“S-cubed" refers to the Social Systems Sciences program that operated as a department of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania from the early 1970s through the mid 1980s. The program's star, Russell Ackoff, had been a prominent academic at Case Western University who co-authored the textbook Introduction to Operations Research (1957), a pioneering work that helped define a field.
Ackoff, however, became increasingly critical of Operations Research reliance on specific mathematical techniques; coming to Wharton in 1964, he advocated a multi-disciplinary, functional approach to problem-solving (or preferably problem “dissolving"). At Wharton, Ackoff worked with his former philosophy professors Tom Cowan and Operations Research co-author C. West Churchman as well as other prominent researchers such as Fred Emery and Eric Trist to develop such multi-disciplinary methods. As Social Systems Sciences developed, it also became associated with several other principles including,
- synthetic (as opposed to analytical) reasoning,
- broad stakeholder participation in decision making, and
- idealized design.
The program came to an end as an academic department in the late 1980s after Ackoff, Cowan and Jamshid Gharajedaghi left to form a consulting company, Interact. As far as I know, we never had a logo, but perhaps in some way we inspired these that I found on the web: