New England Complex Systems Institute

Strategic Planning in Complex Environments

Time: Friday, June 19, 1998 10:00 AM-4:00 PM

Location: Jackson Room, Room 38-466, MIT (see map at )

Organizer: Michael Lissack

Speaker: Harold Klein (Temple Univ.)

Topic: Structure and Representation of Highly Complex, Chaotic Environments for Strategic Planning

Harold Klein from Temple will discuss his work in developing methodology for strategic planning. He will show how the efficacy of various strategic analysis techniques are constrained by inappropriate representations and are inconsistent with neurocognitive processes. He will draw on recent research in this area.

His particular interest is in effecting a confrontation of decision-makers with strategically-relevant environmental change. He has developed a unique causal mapping approach that results in what he calls "normative cognitive maps" -- in that the map outputs reveal answers to key questions confronting top management in the midst of chaotic change situations: What strategic decisions/activities need to be coordinated? In what sequence or priority need these decisions be addressed? And how and where can the organization take action/intervene within the environment so as to "shape" the future to the organization's betterment? The approach is call SPIRE (Systematic Procedure for Identifying Relevant Environments).

Harold's approach makes use of neuronal network concepts. He has developed a heuristic program for organizing complex environmental dynamics with organizational implications into causal maps that resemble and exhibit properties of neuronal networks. He will discuss the conceptual basis for the methodolgy as well as present the results of its application in several corporate planning contexts. Particularly, he will focus on the most recent application at the Florida Power & Light Company. Outputs from this project will be made available. His work was sponsored by a grant from the Electric Power Research Institute.