The purpose of this paper is to raise for inquiry the adequacy of existing notions of what interpersonal competence is, how it relates to the manager’s job, and the best means for helping managers achieve this competence. [Zaleznik (1964) p. 156]
Executive functions ensure the organization operates as a cooperative system through specialized authority; nonexecutive functions include technical activities of the organization that might be carried out by others. Read more...(2378 words, 1 image, estimated 9:31 mins reading time)
Fit the people around an organization; or an organization around the people? Working backwards, say @MitroffCrisis + #HaroldLinstone, from current concrete choices to uncertain futures, surfaces strategic assumptions in a collective decision, better than starting with an abstract scorecard to rank candidates. The Unbounded Mind is an easier-reading follow-on to The Design of Inquiry Systems by C. West Churchman.
This scorecard metaphor shows up in the second of five ways of knowing (i.e. inquiring systems)
Chapter 3 is “The World as a Formula: The Second Way of Knowing”. A case study commonly used in business school education is described.
To illustrate the use and meaning of the Analytic-Deductive IS in a social realm, we’ll apply it to a situation that on the surface at least is as “simple” as the question that occupied us in the last chapter. There is a somewhat dated yet classic case in the Harvard Business Review that provides a perfect depiction of the Analytic-Deductive IS.  Four men are running for the presidency of a fictitious life insurance company, Zenith Life. Background information on their strengths and weaknesses, families, career history, skills, and so on, is given for all four, although we do not receive the same information for each of them. Thus, we know more about one candidate in one category than we do about another. Also, the history and current nature of Zenith Life itself, its prospects and problems, its opportunities as well as threats, are described. The central question of the case is, “Which of the four candidates is best qualified to head Zenith Life, given both its past history and its current condition?” [pp. 41-42]
 Abraham T. Collier, “Decision at Zenith Life,” Harvard Business Review, January-February 1962, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 139-157
In all the years that we have given this seemingly “simple case” to scores of students and executives, the typical response has remained remarkably the same. Almost every student and executive — whether they worked individually on the case or in small groups — built a single, simple model that selects one and only one of the candidates as best for Zenith Life. The models are virtually the embodiment of Analytic-Deductive reasoning whether the students and executives were aware of this or not; in most cases, they were not.
The models essentially work as follows. A set of attributes that are characteristic of leadership is determined or specified: for instance, how charismatic each of the candidates is; their capacity to inspire others; the ability to formulate a vision of what Zenith Life needs to be in the coming decade; to present one’s ideas in a direct and persuasive manner so that others will want to join on; a clear sense of ethics and the ability to make decisions that are ethical and moral; their past job performance — job history, personality, and so on. Other variables such as”family support” were also included. Each candidate is then scaled on each attribute to the degree that the individual either embodies or possesses it. Typically, a score of “1” represents the absence of a particular attribute or poor performance on it, whereas “10” indicates the complete possession of an attribute or high performance. On more sophisticated models, the attributes are weighted differently so that, for example, the category “ethics” might be rated three times more important than one’s score in the area of “past job performance.” The “best candidate” to run Zenith Life is then selected on the basis of who has the highest score on all the attributes and their weightings. [p. 42]
So, the scorecard would look something like this: Read more...(2062 words, 1 image, estimated 8:15 mins reading time)
Should we do, or not-do? Russell Ackoff, over many years, wrote about (negative) potential consequences:
There are two possible types of decision-making mistakes, which are not equally easy to identify.
(1) Errors of commission: doing something that should not have been done.
(2) Errors of omission: not doing something that should have been done.
For example, acquiring a company that reduces a corporation’s overall performance is an error of commission, as is coming out with a product that fails to break even. Failure to acquire a company that could have been acquired and that would have increased the value of the corporation or failure to introduce a product that would have been very profitable is an error of omission [Ackoff 1994, pp. 3-4].
Ackoff has always been great with turns of phrases such as these. Some deeper reading evokes three ideas that may be worth further exploration:
1. Doing or not-doing may or may not invoke learning.
2. Doing or not-doing invokes implicit orientations on time.
3. Doing or not-doing raises question of (i) changes via systems of willful action, and/or (ii) changes via systems of non-intrusive action.
These three ideas, explored in sections below, lead us from the management of human affairs, beyond questions of science, and into question of philosophy.
