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Tackling Wicked Problems Collaboratively: The MctIBIS

Concept paper for the Multicentric Issue-Based Information System (MctIBIS)


on 26 December 2012

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Transcript of Tackling Wicked Problems Collaboratively: The MctIBIS

Tackling Wicked Problems Collaboratively:
The Multicentric IBIS December 2011
Updated: May 2012 Introduction What are wicked problems? One of many definitions:
Dynamic complexity - cause and effect are distant in space and time. Systemic approach to the problem and the solution required
Social complexity - many different and usually conflicting points of view and assumptions about the issue. The problem isn't owned by a single entity.
Generative complexity - old solutions are no longer working, and the problem is constantly changing and unpredictable. Requires a creative approach. Basic Requirements Harness collective intelligence of stakeholders and experts.
Utilize existing knowledge and lessons learned.
Identify focus areas and related issues of problems.
Frame the problem for deliberation.
Use an argumentation approach like the Issue-Based Information System (IBIS) to develop an issue/dialogue map. Existing Implementation of IBIS Organizations that support IBIS include:
Compendium Institute
Cognexus Institute
Knowledge Media Institute
MIT Institute for Collective Intelligence Existing implementations
Mostly graphical based resembling mindmaps or concept maps
MIT deliberatorium is text based
IBIS consists of six sub-systems. Only one - issue maps is implemented i.e. concept hijacked by the mind mapping community.
IBIS - a convincing concept but a lousy instrument (http://bit.ly/IKOy6c) The Challenge IBIS concept is very convincing but mass adoption is still elusive
Perhaps we need more than an argumentation system?
Graphical tools (current implementations) like mindmaps are not without their limitations.
Forums that allows free flow of rich communications by large number of participants very successful. Complex Problem Solving Skills O*Net (Occupation network) list the following basic skill sets for solving complex problems:
Problem identification,
Information Gathering,
Information Organization,
Idea Generation,
Idea Evaluation,
Implementation Planning, and
Solution appraisal.

Tackling tough and wicked problems requires technology, process and people. Problem Identification Identifying the nature of problems
Focus areas
Known Issues and initiatives
Framing of problems and issues Information Gathering What are the information required - parameters, accuracy, scale, etc.
Where to source for the information.
Information literacy - 7 pillars.
Design of experiments and survey. Information Organization Subject matter knowledge
Taxonomy commonly used
Controlled vocabulary
Naming of resources
Resource relationship structures Synthesis/Reorganization Reorganize the information so that it can be viewed from different perspectives
Compare, combine and consolidate information to create new information and understanding.
Visualize the information with charts and infographics.
Make sense of the information and understand what is going on. Caution "In our modern culture men and women are able to interact with one another in many ways: they can sing dance or play together with little difficulty but their ability to talk together about subjects that matter deeply to them seems invariably to lead to dispute, division and often to violence. In our view this condition points to a deep and pervasive defect in the process of human thought."

Dialogue: A Proposal, David Bohm (1991) Idea Generation Guiding policies
Strategic thinking
Multiple choice MctIBIS Content Model of MctIBIS Dialogue Topic Sufficient background information should be prepared and succinctly described for participants to be on same wavelength.
Purpose and outputs from dialogue defined to establish scope for the dialogue.
Focus areas to be identified with known issues. Preferably be developed based on desktop studies. Focus areas are also denoted as issues Facts should be gathered for easy reference and as baseline information Sub-Issues and ideas should be documented. Each focus area can be broken down into various sub-issues. Using the argumentation process, ideas, questions, solutions, support and opposing entries can be posted.

