Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Technology of Change

The use of lobbies, groups, political tools, consultants, the creation of consensus, negotiation of terms, participatory processes for decision making, documentation through white papers, use of models, and modeling all aim to increase our success as decision-makers, make us more effective.

Of these models are mathematical representations of the process that drives change. Just as you do not have to be an architect to read the blueprint plan of a building, you do not always have to be a mathematician to see the blueprint of change described by a model.

The Power of Models
No wonder models have been used to document decisions; to justify decisions and provide auditable evidence. Models have created organizational legacy; they have documented knowledge and experience of the systems and processes that the organization encounters. They have helped us to bootstrap previous models and provide an advanced decision-making capability.

Models have also provided us with vehicles to share our basis of decision-making. Different stakeholders can have access to the model, although they may not have access to the decision-maker. Models have therefore helped to bridge perspectives, to create a backgrounder for negotiation, even a basis for policy.

Models have served the needs of those governing to create and contrast scenarios. They have helped serve as the basis to evolve policies or strategic intents. Models have helped the managers to clarify policy; to explore decision-possibilities within the policy space. They havehelped undertake performance appraisals, served as a means for designing indicators for reporting the state of the systems being managed.

The Opportunities for the Future
Like architectural blueprints, models support our reasoning needs but only few models may support our needs of feeling. There is also a huge variance in the ability of different models to serve our needs. Like the architectural blueprint, a model is often seen as a surrogate decision maker, a substitute to oneself.

Unlike team members who learn, adapt and work with the us, the model is usually a given; a pass-me-down. Unless we have modeled the model ourselves, the model works on purposes that may not be shared with us. To us these purposes may become cross-purposes, non-existent, “hard-coded” or undocumented. So while they capture knowledge and experience, models often fail to allow modification of the premises from which they draw conclusions and recommend decisions.

Technology of Change
However it is models that help us to look at designs of reality. The way things could be, not just the way they are. In this sense they are unique in their offering; unique as a technology of change. Offering the application of our knowledge of the driving forces of change to redesign change. In fact models provide the decision-maker the basis for the (re)design of the system or process.

The Frontier of Technology of Change
The big role models have to play in the next 20 years is to serve as a colleague with the ability to build consensus, create buy-in, provide participation, keep secret strategic and tactical scenarios, a colleague capable of rapid comparisons of scenarios in-context and on-call, a team-member bringing mission focus, a sounding-board. In fact models will be the essential blueprints and serve as an essential standard of openness and good governance practices in the years to come.


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