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19 June 2009 | Draft

Reframing Strategic Dilemmas through 12 Modes

Commentary and checklist of documents

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Introduction
Insight capture and integration technology
Symbolism, metaphor, myth and story-telling
Pattern language, as variously evident through the different senses
Transformative dialogue, meetings and strategies
Creative agreements and business models
Design of complex structures
Appropriate technology
Simulation, role playing and gaming
Self-reflexive organizations and initiatives
Paradoxical and negative strategies
Dynamics and emergent order
Rhythm, poetry, music, song and dance


Annex to Reframing the Game of Strategic Dilemmas a 12-fold interplay of possibilities of otherwise (2009)


Introduction

The purpose of this document is to point to resources enabling challenging strategic dilemmas to be reframed. The exercise here in clustering options builds on Governing Civilization through Civilizing Governance: global challenge for a turbulent future (2008) and on Enabling Strategies for Viable Futures (2009).

The emphasis explored in the main paper (Reframing the Game of Strategic Dilemmas a 12-fold interplay of possibilities of otherwise, 2009) is on the possibility of a dynamic reframing rather than a static, structural reframing of dilemmas -- notably in the light of insights from the dynamics of complex systems appropriate to the expected turbulence of the future (Human Values as Strange Attractors: coevolution of classes of governance principles, 1993).

The following sections expand the indications provided by their labels in the diagram in the main paper (which links to them). The content below is intended to be indicative only. Papers on this site are cited to give a sense of the variety of themes under which the domain may be explored. The question of how to work with such an array of possibilities is discussed above.

The argument here might be most succinctly stated (as articulated below) in terms of the need for a system of insight capture, encompasing current creativity, emergent insight in the future, and that embedded in the "wisdom literature" of the past. The case made is for a global WikiStrategies, WikiSolutions -- or perhaps a WikiInsight. On the basis of such a system of insight capture many experimental applications could be developed to cluster included options into arrays evoking different styles of engagement consistent with different modes of knowing.

Insight capture and integration technology

Designing open processes for gathering, configuring and disseminating insight -- in anticipation of it proving valuable or inb eliciting further insights which may be of greater value. Implementing and assessing "wisdom" and innovation gathering systems (eg a strategic Wikipedia):

The challenge has been specifically discussed in relation to proposals for some form of Wikistrategies or Wikisolutions (Global Solutions Wiki, 2009) as a means of responding to contraints on envisaging viable strategies (Considering All the Strategic Options: whilst ignoring alternatives and disclaiming cognitive protectionism, 2009; Participative Development Process for Singable Declarations: Applying the Wikipedia-Wikimedia-WikiMusic concept to constitutions, 2006).

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, such technology could well pay explicit attention to how seemingly contradictory initiatives can be suitably juxtaposed to highlight complementarity or to evoke reflection on the nature of any potential complementarity -- as much through dynamic relationships as through static configurations. Of special interest is the challenge of interrelating aphorisms and succinctly phrased insights from the "wisdom literature". Also of interest is the learning implications of engaging with such a collection, notably in determining point of entry and fruitful navigation pathways (Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement, 2002).

Symbolism, metaphor, myth and story-telling

Namely the capacity of the human mind to seek out and value the coherence carried succinctly through such vehicles, as noted by Karen Armstrong (A Short History of Myth, 2005). Given the importance attached to symbols in relation to collective identity and promotion of initiatives, the challenge is to discover more powerful symbols and to interrelate those currently valued.

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, these are typically implicit in such vehicles and the dynamics through which they relate to one another (Metaphors as Transdisciplinary Vehicles of the Future, 1991).

Pattern language, as variously evident through the different senses

Pattern languages provide an enriching vocabulary of semantically meaningful concepts -- each a pattern of elements in themselves and yet each combinable with others. Certain patterns are intuitively recognised and predictable, they appear wholesome, they' have a quality, impossible to define, yet experienced and understood deep in the collective consciousness of the human race. The challenge is to identify richer and more powerful pattern languages on whatever sense, or combination of senses, they are based.

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, a pattern language provides a context within which contrasting perspectives may be juxtaposed in terms of their complementarity. A polysensorial approach enables a move out of the trap of thinking reinforced by the mono-sensual "vision" metaphor, so typical of conventional strategic thinking (Metaphor and the Language of Futures, 1992). It opens the possibility of forms of engagement and embodiment which bridge across the cognitive abyss between strategic optionsd.

