Analysis of Interactive Decision Areas

More than any other situation Change is about cooperation and collaboration. No matter if your company is in serious trouble or just wants to find a new way to line itself up – it always needs people to initiate, moderate, steer, coordinate and live that Change.

So what? The problem is that often people simply don´t know how to cooperate. Of course people cooperate on a daily base, but this is mostly routine, it´s like a form of vegetative state. Change causes different needs and different needs urges people to modify their behavior.

Over years I have collected several “Creativity Techniques” to support Cooperation between people – not only in times of Change. It is always better to be prepared than surprised…

What are Creativity Techniques?
Creativity techniques are heuristic methods to facilitate creativity in a person or a group of people. They are most often used in creative problem solving.

Generally, most creativity techniques use associations between the goal (or the problem), the current state (which may be an imperfect solution to the problem), and some stimulus (possibly selected randomly). There is an analogy between many creativity techniques and methods of evolutionary computation.

In problem-solving contexts, the random word creativity technique is perhaps the simplest such method. A person confronted with a problem is presented with a randomly generated word, in the hopes of a solution arising from any associations between the word and the problem. A random image, sound, or article can be used instead of a random word as a kind of creativity goad or provocation.

Analysis of Interactive Decision Areas
Analysis of Interactive Decision Areas – Luckman, Operational Research Quarterly, 1967; Friend and Hickling, Planning Under Pressure: The Strategic Choice Approach by John Friend and Allen Hickling, 1987 is used when you have several inter-connected problems where the solution choices for one will affect the solution choices for another. You therefore need to evaluate the solutions as a group, but the number of theoretically possible group combinations may be large. AIDA identifies combinations that cannot coexist and can therefore be eliminated, hence substantially reducing the number of combinations you need to compare.

Assuming that you have already got a list of problems, and have identified possible solutions for each. Then:

  • Identify any problems that do not interact: Draw a matrix with the problem names on each axis (e.g. 5 problems need a 5×5 matrix); delete the diagonal and the bottom triangle, to leave one cell for each different problem pair. Mark each cell ‘X’ if any of the solutions in the pair of problems the cell represents cannot co-exist. Remove from AIDA any problems with a blank row in this matrix; these have no interactions, and you can work with them independently.
P1 P2 P3 P4 P5
P1 x
P2 x
P3 x
P4 x
P5 x
  •  Identify incompatible pairs of solutions: Write each remaining problem with its solutions, on a large Post-it slip (e.g. 4 problems give four slips). Stick them on a large working area (e.g. a white-board). Go through each solution on each slip, checking it against every solution on all the other slips to identify any pairs of solutions that cannot coexist. Draw a ‘bar-line’ linking the two members of each such incompatible pair of solutions. Then all solutions in different problems that are not barred are free to be combined.
  • Create a solution tree: Create a tree-diagram that displays all compatible combinations of solution options. Remove any incompatible branches. The remaining solutions can now be compared against agreed criteria like any other set of solutions.
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