III: Acting Systemically

Part III addresses how the practitioner will implement the systemic decision making multimethodology on the mess. Chapter 12 introduced two meta-perspectives, the what is and the what ought-to-be, in an effort to make sense at the mess level of our problem-level analyses. This guidance provided a framework for systemic understanding of our mess and a general guideline for undertaking a case study using the multimethodology presented in Chaps. 6 through 11 of Part II. Chapter 13 introduced the basics of decision analysis and provided a structured approach to determine an appropriate course of action for our mess that included concerns such as robustness and optimality. Chapter 14 discussed the very real potential for human error as an inevitable part of decision making. The ability to classify, manage, and prevent human error helps practitioners in their understanding with respect to the implementation of decisions.

IV: Observing Systemically

The final part of the book, Part IV, addresses the practitioner’s ability to observe messes and their attendant problems systemically. Consistent application of the behaviors in this section will ensure that practitioners use valid observations as the source for their interpretations and follow-on decisions when dealing with problems and messes. Chapter 15 specifies that observation is the central method in which we engage with the real world. As such, observation is the source for factual data which are assembled into information and processed into knowledge where we may use it in the generation of inferences and the formulation of decisions. Practitioners are advised that the human observer impacts each and every observation and that in order to make good, repeatable decisions a formal process must be invoked. In conjunction, the use of measurement, and an ability to account for biases and heuristics, in an effort to suppress their inadvertent use in decision making, must be accounted for. We include a model and associated four-phase process for observation. This chapter concludes with a powerful model that recognizes the relationship between technological systems for observation and the cognitive system of human processing as a means for making sense in real-world situations involving decision making. Chapter 16 addresses learning and the individual, group, organizational, and inter-organizational aspects of learning. We emphasize that learning is the raison d’etre of the feedback element in a systemic approach. Every viable organism and organization includes a reflexive response or behavior that permits it to change its behavior based upon its experience. This ability to rationally change, termed learning, is what permits the organism or organization to remain viable. This chapter also addresses that learning is the act that permits organizations to detect and recognize errors, analyze the errors, and adapt their behaviors, in a process of organizational learning. Chapter 17 concludes Part IV with a comprehensive case study focused on the Ford Pinto and the establishment of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration utilizing the multimethodology presented throughout the text. The goal in this chapter is to present a cradle-to-grave demonstration of the approach outlined in the text.

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