Tuesday, November 3, 2009


CASCON is one of my favourite annual events. I've been to every one! There are so many smart people here to interact with and learn from. The workshops are fantastic! Monday, I attended the Development Intelligence workshop which is of great interest to me, particularly how the connections among people in development projects can help improve productivity and work for software developers.

I'm impressed with the Twitter and Facebook discussion about CASCON. I just found out via Twitter that the high school where my sister teaches is sending a team to the High School Programming Contest at CASCON! I recommend following CASon Twitter.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

First Social Event for KLAAG!!

One of the best parts of my job as a faculty member is interacting and engaging with students. This year, there are a large number of Masters of Information students who have been assigned to me as their advisor. It is difficult at the best of times to provide hands-on one-on-one advice to students and when there are so many, it becomes very hard to schedule. I have tried to meet with these students in groups partly because of the time issue but also because I am a firm believer in peer mentoring and network building. I benefited from peer mentoring in my many years at IBM and I also set up time for the people I mentored to get together in groups once in a while so they could get to know each other. I also believe that one of the most important aspects of graduate school is building a network of people who will become friends and long-time colleagues.

Recently, one of the students in my group of advisees, Jackie Michalchuk, organized a potluck dinner and games night for our group. She even gave us a name: KLAAG: Kelly Lyons’ Academic Advisees Group. We had delicious food, got to know more about each other in an informal setting, and had fun! I applaud the efforts of Jackie and the group of students who came out, participated, and had fun! I am looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Advice for in-coming Masters Students

Each incoming student in the Faculty of Information is assigned to a faculty advisor before they arrive. Last year, I prepared an "advice" document to share with each of the students who were assigned to me. I also shared it with some of my colleagues. Admissions Officer Laura Jantek suggested that I write a blog post with my advice so here it is!

Embarking on a Masters program is an exciting opportunity for life-long learning and professional and personal development. As a faculty member, I am looking forward to working with you to help fulfill your personal goals in this journey. We are here to provide advice and guidance but ultimately you are responsible for your success and attainment of your goals. You will be faced with several decisions during your program and your advisor may be able to help you learn how to think through the various choices and learn from making those decisions.

If you haven’t already done this, it is important for you to understand what motivates you. Take some time to explicitly articulate your personal and professional goals within this program. Doing this will help guide your decisions and the choices you make. Think about the following:
  • Why you are here in the program
  • What you hope to learn and accomplish
  • What kinds of situations make you feel satisfied, frustrated, anxious, proud
  • What are your preferred learning styles
  • What are your short-term goals
  • What are your long-term goals and aspirations
  • What are your areas of strength and where you wish to gain experience
  • How you define success

There are resources available to you to help you learn these things about yourself:
  • There is a temperament study you can do (the basic one is free).
  • There is a portfolio requirement for the Masters of Library and Information Science program at the University of Washington. The requirements of their portfolio program might be a good guide for you in determining your areas of strength and areas where you wish to gain experience.
  • Your friends and family.
If you feel comfortable, share your goals and motivations with your advisor so he/she can help you achieve them during your time in the Faculty of Information. You may wish to keep a journal where you can keep track of different situations and experiences, what you did, and how things worked out. A word document, a blog, or locally-kept html document would work well.

There are many ways your advisor can provide advice throughout your time in the Faculty of Information. Here are some examples but there may be others that will be useful to you:
  • Helping you reach decisions by listening to alternatives you’ve identified
  • Broadening your network of people and organizations by introducing you to people and groups
  • Sharing their experiences from their own work/academic life
  • Helping you balance your school with the rest of your life activities (‘work/life balance’) by sharing strategies learned over the years
  • Identifying opportunities for career development, leadership, projects outside your class work that will help you achieve your goals
  • Providing advice for job interviews and finding a job
Think about where you would like your advisor to help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. In general, as an advisor, I expect students to investigate issues and think about them before coming to me. Bring me various alternatives that you have discovered yourself and then ask for advice and guidance on the different alternatives.

There are many questions and issues you will come across where your advisor will not be able to help directly. For example, we will not help you complete assignments for your classes and will not intervene between you and your class instructors. In those cases, your advisor can provide general advice and strategies that will help you manage the issues yourself. And remember, advisors will not have all the answers!

Finally, each of us advise many students, teach courses, conduct research, and participate in conferences, etc. And you are also busy. Time is critical for all of us—so make (and keep) appointments with your advisor, decide on the best ways of communicating and meeting, and come prepared for your discussion in order to make the best of our time together.

We all look forward to getting to know you and sharing in your graduate school success!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Plans: Research Project 1

For an academic, summer really starts when the marks are all submitted after the end of classes. So, my summer has already started. In fact I’m two months in (almost half-way). This is not a comforting thought. There was (is) so much I want to (need to) do this summer.

I started by (finally) writing up the service science research landscape I blogged about last year. It has been submitted as a book chapter to the theme: “Service Systems Implementation”, a Volume in “Service Science: Research and Innovations (SSRI) in the Service Economy” Book Series, Springer.

I’m also working on three fun research projects with smart people this summer. I will briefly introduce each of them in the next few posts.

