"Rethinking Systems Thinking: Learning and Coevolving with the World" [position description]
- President (2011-2012), International Society for the Systems Sciences;
- Itinerant scholar, Aalto University, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management; and
- Marketing Scientist, IBM
- David Ing
"Is there a 'Peak Oil' effect on 'Service Management', 'Systems Science', and 'Service Science' Research?" [position description]
- Director of the Oxford Scenarios Programme at Oxford University, Fellow in Strategy at the Saїd Business School and Green-Templeton College, and Senior Research Fellow in Futures at the Martin School.
- Chair of the World Economic Forum Strategic Foresight Global Agenda Council 2008-2010; Visiting Professor of Scenarios and Corporate Planning at Shell International 2000-2003; Professor of management in HEC-Paris until 2009; and
- Co-founder, Normann Partners, in 2003.
- Rafael Ramirez
Kyoichi (Jim) Kijima
- Professor of Decision Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology
- Past president, International Society for the Systems Sciences, 2006-2007
- Vice president, International Federation for Systems Research, 2010-2012
- Academician, International Academy of Cybernetics and Systems Sciences
- Professor of Systems Thinking and Director of the Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, UK
- Senior Science Leader, Environmental Science & Research, New Zealand (2003-2010)
- Adjunct Professor, University of Canterbury (2007-2010), Victoria University of Wellington (2004-2010), University of Queensland (2003-2010)
"Service Science: Reframing The Skeleton" [position description]
- Director, IBM Global University Programs;
- Director, Almaden Services Research, IBM Research 2003-2009; Chief Technology Officer, IBM Venture Capital Relations 2000-2008; and
- Distinguished Scientist in Learning Research, Apple Computer 1989-1998
- Jim Spohrer
"Resilience, Ecological Regime Shifts and Social-Ecological Transformation" [position description]
- Professor of Environmental Sciences, and theme leader on Regime shifts and implications on social ecological systems, Stockholm Resilience Alliance, Stockholm University, Sweden;
- Canada Research Chair, Department of Geography and the McGill School of the Environment at McGill University in Canada 2003-2008; and
- Board member of the Resilience Alliance; subject editor for Ecology and Society, and a coordinating lead author for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
- Garry Peterson
- Chairman and Founder, Market Insight Corporation
- Commissioner, California Citizen Redistricting Commission
- Author, The Decision Loom: A Design for Interactive Decision-Making in Organizations 2011; Meeting of the Minds: Creating the Market-Based Enterprise 1995
- General Manager of Corporate Strategy, General Motors Corporation 1985-2003; Director Market Intelligence, Eastman Kodak 1980-1985; Director, U. S. Census Bureau 1973-1976
- Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences, Director of Institute for Advanced Systems Studies, and Chair of the Biological Sciences Department (1997-2001), California State Polytechnic University;
- Past president, International Society for the Systems Sciences (1990-1991), and VP and Managing Director (1981-1987);
- Former member of the board, International Federation for Systems Research (1981-1987)
"Insights into Service Coming from Biology" [position description]
Timothy F. H. Allen
- Professor Emeritus of Botany and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison; and
- Past president, International Society for the Systems Sciences, 2008-2009
- Timothy F. H. Allen
"A Second Expansion of Science" [position description]
- Professor in the Department of Management, and Director of the Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning, School of Business, George Washington University;
- Past president, American Society for Cybernetics, 1980-1982; and
- Academician, International Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences.
- Stuart Umpleby
- Director of Undergraduate Programmes, and Senior Lecturer, Management Systems at Hull University Business School
- VP of Administration, ISSS; President (2010-2011)
- Organizational Systems Faculty, Saybrook University
- Co-founder, Syntony Quest
- Co-chair, ISSS Special Integration Group on Evolutionary Development
- Sir Geoffrey Vickers award honoree (2000)
"On New Institutions for Networked Innovation" [position description]
- Researcher and Project Manager , INSCO Project (Innovation in Sourcing Competencies), Business Innovation Technology research unit, Aalto University, Finland;
- Chairman of the board at Linna BikeShop LtD; CEO & Entrepreneur at QIS oy; and
- Senior Manager, Nokia 2002-2008
- Minna Takala
"R-Theory: Who, What, and Why" [position description]
- Senior Research Scientist, Wessman Research Group, Cooperative Institute for Research into Environmental Science, University of Colorado at Boulder;
- Fulbright Research Fellow, 2009; and
- Ecoinformatics researcher, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1978-2005.
- John Kineman
- Professor, Systems Design and Complexity Management University, Adelaide Business School, Australia
- Program leader, Living Laboratory for Sustainability, Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam
- VP for Communications and Systems Education, International Society for the Systems Sciences
- Foundation member, International Academy for Cybernetics and Systems Sciences
- Founder, Icanology LLC. Producer, MathGirl games and SkillStory.com
- Author, Men Are Easy
- Sir Geoffrey Vickers award honoree (2001)
Plenary speaker: Alexander Laszlo
"Increasing the Range and Reach of the Systems Sciences: A Call to Reinvigorate the Systems Movement" [abstract]
- President (2012-2013), International Society for the Systems Sciences;
- Professor of Systems Science & Evolutionary Development;
- Co-founder and President of Syntony Quest; and
- Executive Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study of the Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University
- Alexander Laszlo
Positions -- Monday
Plenary Position M1: Rethinking Systems Thinking: Learning and Coevolving with the World
Speaker: David Ing
Much of systems thinking, as commonly espoused today, was developed by a generation in the context of the 1960s to 1980s. Almost all of the luminaries of that era have passed on. In the 2010s, has system thinking changed with the world in which it is to be applied? Is systems thinking learning and coevolving with the world? Some contemporary systems thinkers continue to push the frontiers of theory, methods and practice. Others situationally increment the traditions of their preferred gurus, where approaches proven successful in prior experiences are replicated for new circumstances. Founded on interactions with a variety of systems communities over the past 15 years, three ways to rethink systems thinking are proposed:
- Reorient systems thinking beyond “parts and wholes” towards “learning and coevolving”.
- Learn where the service economy and the anthropocene are new, anticipating deutero and trito levels.
- Coevolve the episteme, techne and phronesis across systems thinking, for both the living and non-living.
These proposed ways are neither exhaustive nor sufficient. The declaration that systems thinking should be rethought may itself be controversial. If, however, systems thinking is to be authentic, the theory, methods and practices with which we engage a changing world may require attention.
Plenary Position M2: Is there a 'Peak Oil' effect on 'Service Management', 'Systems Science', and 'Service Science' Research?
Speaker: Rafael Ramirez (paper coauthored with Mikael Paltschik)
The paper reviews the recent decades of activity in the fields of 'service management', 'systems science', and 'service science' and examines reasons why reported decreases / flattening out in key parts of these research activities might have occurred.
The following two aspects are explored: these fields, alone and together, have tended to over-promise and under-deliver; and the overall direction of conceptual development engages real world dynamic complexities in a less usable way than many expected.
Possible explanations for these considerations have been the purported scientific bases of such efforts, partly manifested as difficulties in establishing theoretical propositions as generally applicable and replicable. Schools and departments established in different relevant sub-disciplines have sprung up, and have tended to disappear when their founders move on. At the same time, important issues that these intellectual efforts might have been thought to address well have in fact not been well addressed by them. Specifically, notions of value, values, and value creation have been narrowly explored.
The paper suggests that an alternative direction of travel might be more productive: one more oriented towards the arts and humanities and less towards approximating scientific pursuits.
Positions -- Tuesday
Plenary Position T1: Service Science: Reframing The Skeleton
Speaker: Jim Spohrer (paper coauthored with Alessio Giususa, Haluk Demirkan and David Ing)
This talk summarizes service science progress and directions, in the context of Boulding (1956).
In a short essay entitled “General Systems Theory - The Skeleton of Science," Boulding motivated the importance of general systems theory to increase mutually beneficial communications between specialized scientific disciplines.
Service science is an emerging transdiscipline (whole) that borrows from many existing academic disciplines (parts) without replacing any of them, and reframes their essential interconnectedness.
For example, universities as institutions provide many service offerings to diverse stakeholders, including teaching (knowledge transfer) and credentials (knowledge signals) impacting students, research (knowledge creation) impacting industry and society, and regional economic development (applying knowledge to create value) impacting regional governments and enterprises and individual quality-of-life.
In the context of an accelerating global knowledge economy and from a service science perspective, universities can be seen to be keystone institutions that can evolve rapidly in their dominant role as globally interconnected, regionally essential value-cocreation institutions.
Plenary Position T2: Resilience, Ecological Regime Shifts and Social-Ecological Transformation
Speaker: Garry Peterson
We are now living in the Anthropocene – a new geological era in which the earth’s landscape, ecosystems, and processes are strongly shaped by human action. Now it becomes more useful to view ecosystems and indeed the earth as integrated social-ecological systems. The interaction of social and ecological dynamics can produce unwanted or desired reorganizations of ecosystem services, but there is currently little understanding of the general patterns in the causes or consequences of these social‑ecological regime shifts.