This will result in the issue/dialogue map for the focus area. MctIBIS Entry Types Entries The entries are inputs into the issue/dialogue map.
The entries can be from other literature or from participants.
Entries at the top level are the focus areas.
Other entries should be in response to existing entries. Reference materials Web links - should lead to specific pages relevant rather than to a website.
Documents - can be uploaded directly to the system.
Reference material must be submitted before adding related entries.
Many entries can reference the same reference material.
Key facts and information should be highlighted in the entries for the benefits of other participants.
Reference materials should be tagged against the subject headings.
Reference materials can be used across dialogues.
Can be compiled into an information repository for future reference Subject headings Provide an information architecture for clustering entries and reference materials.
Customizable for each dialogue.
Check list for identifying issues and factual information. Contributors In any dialogue, it is important that people know who they are talking to, and this includes their academic background and work experience. Since this information is already available in LinkedIn for many professionals, MctIBIS provides linkages to LinkedIn so that users can retrieve the contributors or participants profile from LinkedIn. User Interface Main Portal Dialogues can be posted against the area of interest. This is useful when there are many dialogues. Admin can add new area of interests. Contributors can add new dialogues. Dialogues have to be released by Admin. Two
dialogues showned.
Additional dialogues can be proposed. Main page of dialogue All entries must be tagged against one of the entry types. Reference materials can be
documents or web links.
Documents are stored in the
Document Filing system. Top 5 contributors shown.
Click heading to see all contributors Customizable subject headings.
Resources can be posted against one or more headings to allow the resources to be view from multiple perspectives.
Click "Subject Headings" to view complete tree. Admin functions Tab Pages for:
Focus areas
Entries listed chronologically
Entries listed based on recent entries. Admin and user functions Description of dialogue topic. Long entries truncated Expand button Collapse button Tree structure of entries The related entries are arranged as a tree structure with the indentation showing the relationships.
Any entry can be the root entry. Reference Documents Benefits View resources from various perspectives Focus areas
Any entry
Entry types
Reference Materials
Subject headings New participants can catch up on the deliberations.
Detection of weak signals.
Avoid venting and circular arguments through the structured approach.
Facilitate synthesis and reorganization of information. Sample Dialogues Summary MctIBIS:
Provides a structured framework -

Facilitates the application of collective intelligence and knowledge in tackling wicked problems i.e. Thinking together.
As a web-based application, removes the barriers of space and time. Issue map on "Brain Drain and Talent Retention In Malaysia" (http://bit.ly/s85gab) Current Developments For more information please contact
December 2011 We are currently in the process of testing the system with real live problems and we are looking for collaborators. The Impact of Climate Change on Water-Related Issues (http://bit.ly/pLFohc) Issue map on "How Do We Foster An Environment That Inhibits Bribery and Corruption?" (http://bit.ly/rKfNSw) for framing the issues and documenting the deliberations,
for managing reference materials,
for organising the resources using the subject headings, Roles:
Contributors The key information of the entries should be provided in the first few lines of the entry. This will help readers to decide if they want to read the full version of the entry. (for tackling wicked problems) This probably satisfies the social needs but it is difficult to make sense of the discussions.
Comments have a tendency to be recycled as time goes on.
Flame wars can also erupt. About IBIS: http://bit.ly/nQq4PU Why this may not work for you One big barrier to the adoption of this platform is that people love their prejudices, which is why many problems are wicked. Multicentric Issue-Based Information System Browsing using FreeMind The Structure of IBIS-Type Systems IBIS-Type systems contain several subsystems:
Issue bank: file of living, settled or abandoned, and latent issues.
Evidence bank: file of factual questions and their answers,
Handbook: Collection of model problems
Topic list
Issue map: Representation of the various relations between issues, factual questions. Etc., by graphic display of the state of argument.
Documentation system: Search and analysis in view of living or latent issues and positions, descriptor index and thesaurus construction, regular scanning in view of the topic list.
(From Issues as elements of information systems, Horst Rittel, 1979, http://bit.ly/pcLQ8m) Essence of Tackling Wicked Problems Map entries/comments to the elements of IBIS (Issue, Fact, Position, Question, Idea, Solution, Support, Oppose) .
Put everything on the table – participants should be on the same wavelength.
Anything can be connected to anything.
The value of information depends on the way it is arranged; from the perspective of any contributor, entry/comment, reference material and subject headings.
Documentation of our thought processes.
Harness the collective intelligence of the community.
Use complex problem solving skills
Create shared understanding and awareness of the issues. There can be no final, optimal one-off solution to wicked problems and solutions are not truly good or bad but “best that can be done” on a continuing basis as new dimensions and inter-relationships emerge.
The purpose of the deliberation is more to document all the issues involved rather than to find immediate solutions as every solution will involve trade-offs.
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