Word of the week for Service Designers

Language is a very crucial part of designing services. That’s why I wanted to share this newly discovered word with you. I think it captures the way many of us think in terms of systems, processes and services.

Autopoiesis literally means “auto (self)-creation” and expresses a fundamental dialectic between structure and function. The term was originally introduced by Chilean biologists in 1973.


“An autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components which: (i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them; and (ii) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in space in which they (the components) exist by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network.

[…] the space defined by an autopoietic system is self-contained and cannot be described by using dimensions that define another space. When we refer to our interactions with a concrete autopoietic system, however, we project this system on the space of our manipulations and make a description of this projection.”

The term autopoiesis was originally presented as a system description that was said to define and explain the nature of living systems.  An autopoietic system implies that not only it has the capacity to acquire knowledge, but also that knowledge itself, understood as effective action, determines the viability and, indeed, the very existence of the subject.

Good isn’t it?

Thank you to SianeP for highlighting I had autopoieses on my mind yesterday!