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Computer-Aided Design (CAD) of Complex, Human Problem-solving Models

There exists a class of complex, human problems (“CP2”) that manifest in the social, political, and environmental domains. These problems are unique in that they have multiple owners spread across multiple organizations; trust among stakeholders is required – and often absent – for the solution of these problems. The costs, subtleties, and sheer breadth of tasks needed to resolve these problems is unlikely to fit into a single human mind, and unlikely to be clearly represented by modern media – including multimedia documents like Google Docs, brainstorming applications like MindJet, and project-management software like Asana.

Three examples of CP2 problems follow:

  1. Race relations between the citizens and police in cities like Baltimore, Maryland;
  2. High rates of violent crime in Chicago; and
  3. Poverty and opioid misuse in the US Rust Belt.

Unlike class-one complex problems (CP1) that came before them and found adequate solution approaches, such as operations optimization, financial engineering, and battlefield command and logistics, CP2 problems require a sophisticated visual representation meeting the following criteria (C2), suited to aligning multiple stakeholders:

  1. The superordinate goal is clear;
  2. All participants, irrespective of their initial trust in one another, believe that their angle on the problem has been represented and will be acted upon;
  3. All obstacles to the superordinate goal have been captured, decomposed into actionable units, and suitable next actions have been proposed.

In short, CP2 represent the critical problems of our time, problems that will remain unsolved with current frameworks and systems because the need to inspire and align and convince stakeholders to have trust in a solution model is not possible with texts and static images… and Post-It notes. If we are to overcome the current challenges in race relations, violence, political polarization, environmental adaptation, and poverty, we will require a fresh set of tools, techniques, and systems that meet C2.

We are proposing a new branch of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) for the software-assisted design and implementation of complex, human problem-solving models.

Link to the working paper…
A Proposed Practical Problem-Solving Framework
for Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives in Socio-Ecological Systems
Based on a Model of the Human Cognitive Problem-Solving Process

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