Framework for Addressing When in Messes and Problems

Addressing the when perspective in our messes and problems requires that we complete the following two steps for an identified problem:

  • 1. Assess the problem FCM to ensure all concepts operate on the same timescale. If necessary, adjust causal weights to synchronize time steps.
  • 2. Use the decision flowchart (Fig. 11.8) for addressing intervention timing to determine the appropriateness of intervening in a problem and to document the accompanying rationale.

A note on Step 1 is necessary before illustrating this framework on an example problem. Step 1 asks us to ensure that all causal weights are being assigned based on the same temporal scale (i.e., one day, one week, etc.) and adjust if necessary. We can investigate this notion by listing all concepts and their associated time period for change (i.e., a week, month, year, etc.). If all concepts do not change in the same time period, we can adjust incoming weights for those that do not synchronize them. We focus on adjusting incoming weights as they influence the speed at which a concept changes in our FCM. We can make adjustments as a rough order of magnitude by adjusting weights according to a reference point (e.g., the minimum time horizon in which a change in any concept in the FCM is observable).

More sophisticated techniques for dealing with temporal inconsistencies can be found in Park and Kim (1995), who add intermediate concepts to synchronize time steps between concepts and Hagiwara (1992), who provides techniques for incorporating nonlinear weights, conditional weights, and time delays between concepts. Each approach complicates the FCM development significantly and can be pursued if more sophisticated analysis is desired.

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