At the Stockholm Resilience Centre my colleagues and I have developing a database of social‑ecological regime shifts (www.regimeshifts.org). We have refined and extended the regime shift framework to a variety of large, abrupt, persistent social‑ecological that have not traditionally been described as regime shifts, for example, conversion of forest to cropland, or transformations in ecosystem management practices.
In this talk I will introduce the concept of social-ecological resilience and how we have used it to define social-ecological regime shifts. I will outline several of these shifts and then discuss preliminary results of our comparative analyses. These patterns include which drivers dominate these shifts, which internal feedbacks provide resilience, and where are opportunities for local or regional actors to enhance the resilience of a regime, or alternatively destabilize and reduce the resilience of undesired regimes. Finally, I will relate this work to work on purposefully social-ecological transformation towards a more sustainable future.
Keywords: resilience, regime shift, social-ecological system, feedbacks, network analysis, database, system comparison
Positions -- Wednesday
Plenary Position W1: Insights into Service Coming from Biology
Speaker: Timothy F.H. Allen (paper coauthored with Duncan Shaw and Peter C. Allen)
The social sciences and business have a preferred presentation of complexity as charts and categories, encouraging contrasts not comparisons. In biology the multiple levels invoked in complexity are treated in a more unified way through comparison. Dualities are expected wherein different levels of analysis can flip examples between types. Thus manufacturing and service can both apply to almost any facet of business. Even heavy industrial manufacture of ingots is a service to industries that make things out of iron. Our general findings are:
- The difference between manufacture and service pivots on the distinction between high gain rate-dependence for manufacture as opposed to low gain rate-independence for service efficiency. High gain takes in fuel or parts and uses them directly. Low gain takes in low quality material and improves it. Service is low gain, while manufacturing is relatively high gain.
- Manufacturing is generally easier to outsource, because the output can be moved later.
- Service generally is smaller than its manufacturing counterpart. The size difference alone takes service out of the realm of manufacturing.
- Manufacturing creates something while service changes something.
- Manufacturing uses a process to make a structure that is a good to be sold. Service generally works on some extant structure or situation: e.g. a car or a patient.
- Whether a product is manufactured item or a service often turns on who is identified as the customer and how they use the product.
- A century ago industry emerged with a high gain posture. Now the internet and the information age press manufactures into low gain service.
- The move to low gain can be very lucrative if the clients are the mass at the bottom of the pyramid. There is more profit in service because of low production cost and big markets.
- Service is like mutualism in biology. It is about cooperation. But the origin of mutualistic relationships is often destructive and predatory. It takes time to work out the accommodation. Service evolves.
- “Ecosystem services” is a misnomer. It is turned backwards. Human service providers accommodate to the customer in positive terms; the lack of sentience in ecosystems means through depletion they resist offering service. Principles of Supply-side Sustainability show that human exploitation of ecosystems is only stable so long as the ecosystem is itself serviced by its “clients.”
Plenary Position W2: A Second Expansion of Science
Speaker: Stuart Umpleby
In the years after World War II the field of cybernetics and several variations of systems science were created. These fields added several dimensions to scientific investigations: from linear to circular causality, from direction to self-organization, from reductionism to holism, from environment free to environment full investigations, and from not including the observer to including the observer. Hence the systems sciences expanded the subjects of scientific investigations on several dimensions. These dimensions, identified by Eric Dent, define the systems sciences relative to earlier disciplines. They also explain why systems science has had difficulty coming together as a unified field, since different groups within systems science have emphasized different combinations of dimensions.
Whereas physics provides a theory of matter and energy relationships, the goal of cybernetics was to create a common language of control and communication, of information and regulation, to aid research among social scientists, those working on information machines, and those working in the fields of design. Currently, interest in reflexivity is creating another expansion of science which emphasizes that theories in the social sciences have an effect on the phenomena being studied. As a result it is necessary to create a “second order science” which describes the effects of first order theories (and second order theories as well) on the phenomena of interest.
Positions -- Thursday
Plenary Position R1: New Institutions for Innovation -- Changing Practices for Development
Speaker: Minna Takala
This presentation will share views and insights on systemic innovation and examples on new institutions for innovation that have been emerging across the world. New institutions and practices enable creativity and adaptive approaches for development, addressing both social and economic issues. These institutions include development communities, living labs, mobile application development labs, a global Hub network, a global FabLab network and crowdsourcing practices. While other organizations seek new sources for innovation in collaboration with these institutions their own practices need to change as well. New approaches are needed especially for mutually value-added and respectful collaboration between firms and new emerging institutions.