For those interested in the history of philosophy and science, the three ideas above are followed by an extra section:
Appendix. Doing or not-doing in management can be placed philosophically in American pragmatism.
1. Doing or not-doing may or may not invoke learning
One way of framing doing and not-doing is around decision-making mistakes. In 1994, Ackoff was advocating strongly for organizational learning. He criticized executives who suppress the surfacing of prior errors that might preclude the recurrence of mistakes. Read more...(4736 words, 2 images, estimated 18:57 mins reading time)
The 2019-2020 fires in Australia are associated with a slow history of human activity. > Three hours north, in Sydney, the air quality was worse than in Jakarta. [....] > There is no doubt that the fires are growing more ferocious. Even without the changing climate, it would be inevitable; 250 years of land mismanagement […]
> ... a fascinating study by Javier Miranda, principal economist at the U.S. Census Bureau; Benjamin Jones, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; and Pierre Azoulay, professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. They took a detailed look at the demographics […]
A week of deepening *democratic recession* says @FareedZakaria https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/25/us/fareed-democracy-decaying-worldwide/index.html . Citing term by #LarryDiamond "Facing Up to the Democratic Recession" | Jan. 2015 | J Democracy at https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/articles/facing-up-to-the-democratic-recession/
The scientific publication is:"Sleep fragmentation, microglial aging, and cognitive impairment in adults with and without Alzheimer’s dementia" | Science Advances | Dec. 2019 at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/12/eaax7331 doi:10.1126/sciadv.aax7331
As a mature adult, is a bad cycle of sleeping poorly impacting your cognitive function?> Dr. Lim, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Toronto ... suggest[s] microglia play a role in the link between poor sleep and cognitive impairment and dementia. Microglia normally help fight infections and clear debris from the brain. […]
Does “the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago and the second best time is now” date back further than 1988? It is time to look long and hard at the value of the urban forest and create the broad-based efforts — in research, funding and citizen participation — needed to improve […]
Workshop led by @RohanAlexander and @prof_lyons at #CASCONxEvoke on "Barriers to Data Science Adoption: Why Existing Frameworks Aren't Working". For discussion purposes the challenges are grouped within three themes: regulatory; investment; and workforce.
“You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts” by #DanielPatrickMoynihan is predated on @Freakonomics by #BernardMBaruch 1950 “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts”. Source: “There Are Opinions, And Then There Are Facts” | Fred Shapiro […]
Satire can be an antidote, says Prof. #PaulBabbitt @muleriders , to #bullshit (c.f. rhetoric; hypocrisy; crocodile tears; propaganda; intellectual dishonesty; politeness, etiquette and civility; commonsense and conventional wisdom; symbolic votes; platitudes and valence issues).
If we don’t first know “what is system is”, how do we approach an intervention? #MichaelCJackson OBE and Dr. #LuisGSambo appreciate the difference between “systems thinking” (plural) and “system dynamics” (singular), and suggest expanding theory with Critical #SystemThinking in Health Systems Research. An ignorance of history is, if anything, even more pronounced among those authors […]
Social ecology and environmental psychology described @dstokols @Social_Ecology , interviewed by @katiepatrick . References #WilliamsJames on attention. Book on Social Ecology in the Digital Age released in 2018.Read more ›
Concerns on #personaldata should be reframed as interpersonal, says @sheldrake , less the nodes and more the edge connections. “I want to take back control” superficial, @hartzog says control doesn’t scale. Agency is about negotiation in the world, more rhizomatic…Read more ›
Doing science should be wayfinding (pathfinding), says #TimIngold , gaining grounding in the art of paying attention, towards research as the pursuit of truth. Truth is more than objective facts, where science and art are embraced with materials, so that we can see the quality inside the natural world as it forms, rather than as […]
We should be more vigourous, says @MazzucatoM , in debating differences between value extraction and value creation, and between profits and rents. Lecture at Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford U., January 2019Read more ›
Most destructive analogy last 100 years @DavidGelernter @econtalker : Post-Turing thinkers decided that brains were organic computers, that computation was a perfect model of what minds do ... and that mind relates to brain as software relates to computer Read more ›
Before judging democratic systems over authoritarian, examine the functioning of governments through its diplomats, where plutocracy has an alternative in meritocracy, says @mahbubani_k @longnow @asiasocietysfx. [1:19:30] … when people compare the American government with the Chinese government, they say: “This…Read more ›