2008/07/17 13:30 Special Integration Group on Systems Applications in Business and Industry, ISSS Madison 2008

ISSS Madison 2008, 52nd Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

This digest was created in real-time duringthe meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted on the ISSS web site by David Ing.

Session chaired by David Ing

Three presenters

  • Johnnie Pourdehnad
  • Takefumi Nakamura and Kyoichi Kijima
  • Shankar Sankaran

Johnnie Pourdehnad

Trying to synthesize across four things:

1. Business model

  • With Ackoff, were working at GM on business models with Peter Drucker and Adrian Slywotsky
  • Value migration, creating and capture value
  • At Ackoff Center, took companies cited by Slywotsky, were looking into their processes

2. Open innovation

  • Henry Chesbrough

3. Design thinking

  • Have been applying Ackoff's idealized design
  • Lately, it's like a new discovery
  • Not legitimate until HBR published on design thinking in their June issue
  • When you put people into design thinking, they think about solutions, rather than problems
  • The designerly ways of knowing, Nigel Cross

4. Enterprise 2.0

  • Using social software for collaboration
  • Business people first asked about control issues
  • In Internet, domain of emergence

Why are companies not combining the four?

In the application of idealized, key role by facilitators

  • Need divergent thinking, and then convergent thinking
  • Thinking of getting thousands involved
  • Success in learning spaces



Design thinking: if more complex, have to focus more on process, because can't evaluate the outcome.  

  • Not rehashing
  • Difference from CSCW

Who has mandate to design

Blog people and wiki people

Innovation jams

Design of inquiring systems:  hard to get inductive consensual and sweep in at the same time

Management needs to learn about a different attitude

Coaching:  gap

  • Creating a dialogue space and container to support design thinking
  • Need trust, some balance between control and freedom

Facilitating, if in one modality, will get stuck

  • Haven't dealt with relational dynamics, group psychology

Who are you writing for?  Different answers for different people

  • No absolute models, corporate culture has to be respected

Takefumi Nakamura and Kyoichi Kijima

How can organizations learn to change mental models?

  • Systems safety
  • Used systems thinking in IT engineering
  • Two guiding ideas
  • 1. Jackson system of systems
  • 2. Categorizing 


  • Nature of the participant:  unitary, plural, coercive
  • Nature of the system: simple or complex

Classifying systems failure into three categories:

  • 1. Failure of deviance from standard, e.g. ISO, captures well
  • 2. Failure of communicaiton or interface:  misjunction
  • 3. Failure of evolution: failure of foresight

Looking at ISO, etc., they're all restricted in unitary areas, no mechanisms to get out

  • Try to apply dynamic model in the plural domain
  • Jackson says dynamic in unitary domain, but introduce systems boundary

3 archetypes: 

  • 1. Complacency
  • 2.
  • 3. Fix the failure

Learning in IT area, 3 solution archetypes

  • Absolute versus than organizational measures
  • Disjunction in communicating multiple stakeholders:  Japanese society is highly reliable, so tacit communication may cause system failures, should be more explicit
  • Enlarge the system boundary as much as possible

Systems dynamics models are powerful, because can see to change organizational mental model


Study of computer system failures

Failure of evolution?  Beyond abstraction, know by building system

NASA Challenger disaster

Learning before, learning during, learning after

Structural problem:  most organizations don't value failure

  • Nature does accept failureu

There are learning and adaptive systems, e.g. aviation

  • Weick:  low probability, high impact
  • After action reports

Federal departments:  all under business pressures, except defense, which has contingencies, but they have excess funding

Failure in U.S. get a second chance, in Austria, they're out

Shankar Sankaran

Soft systems thinking embedded in action research

  • Action, and conduct research (critical reflection)
  • If action takes place, more informed action

Manage used different methods

SSM: Developed through action research, by Peter Checkland, as the hard systems approach is unsuitable for ill-structured problems

  • Original a 7-step model
  • Later included cultural analysis and systems analysis
  • Practitioners use it, to become a process:  mode 2 way of knowing

Two case studies in the papaer

Diagnostic models for military

  • Use SSM, dialectic (slightly different from 7 steps), differentiating between immersion: action, critical reflection
  • Software developer drove the vehicle

Hospital IT system

  • Psychotherapist did research
  • Thought would use SSM, but found action research used instead with SSM as a background

Connection between SSM and action research

  • Checkland says if you do action research without a declared model, may not be rigourous

Problem:  continuously learning, when you doctoral research, have a deadline, when to close?

  • Have we learned enough about the system to close the study?


Drive to have a quantitative and qualitative?

Realiability of qualitative

Balanced scorecard is an action research approach


Tacit assumptions on stability and predictability

West:  ask the same question twice and get the same answer

  • East: why ask the same question twice, it's rude

360-degree view of reliability

Ethics of research

Modeling about probabilities; design is about solutions and contingencies

Rosen: modeling relation

Modeling complexity? Can't model it

KISS versus Keep It Complex, Smart