The human ecology is made up of nested, networked service systems (Spohrer, Piciocchi, Bassano 2012).
The evolution of service systems can be viewed as a special case of meaning-creation in sociotechnical systems evolution (Spohrer & Maglio 2008); specifically…
“IV. Research Agenda A central problem in service science is likely to be related to understanding service system evolution. After all, service innovation—our ultimate goal—creates changes to a service system, which is made up of clients and providers co-producing value, and which has direct impact on the evolution of the system. One measure of value is as a measure of the differential between supply and demand (low supply plus high demand equals potential for high value). Specialization is one of the key mechanisms for creating value. If two entities have different abilities for achieving a goal (supply diversity), then under certain conditions they can specialize on what they do best, and create an overall increase in productivity that leads to increased profits that are then invested in new goals (demand diversity). From the provider perspective, specialization can lead to high talent, high technology, or superior environment-enabled performances for creating value. Specialization leads to the need for trusting others and coordinating activity across potentially vast networks (with or without central control). As a result, service system evolution is a special case of meaning-creation in sociotechnical system evolution in which value is one locus of meaning and design (Trist, 1981; Engelbart 1963; Simon, 1996).”
Service systems (from people to businesses to nations) can be approximated as physical-symbol-systems because human’s are a symbolic species in which our brains and language co-evolved, and businesses and nations use contracts and written law to govern their interactions.
Therefore, the “process of valuing” that service systems engage in when they create, offer, and negotiate value propositions with each other can be viewed as a type of sensemaking or process of giving meaning to experience.
Sensemaking is about co-creating meaning. Service science is about co-creating value, and ultimately co-elevating capabilities along the way.
Finding “worthy objectives” becomes harder and harder as capabilities increase. Should we “colonize Mars” or “end hunger” or “build starships” – or what?
People try to stay in flow (optimal experience) by balancing routine and challenge; too much routine leads to boredom, and too much challenge leads to anxiety.
Parents try to keep their “learners/children” in the zone of proximal development.
Businesses try to remain ambidextrous organizations that can balance exploitation (profitable routine) and exploration (innovation options), which is a type of organizational learning.
Some even see all complex learning systems as balancing on the edge of order and chaos.
In short, because people use symbols (language) to negotiate meaning (including worthy shared objectives) and to negotiate value-cocreation opportunities, service system evolution is shaped by symbols and the meaning we give them.
Knowledge (symbols in people) has the potential to create value through service – the application of knowledge for the benefit of others. Knowledge that has the potential to create value, but remains under-utilized or un-utilized is a type of waste. Knowledge that is only slowly used to create value, instead of being rapidly put to work to create value is another type of waste. Service science studies past, present, and possible future service systems, and the speed at which they can create new knowledge (meaning, co-elevation) and rapidly apply that new knowledge to co-create value.
Trist on the evolution of socio-technical systems