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1 Alan McLucas A challenge to knowledge managers: Correcting repeated failures to learn.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Alan McLucas A challenge to knowledge managers: Correcting repeated failures to learn."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Alan McLucas A challenge to knowledge managers: Correcting repeated failures to learn

2 2 Why We Make ‘Bad’ Decisions  Inherent massive complexity C > (Kline)  Ability to reliably solve problems C < 5 (Kline)  Limited cognitive capability re dynamic behaviour (Sterman, Morecroft, Kleinmuntz…)  Bounded rationality (Simon, Argyris)  Erroneous mental models (Senge), personal constructs (Kelly) or inappropriate use of heuristics (Gigerenzer)  Restrictive ‘Systems of Meaning’ (Flood)  Politics and ‘Systems of Knowledge-Power’ (Flood) Alan McLucas

3 3 Pre-conditions for Disaster  Litany of systemic failures at all levels in organisations involved  A breakdown in communications  Existence of a ‘culture of denial’ - no problems to worry about  Failure to understand critical systemic influences  Failure to learn  Failure to manage risks Alan McLucas

4 4 CASE STUDIES 18 soldiers killed and12 injured when two Black Hawk helicopters collided during a routine exercise A 1kg fragment of steel killed a spectator who was 430 metres away among the watching crowd of over 30,000 A fire in the engine room of HMAS WESTRALIA resulted in the deaths of four Naval personnel. Explosion and fire at Esso’s Longford Gas Plant No.1 in Sep 98 caused the death of two workers and injuries to eight others.

5 5 Selection of Case Studies Drawn from real-life ‘messy’ problems Had to be extensively documented Needed to be reported with high levels of objectivity and reliability Able to withstand legal and public scrutiny Alan McLucas

6 6 Concept (cognitive) Mapping ‘Active smoking, rather than passive smoking leads to heart disease’ Alan McLucas heart disease active smoking … passive smoking

7 7 heart diseaseactive smoking passive smoking Alan McLucas stress lack of regular exercise elevated blood pressure high cholesterol low HDL/LDL genetic pre- disposition Concept map - a partial or temporary view, a transient object to aid understanding !

8 8 Alan McLucas Black Hawk Helicopter Crash Case Study

9 9 Alan McLucas

10 10 Concept Mapping - Conclusions Concept maps, in each case studied, exhibited very similar structures. Critical ‘core’ nodes in each concept map could be summarised as … failure to understand, failure to learn and, hence, failure to manage risks. Focusing management effort on critical ‘core’ nodes might well have averted these disasters - but who would have known? Alan McLucas

11 11 Managers and decision-makers have an underdeveloped appreciation of the nature of the complexity with which they must deal. Techniques demonstrated here can enhance understanding, learning and management of risks in complex environments. Greatest gains are to be made in correcting the worst failure: repeated failure to learn. Alan McLucas Concept Mapping - Conclusions

12 12 Recognition-Primed Decision-Making (Klein)

13 13 Challenge to Knowledge Managers Understand the strengths and weaknesses of naturalistic decision-making. Recognise systemic structures underlying complex problems. Ability to identify critical nodes, ‘pressure points’ or ‘leverage points’ - where to apply management effort to produce a big change. Understanding the dynamics that produce counter-intuitive behaviour in problems and elude our strategies to correct them. Alan McLucas


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