Useful Modelling Techniques Introduction by wuzhenguang


									Useful Modelling Techniques

“A model is an external and explicit representation of part of reality as seen by the people who wish to use
that model to understand, to change, to manage and to control that part of reality” Pidd (1996). Models are
designed to provide a simple representation of some aspect of reality:

 Reality                                                          Models
 Complex                                                          Simple
 Subtle                                                           Concrete
 Ill-defined                                                      Fully defined
    Adapted from Pidd (1996)

The development and use of rational and logical analysis can be a great aid in managing that complexity
and in recognising and managing the inevitable risks. A modelling approach is a particularly useful
approach for decision making and control. Some modelling techniques are based on mathematical and
logical models, others are ways of helping people to think through the consequences of decisions.

Cognitive Mapping
                       Concept 2          Cognitive mapping is a modelling methodology, used to capture
                       (the end)          people’s views so as to develop an explicit model of them. A cognitive
                                          map is a form of influence diagram, which consists of nodes, known
                         +                as concepts, linked by arrows. The direction of the arrow is intended
                                          to represent the causal direction of the relationship:
                                          A positive sign indicates a positive link, a negative sign indicates a
                                          negative link. Each concept should be expressed as a pair of
   Concept 1                              opposites (poles). The second pole is not necessarily the simple
  (the means)                             negative of the first, but is used to help clarify what is meant by the
                                          concept. Those without a second pole are either goals, or require no
                                          clarification. For example:

                                                   +          Refreshing holiday

                                                  +           +      +
                                       No illness…stomach
                                       problems                                       Good food … chips
                                                                                      with everything
           Good weather…lots                                                                        +
           of rain                                     No Cooking

                   -                                                                         Eat in restaurants
                         Quiet   location….lots
                         to do
                                      +                   Hotel…self catering                       -
                                 Stay in UK…go abroad

                                                   +                                 Spend less than £500

                                                  Drive there…fly

                                                                                         Adapted from Pidd (1996)

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 Useful Modelling Techniques

Each individual in a given situation would have a different cognitive map as it is a representation of how they
view the situation. The map can be used from either a top-down or a bottom-up approach. It is important to
ensure that the map is as complete as it can be and to move from expressing ideas, to considering the actions
which might be taken.

Problem Structuring

Strategic decision making and planning can be aided and supported by ‘soft’ models (Pidd, 1996). These
interpretive approaches aim to explore the disagreements and uncertainties which exist within strategic
decisions so that an agreed consensus and commitment to action can be reached.

                             Puzzles                     Problems                         Messes
 Formulation                 Agreed                      Agreed                           Arguable
 Solution                    Agreed                      Arguable                         Arguable
  Adapted from Pidd (1996)

Strategic decisions are most closely characterised by the properties of a ‘mess’ (Pidd, 1996), whereby
there is extreme ambiguity as to what the definition of the situation is, and whether a solution exists at all.

Problem structuring is one way in which problem definitions can be defined in order to make them more
clear and manageable. Some techniques for problem structuring:
        The Idiot Questions – What? Why? When? How? Where? Who?
        Spray Diagrams – capture and display relationships, often referred to as mind mapping
        Brainstorming – used to generate a large number of ideas, which can then be grouped and

Process Mapping

Business process models, or process mapping, is one example of modelling used within the business
environment. These models support business re-engineering through identifying which components of
the process are essential and where improvements will make a difference.

A process map is a way of representing a process graphically, which helps to understand the current
process and to see the relationships and potential for improvement. There are four stages of mapping:

       1.   What you think it is – gathering views of those related to the process
       2.   What it really is – checking and walking the process
       3.   What it should be – how the process can be improved                   Constraints
       4.   What it could be – if you could start from square one

                                                                          Inputs                           Output

                                            Activity A

                                                             Activity B                    Resources

                                                                                   Activity C

                                                         TRANSFORMING CAPABILITY SUPPORT MATERIALS
                                                                           LEADING VISION CREATION
Useful Modelling Techniques

Further information
Pidd, M., (1996), ‘Tools for Thinking: Modelling in Management Science’, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester,

Turner, S., 2002, ‘Tools for Success: A Manager Guide’, McGraw Hill Professional, Berkshire, UK

                                                  TRANSFORMING CAPABILITY SUPPORT MATERIALS
                                                                    LEADING VISION CREATION

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