Transformative dialogue, meetings and strategies

With respect to organizational architecture, there is a desperate need for some strategic and institutional "Platonic solids" to emerge credibly and sustainably from any Socratic dialogue process. It is possible that it is the very dynamic of such dialogue, as a complex system involving many sides, which engenders such solids as a form of standing wave pattern. Design of systems whose viability benefits from the variety of intractable differences; identification of the variety of games as potential systemic attractors (and distractors); development of a continuing series of experimental dialogues (bringing together the wise and the model/solution advocates) and evaluating the dynamics of such gatherings and the degree to which lessons are integratewd into the models of the wise.

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, dialogue offers the possibility of "designing in" otherness and disagreement beyond comfort zones (rather than harmonising it "out"). It may well be that the long conventional pursuit of "consensus", "reconciliation", and Getting to Yes precludes the possible emergence of structures based on incommensurability. The latter is more characteristic of real-world intractable situations where the outcome of current dialogue is typically "feel good" tokenism of little concrete consequence.

Creative agreements and business models

Such possibilities continue to be demonstrated through a wide variety of innovative local initiatives and open source projects. The challenge is to enable a systematic exploration of such possibilities and to anchor them in new forms of contract and accounting system.

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, neural networks are now being used to detect unusual strategies, as discussed by David E. Moriarty and Risto Miikkulainen (Discovering Complex Othello Strategies through Evolutionary Neural Networks, 2000). They argue that their approach could also be used to find new strategies and heuristics in other domains including planning. Hendrik Moraal (Counterintuitive behaviour in games based on spin models, 2000) has shown that mixing of two losing strategies may lead to a winning one, but also that the mixing of two winning ones may lead to a loss. Mixing of a losing and a winning strategy may give unexpected results.

Design of complex structures

Identifying structures of requisite complexity and coherence, and ensuring their emergence, especially those in which intractable differences and incommensurabilities are designed in rather than out. Of particular interest, it should be recalled that Plato is known to geometricians for his association with Platonic solids which only take form in three dimensions (as opposed to two) -- and when more than three sides are presented and appropriately configured. Many of them have many more sides and the configurations are quite complex -- although aesthetically and intuitively appealing. Arguably there is a challenge to escape from "strategic flatland" into the third dimension (at least). With the complementary Archimedean solids, the two series together suggest a periodic table of institutional and strategic opportunities that call for exploration -- where "sides" are indicative of distinct (if not commensurable) strategic perspectives. More generally, including forms of more than three dimensions, this institutional architectural repertoire includes the regular polytopes. There may indeed be a case for geodesic institutional and cognitive structures -- as implied by arguments of R. Buckminster Fuller (Synergetics: explorations in the geometry of thinking, 1975/1979).

Implementing information systems to enable such structures to emerge and develop as appropriate; application in support of face-to-face and virtual assemblies of "static" and "non-static" actors. Design of electronic protocols that would catalyze the emergence of "Platonic solid" configurations from the amorphousness of "social networking" and "networks of excellence", as partially envisaged by management cybernetician Stafford Beer (Beyond Dispute: the invention of team syntegrity, 1994).

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, to the extent that these are typically represented in terms of "polarization", or as "pillars", "stakes" or even "sides", the shift beyond these simplisitic architectural metaphors into three dimensional configurations opens up a richer array of possibilities.

Appropriate technology

The web environment has enabled and made evident a wide variety of supportive uses of technology, notably in local environments.

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, such technology may be used to juxtapose seemingly incommensurable initiatives and to give form to configurations that render them both comprehensible and viable. In a sense the technology ensures both the emergence of new designs and indicates how their coherence can be ensured in an electronic environment through appropriate information protocols.

Simulation, role playing and gaming

Designing simulations to elicit (unconventional) options, associating them with openly accessible, attractive gaming to elicit cognitive entrainment; learnings from the successes and failures of "peace games" and "war games" in enabling constructive rather than purely destructive or exploitative outcomes (notably reminiscent of imperial/colonial historical patterns); development of intelligent agent-based simulations; exploration of enabling simulations for emergence of more complex memetic and social structures (beyond the constraints exemplfied by simplistic and negative prefixes). Dissemination of insightful, interactive gaming and pattern emergence; adaptation of virtual stock portfolio practices (as promoted by some banks as learning devices for clients) to enable exploration of governance options