The first is a project on the decision-making needs of future knowledge-workers. I’m working with PhD student John Peco in the Faculty of Information who is studying how young people use social networking sites and other online tools to help them engage with information and people for decision-making. A survey will be out soon to help us learn more. I'm also working with soon-to-be masters student in Computer Science, Fan Dong, who is looking into collaborative decision making in cross-site software engineering groups. Fan is conducting a literature review looking at research into what are key decisions that are made in software engineering, how those decisions are made (in what ways using what methods), when various decisions are made (at what stages of software engineering), with whom (when / why do they engage with others) and using which tools or models.

Fan and I are also compiling a list of the kinds of decisions that are made during a software development effort, whether during design and requirements gathering, coding, testing, release planning, deployment, configuration, maintenance, etc.

So, my question to all the software people out there is:

What are some of the decisions you make (or made) in your software development work?

Please respond as comments to this post or to me directly and I’ll summarize and post back.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Teaching Introduction to Service Science

I really should be given a “bad blogger” award. Come to think of it, maybe I don’t deserve to be referred to as a “blogger” at all. I haven’t posted in a while. I have, on the other hand, composed many blog posts. I do it all the time while: standing waiting for a bus, riding the subway, swimming lengths, and while trying to concentrate on my breath as I lie in savasana. These in-my-head posts rarely receive comments.

I have a lot to blog about. I’m teaching FIS2306 Introduction to Service Science again this year. I’m enjoying it even more this time around. I have 14 students and each bring very different backgrounds and insights into the discussion. They are currently working on their first assignment (or will be soon). They have been asked to select a service system and analyze it according to various criteria and definitions presented in some of the papers we’ve read (see below). I think it is a fun exercise and would like to go through it for several different diverse kinds of service systems. In cases where they feel that the terms or concepts asked for in the analysis do not fit their chosen service system or some aspects of their service system, I’ve asked them to discuss why that is the case and provide supporting examples to argue their points. At the end, I ask them to summarize by discussing how well the analysis fit or did not fit their service system.

I include the assignment information here. If anyone reading would like to analyze a service system in this way and post it here, I promise not to grade it, but I will enjoy reading it!

1. Give a brief overview of your service system. Provide the type or class of service systems to which your service system belongs.

2. Describe and discuss your service system in terms of the following definition from [1]:
... we define a service system as a dynamic value co-creation configuration of resources, including people, organizations, shared information (language, laws, measures, methods), and technology, all connected internally and externally to other service systems by value propositions.

Consider all aspects of this definition giving examples from your service system for each concept included in the definition. Discuss how well the definition fits with your specific service system and identify any relevant concepts in your service system that may not be included in this definition.

3. Given one of the points of view (or perspectives) in your service system, identify 5 resources. Discuss whether they are operand or operant resources and why. For each resource, determine if they are conceptual or physical, have legal rights or are treated as property.

4. Discuss the notion of value in your service system. Consider how value is judged in your service system and the possible frames of reference for judging that value.

5. Identify and describe 2 key service processes* in your service system and discuss why you feel those are key processes.

Consider the primary service processes* in your service system:

1. Select one service process in your service system and describe it briefly. Then, for that service process:
  • Identify the client (customer) of the chosen service process based on the definition in [2]: “the individual or entities who determine whether or not the service provided shall be compensated for production”. Discuss any assumptions you made about the term “compensation”. If applicable, differentiate between direct and indirect customers as defined in [2].
  • Given the 3 general kinds of customer inputs from [2] (customer self-inputs, tangible belongings, customer-provided information), which does the client (customer) in your chosen service process provide to the service process? (Give examples)
2. In [2], five “supposed” characteristics of services are given: heterogeneity, simultaneity, perishability, intangibility, and customer participation. Choose two of these and discuss one or more service processes in your service system in the context of these characteristics. Discuss how these two characteristics might (or might not) be “symptoms” of the customer inputs in your service processes.

3. Consider the definition of service interactions in [1]:
Value co-creation interactions between service systems are termed service interactions. Each service system engages in three main activities that make up as service interaction: (1) proposing a value co-creation interaction to another service system (proposal), (2) agreeing to a proposal (agreement), and (3) realizing the proposal (realization). ...

Discuss and compare service interactions and non-service interactions in your service system. Consider how you define value co-creation and the three activities that make up a service interaction given in [1].

4. Consider the ISPAR model of service system interactions presented in [1]. Select two interactions in your service system and discuss two possible outcomes for each as defined in the ISPAR model.

5. Identify a high-intensity service process in your service system as defined by the amount of information exchanged [3]. Discuss why you feel the information exchanged makes it a high-intensity process in your service system.

*The term “process” is used in [2] but you can consider this to be similar to “interactions” in [1] and “encounters” or “experiences” in [3].

[1] Jim Spohrer, Stephen L. Vargo, Nathan Caswell, Paul P. Maglio, “The Service System is the Basic Abstraction of Service Science”, Proceedings of the 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Jan. 2008, 10 pages
[2] Scott E. Sampson, Craig M. Froehle, “Foundations and Implications of a Proposed Unified Services Theory,” Production and Operations Management, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 329-343, Summer 2006
[3] R. J. Glushko and L. Tabas, "Bridging the 'Front Stage' and 'Back Stage' in Service System Design", Proceedings of the 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Jan. 2008