By revisiting Kenneth Boulding's model for change and appreciative systems approach by Sir Geoffrey Vickers we aim at contributing to a better understanding of the linkages between different organizations and development.
The presentation is based on research conducted in INSCO -project – Innovation in Sourcing Competencies funded by TEKES, Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. New institutions include Design Factory and Demola from Finland, Rlabs – ReConstructed Living Labs from South Africa and TANZICT from Tanzania.
Plenary Position R2: R-Theory: Who, What, and Why
Speaker: John Kineman
R-theory is a synthesis of Robert Rosen’s work in Relational Biology and complexity based on integration of two of his theory tracks: Modeling relations and entailment mappings (in Category Theory). R-theory realizes Rosen’s vision of a new foundation for all of science. By tenaciously holding fast to Rosen’s two forms of logic we can arrive at a profoundly new understanding of natural systems based on a meta-model of deep causality in biological and especially ecological systems.
The central concept in this claim is ‘relation’; but relation in a form that has been anathema to both science and religion since these two enterprises parted ways. R-theory claims that relations are not directly between events in the world, but between events and their contexts, from which the measurable world originates: A true relation is between the inner and the outer, the part and the whole, the local and the non-local, or the actualized and the potentialized. This concept is most familiar to us in ecology, and perhaps the most surprising discovery was that ecological relations indicate a deeper general complexity embedded in all nature.
Relational Science, which R-theory attempts to capture, is thus about holism in nature represented in a fundamental or ‘atomistic’ unit; the modeling relation itself. That basic unit of reality is described as a quasi-closed four-cause ‘holon’, by which every element of nature models itself and other systems. R-theory suggests a new, more causally accurate description of nature that entails it with its origins. At the most fundamental level, R-theory reveals a fractal, self-similar description of reality that is reflected in cellular biology, medicine, ecology, evolution, cosmology, quantum physics, and consciousness; suggesting that nature creates itself within infinite contexts. Phenomena opened for exploration in the fields of consciousness may be the most staggering discoveries lying ahead.
R-theory provides a mathematically rigorous methodology that meets epistemological criteria for science and survives the most rigorous tests. It is, however, far from proven or even developed to a level that can have significant impacts in today’s established modes of science. Precisely because it is so profoundly fundamental, it may be tremendously difficult to introduce because it begins from new principles. Present enthusiasm aside, its proper introduction and demonstration requires essentially re-writing many of the laws of nature in more relational terms; not to replace currently adequate theories, but to find their common root and show that root is relational. The challenge is first to demonstrate that it can do as well as current theories, and then the road may be open to greater possibilities than imagined.
Incoming Presidential Address -- Friday
Speaker: Alexander Laszlo
As our species finally breaches the carrying capacity of the planet we call home, we are faced with the perennial challenge: evolve or die. But now the challenge is both global and immediate. We have explored and exhausted the identity of Homo Sapiens sapiens. We must move on, evolve beyond the strategically wise, the rationally refined, the intellectually erudite and the technologically talented.
Our patterns of being and becoming now need to match the patterns and processes of ecosystemic meta-stability found in nature and the cosmos at large. But for this, we must abandon our ego-centric conceptions of self. We must no longer look out at the world through the eyes of exclusively individual interests. And above all, we must be ready to repudiate our gladiatorial existence and learn what it means to be a communal being. To commune with ourselves, with each other, with nature, with past and future possibilities.
This is no mere poetic flight of fancy. It is the survival imperative of our times. Beyond re-conceptualizing ourselves in this way, the true challenge lies in post-conceptualizing the relational states of emergence that continually manifest the patterns of being and becoming that create conditions conducive to life. We cannot do this alone.
Homo Sapiens sapiens is a species bound for extinction. This is cause for celebration. We must become Homo Sapiens cosmicus – capable of manifesting both our mundane individuality and our sacred connectivity as part and whole at one and the same time.
What are the forms of perception that propitiate such engagement? Can systems thinking and holistic being provide platforms upon which to curate the emergence of a new species identity? What are the patterns and processes currently alive in our world that intimate the possibility of co-creating a global eco-civilization? And how, and in what ways, must consciousness transform to propitiate such an evolutionary paradigm shift?
These are some of the challenges posited by this paper in the hope that the Systems Movement in general, and the ISSS in particular, will take them up over the coming year and into the future.