The challenge of exploring alternative options is illustrated by the need to respond to increasing voter apathy. This has been well-illustrated by the 43% turnout for the 2009 elections to the European Parliament -- effectively undermining the legitimacy of that institution. The possibility for simulating the communication challenges and possibilities has been discussed separately (Simulation of communication challenges in democracy and strategy formulation, 2009; Frédéric Amblard. Simulating Social Networks: a review of three books. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 2003)

In this respect it is appropriate to note the development of the Joint Simulation System initiated in 1995 (Kari Pugh and Collie Johnson, Building a Simulation World to Match the Real World; The Joint Simulation System, January-February 1999, p.2; James W. Hollenbach and William L. Alexander, Executing the DOD Modelling and Simulation Strategy: making simulation systems of systems a reality, 1997). This has seemingly now morphed, via the Total Information Awareness program, into the Sentient World Simulation (SWS) and will be a "synthetic mirror of the real world with automated continuous calibration with respect to current real-world information" with a node representing "every man, woman and child". It would however seem to avoid providing a node for every perceived problem, insight, advocated strategy, or value (Simulating a Global Brain: using networks of international organizations, world problems, strategies, and values, 2001).

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, of special interest is the possible exploration of their dynamic resolution. Whereas games and game theory typically focuses on winner and losers (as in any board game), the question is whether a degree of stability and coherence can emerge from the dynamics between them rather than the elimination of one or the other. This has been remarkably explored by James P. Carse (Finite and Infinite Games, 1992). This is best illustrated by the contrast between chess (or go) and a dance. In the latter case it is clearly ridiculous for one partner to triumph over the other to ensure the elimination of one. It is the dynamics of the dance that the interest lies and which is the guarantee of sustainability. This is evident in the continuing enthusiasm for players of games to re-encounter each other. But this dynamic is not built into the game itself. One possibility has been explored as Strategic Jousting through Poetic Wrestling: aesthetic reframing of the clash of civilizations (2009)

Self-reflexive organizations and initiatives

Identifying the conceptual challenges of cognitive embodiment of "external" reality and its role in psycho-social sustainability -- notably engagement with any "other". Recognition, design and implementation of strategies that effectively mirror their environment

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, the dynamics of the cognitive encounter with a potentially threatening "other" are fruitfully explored from a strategic perspective through bullfighting as a metaphor (Viable Global Governance through Bullfighting: challenge of transcendence, 2009).

Paradoxical and negative strategies

Cognitive vigilance and critical thinking appropriate to detection of vital insights readily suppressed by spin and advocacy of positive thinking (Credibility Crunch engendered by Hope-mongering: "Credit crunch" focus as symptom of a dangerous mindset, 2008). Develop processes for reframing assumptions and ensuring the emergence of challenging and problematic perspectives, notably those associated with the "unsaid" or the "unasked" and "nasty" questions:

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, the focus of this cluster is to challenge comfort zones and habitual responses, especially when there is a long track record of their inadequacy to an increasingly turbulent context. This might be understood as a contrarian strategic equivalent of appreciative inquiry, exemplified by Liberating Provocations: use of negative and paradoxical strategies (2005). It might also be understood as the "requirement for embracing error" identified as critical by Donald Michael (On Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn, 1973) -- perhaps even to the degree of appreciating the challenges that humanity has engendered (Celebrating the Value of Deadly Problems Worldwide, 2008). As noted above, this is partly enabled by considering the cognitive encounter with a potentially threatening "other" through bullfighting as a metaphor (Viable Global Governance through Bullfighting: challenge of transcendence, 2009).

Dynamics and emergent order

Exploring unforeseen potentials of complex dynamics of non-linear systems involving multiple actors. Implementing information systems to enable such sustainable structures to emerge and develop as appropriate

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, as mentioned (above) in the case of gaming, of special interest is the possible exploration of their dynamic resolution. In the light of increasing understanding of complex systems, it becomes possible to build organization on processes as much as on static structures (Consciously Self-reflexive Global Initiatives: Renaissance zones, complex adaptive systems, and third order organizations, 2007).

Rhythm, poetry, music, song and dance

Use of aesthetic insights, disciplines and appeal to reframe strategic concord and discord in richer forms of harmony:

With respect to reframing strategic dilemmas, many aesthetic disciplines have long developed ways of interrelating contrasts, notably through complementarity and allowing for their development over time as in a piece of music or a drama. Of particular interest are the resonances across any such work, both in developing a structure of a higher order of complexity, embedding relevant "feedback loops" essential to its coherence, and rendering it memorable as a whole.

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