The Dawn of the Activity Domain Theory

The Dawn of the Activity Domain Theory

Lars Taxén (Linköping University, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-192-6.ch001


In this chapter, the evolution of the domain construction strategy is recapitulated. This story is divided into a number of phases that can be seen as “life ages” of the strategy at Ericsson. It was born during particular circumstances in the late 1990s, it had its peak during the millennium shift and it died with the collapse of the telecom market around 2002-2003. Its remains still linger on at Ericsson, but in a completely transformed way where the essential elements of the strategy have evaporated into thin air.
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A Pattern Emerges (1990-1995)

Many of the ideas that subsequently were included in the ADT came from my participation in the AXE-N project. I do not claim to be the first to come up with these ideas. On the contrary, taken one by one these are well known. My contribution, I believe, is to have selected and organized these ideas into a coherent theory.

Concept elaboration

In the AXE-N project many new concepts were invented, and these concepts had to be relevant, unambiguous and understandable to the actors. To this end an ambitious subproject was launched to collect and define concepts. The project had special teams whose purpose it was to collect candidates for new concepts. Pending concepts were taken to a reference group where it was decided if a particular concept would be included in the AXE-N project encyclopedia.

In spite of this work, it was very difficult to get an overall picture of the project where concepts could be seen in their context (LTX-1994-08-15, ERI-1995-03-15)1. For example, in the new system development process to be used in the project, more than 120 new concepts were defined in a list without any conceptual map that could explain how they were related to each other (ERI-1993-09-23).

To make matters worse, directives were issued towards the end of the project to use the AXE-N system development process for all kinds of developments, for example, of educational material. This meant that concepts in the AXE-N system like “node”, “logical reference model”, “system entity”, etc., had to be appropriated into the educational area. This created even more confusion: “Is a manual a node or system entity?” “Can a chapter be regarded as a logical reference node?” And so on.

Thus, in a few years (1990-1995) a completely new organizational language was to emerge, often in conflict with the traditional one. This turned out to be an overwhelming task. In parallel to this, a separate unrelated initiative was started outside the AXE-N project to define one hundred core concepts within Ericsson (ERI-1992-09-30). These experiences indicated that the effort to create common understanding in a work setting is in general underestimated, if paid attention to at all.

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