new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Neill on Sat May 01, 2010 1:19 pm

But it will be great when they default and we each get our own Greek Island :-)

The Euro is a lot like reunification.
Long term it is the correct decision so you might as well get on and do it.
The sooner you get started the sooner you finish.

Reminds me of the story of how Napoleon ordered trees planted along the roads to shade his troops when marching.
Told they would take years to grow he is supposed to have answered "then best we get started now".

Neill
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Fri May 07, 2010 2:52 pm

Today I came across a brilliant introduction to "wicked problems" ( http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications07/w ... oblems.pdf ). Not sure who the authors are but I suspect they're the same people that are just about to publish the earthscan book of the same name ( http://www.earthscan.co.uk/?TabId=102293&v=512016 ). Anyway, there is a very interesting section summarising Nancy Robert's work on organisational models:

There is no quick fix for wicked policy problems, no glib formula about ‘Seven Steps to Crush Social Complexity’ or ‘Tame Your Way to the Top’. Most of the literature advocates a collaborative approach to wicked problems, but some research acknowledges that other approaches are possible.

Professor Nancy Roberts suggests that the key consideration is how power is dispersed among the stakeholders. She identifies three possible strategies:

• authoritative strategies.

These give the problem to some group (or an individual), who take on the problem-solving process while others agree to abide by its decisions. Identification of this small set of stakeholders may rest on their knowledge and expertise, organisational position in the hierarchy, information or coercive power. An essential ingredient is that other stakeholders acquiesce in the transfer of power to the anointed few and agree or are forced to abide by their decisions. Examples include the High Court decision around native title and Reserve Bank decisions around interest rates. Such authoritative strategies can also be useful in emergency situations.

– Key advantages include efficiency and timeliness.

– Key disadvantages include the potential disregard for important issues and considerations, as authorities and experts tend to search for solutions within their narrow bandwidth of experience, and the lost opportunity for learning. If problem-solving is left to experts, especially in a democratic society, then citizens can become further distanced or alienated from the important issues of their time. Their commitment to the proposed solution may be weak which may or may not matter depending on the issue.


• competitive strategies.

Central to the pursuit of such strategies is the search for power, influence and market share — stakeholders following this strategy generally assume a win-lose outcome. The competitive federalism of the Australian system can result in this approach, for example, when the States compete for foreign and local investment.

– Key advantages include the creation of new ideas and innovation and the provision of choice, for example, competition between Job Network providers.

– Key disadvantages include conflict and stalemates that occur when stakeholders have enough power to block one another but not enough power to achieve their agenda. Competition can also consume resources that could be spent on problem-solving.


• collaborative strategies.

These are supported by the bulk of the literature (including by Professor Roberts) as being the most effective in dealing with wicked problems that have many stakeholders amongst whom power is dispersed. It is particularly relevant where part of the solution to the problem involves sustained behavioural change by many stakeholders and/or citizens. At the core of collaboration is a win-win view of problemsolving. Partnerships, joint ventures, whole of (or joined up) government, international treaties and information campaigns to influence lifestyle choices are all variations on this strategy.

– Key advantages include higher stakeholder commitment, more comprehensive and effective solutions, and fewer resources having to be used by any one stakeholder.

– Key disadvantages include increased transaction costs (these costs can be significant) and the fact that the skills of collaboration are in limited supply. In worst cases collaboration can end poorly—dialogue can turn into conflict, hardened positions and stalemate.

The remainder of this section is essentially premised on the assumption that collaborative strategies are the best approach to tackling wicked problems which require behavioural change as part of their solution.


I think this is extremely useful summary material for illustrating hierarchical, individualistic and egalitarian approaches....
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Mon May 10, 2010 2:31 pm

..... and it turns out that Nancy Roberts has researched the situation in Afghanistan quite extensively: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/conten ... 754&db=all ;)
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Mon May 10, 2010 3:14 pm

Neill wrote:I see Afghanistan as being full of lots of independent nodes (like the Internet). They are loosely linked but there is no hierarchy.
Destroying one node has little or no effect on the rest. The system is very resistant (as the British, Russian and American Empires have all discovered).


Reading one of Nancy Roberts' papers (http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/V ... 1006-7.pdf ), it turns out that Neill was absolutely spot-on in his analysis. I think both describe the situation as decentralised and competitive, rather than hierarchical, even when the Taliban were in power. It would have been hierarchical only if the Taliban had taken total control of the country and crushed all opposition - in effect, this never happened. So Neill's example using Afghani and British modes of organisation to illustrate individualistic and hierarchical systems turns out to be quite a good one! :roll:
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Dave H on Mon May 10, 2010 5:46 pm

With the current UK situation and the lack of a government or apparent process to find one I wonder if a SSM study or a Complex Adaptive System analysis might provide some insights on the way forward. I just wonder if any body is aware of any similar studies that might have been carried out or views on how systems thinking might be used to move the issue of forming a government forward.
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Teiana on Mon May 10, 2010 7:06 pm

don't ask me, i'm hiding in the cupboard under the stairs with a biscuit tin full of emergency rations and a torch. The country's in chaos!!
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Neill on Mon May 10, 2010 8:43 pm

Hello Andrea,
An interesting article.
Although it seems more concerned with the lack of an authoritative framework amongst the aid agencies rather than amongst the Afghans.

You wrote
o Neill's example using Afghani and British modes of organisation to illustrate individualistic and hierarchical systems turns out to be quite a good one!

but that was only a "step on the way" to what I was really saying which was that the Afghan model is very resilient and therefore likely to survive. It is not organized enough to "project" its self externally but very resilient against external threats.

Once a country falls in to the "Afghan state" then it becomes stable (stable as in resistant to change - not in nice place to live). So surely long term we should expect more of these "stable" states to spring up as the much heralded descent in to resource driven anarchy arrives.

Neill
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Neill on Mon May 10, 2010 8:45 pm

Dave wrote
... how systems thinking might be used to move the issue of forming a government forward

I don't know about that but many countries already have a working solution - coalition governments.
They work here in Germany and in many other places and lead to less extreme politics. Maybe the UK should give it a try.
Neill
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Tue May 11, 2010 1:51 pm

Neill wrote: many countries already have a working solution - coalition governments.
They work here in Germany and in many other places and lead to less extreme politics. Maybe the UK should give it a try.
Neill


And the reason why people here in the UK find the current situation disconcerting is that they are used to a rather more hierarchical form of governance -- exactly as you highlight in your Afghanistan/Britain example. It always amazes me how stable and long-lasting British governments can be swept into power and pass Draconian legislation with less than a third of the popular mandate (if you also include the 35% of the eligible population that didn't vote)-- in any other country this would be defined as a dictatorship :roll:
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Tue May 11, 2010 2:02 pm

Neill wrote:Once a country falls in to the "Afghan state" then it becomes stable (stable as in resistant to change - not in nice place to live). So surely long term we should expect more of these "stable" states to spring up as the much heralded descent in to resource driven anarchy arrives.


I'm not entirely sure whether competitive individualism is the mode of organisation which provides greater stability. I think you are right, Neill, in stating that it is the most difficult to control (as you can also see with the free market), but, surely, competitive individualism results in unpredictable and chaotic change rather than stability?

Wouldn't a co-operative and egalitarian system provide greater stability in times of resource scarcity?
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