Systemic Decision Making Fundamentals for Addressing Problems and Messes

Paper / Decision-making and Valuation

Systemic Decision Making Fundamentals for Addressing Problems and Messes
Melio Saenz, Member, Director, Ecuador

Systems decision.

Making decisions are not only volitional acts but, rather, the result of processes in which the organization, institution or company, the environment and the individual and collective human beings that make it up participate. Most decision problems are poorly structured, wicked and complex.
In the early stages, decision problems were framed in simple structures whose elements were ordered by a single equivalence class determined by the organization's obvious needs. The technical perspective was not enough to solve the disordered and chaotic situations that arose. The methods used to elaborate the proposed solutions were simple and, sometimes, they came from other disciplines with an abundance of heuristics oriented to satisfy real and fictitious needs coming from, above all, the top management who verified, a-posteriori, the quality of the solutions proposed by the lack of concordance of the results with reality. Decision-making techniques overestimated intuition as a unifying element of information, of common sense and of saving intellectual effort, which often hided consequences that were not very evident but, in reality, important, delaying the effective resolution of problems.
Is in this way that emerges the need to increase the reliability of the solutions obtained, seeking to give them an integral approach leading to axiomatize the knowledge of the Decision Sciences. The book by Hester and Adams is part of this effort contributing through the construction of solid epistemological bases, proposing routes to bring the knowledge generated into practice and facilitating the design of solutions that allow to act effectively in time and space in order to optimize the processes associated with the business and institutional interventions necessary to implement the accepted solutions, minimizing the negative effects caused by them and by the observers, assuming as necessary the participation of the human being, individual and collective, which leads to increasing risks and vulnerabilities.
The proposal developed in Systemic Decision Making consists of building decision support models from a systemic conception of the organization, studying the risks and vulnerabilities separating them into entities susceptible to understanding them and explaining them, then reconstructing the structure of the system complex in which the decision-making process is lodged. The tasks of forecasting and anticipation go to tools that have ensured their scientific value serving as support in related episodes.
The Systems Theory is fundamentally presented by the authors who unravel issues related to knowledge, the conceptual reasons on which it is based and the arguments why actors and agents would participate in the processes, all from the perspective of integration and relationship of the elements in a harmony that seeks different levels of balance that favor interventions in the behavior of the system.
Hester and Adams are interested in structures whose elements are ordered by, at least, two equivalence relations whose validity conditions are developed for the admissibility of the elements, corresponding to said structures. Based on these structures, the processing perspectives are identified and characterized by the formulation of hypotheses, the analysis and the synthesis of the information whose results serve as support for the decision-making processes.
The available information serves as a starting point to forecast different states of the system, subject to conditions that can modify the global behavior. The methods traditionally used are, generally, framed in systematic proposals that can incorporate tools coming from disciplines such as operations research or the same systems theory, numerical analysis or statistical treatment. These systematic procedures limit the technological perspective without allowing the application of systemic thinking that privileges the study of the structures and relationships between the elements of the system that describes the organization and of it and its environment.
The decision-making process proposed by Hester and Adas is based on systemic thinking through the application of a three-stage process: think, analyze and observe, giving greater importance to global results.
A recapitulative chapter illustrates the systemic essence of the theory exposed and leads the engineer towards the applications, often novel, of the results of the study.
The language used by the authors is accessible to entire public: no prior training is required to read it. However, the specialist finds a formal, interesting and attractive exhibition since, starting with the thematic segmentation, it facilitates the introduction of concepts and their application in real life. Neophyte can enjoy a serious exposition on a subject of great interest and the engineer will find arguments to try new ways of application in real life.
In short, a remarkable work that should not be missing in the library of the specialist, the technician and the student.

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