DRAFT - under construction !

World Association for CASE METHOD RESEARCH AND CASE METHOD APPLICATION (WACRA-EUROPE) COMPLEX PROBLEM SOLVING Cognitive Psychological and Methodological Decision Support for Societal Policy Making

13th International WACRA Conference and 2nd International Conference on Methods for Complex Societal Problems (SMCP) Internationales Begegnungszentrum der Wissenschaft, Munich 17-19 June 1996

Situation Rooms - Situation Spaces Scales, Proportions, Patterns, and Consequences in Perspective

Heiner Benking FAW - Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing at the University Ulm, Germany
Communications Coordinator, THE CLUB OF BUDAPEST, Budapest, London
FAX: +49 731 501 929, benking@faw.uni-ulm.de

Global problems present a serious challenge for those who wish to marshall public awareness and mobilise decision making on pressing concerns. Complex and context- sensitive, global problems seem "less real" than local problems which we can, to some extent, observe and act upon. This paper presents a common image schema which enables observers world-wide to "see" and discuss patterns, structures, and relations. By embodying situations and metaphors displayed in this common image schema, issues such as quality, quantity, visibility, complexity can be addressed, as well as contextual nuances. Thus way we begin, as a global community, to "vision" and "speak" more clearly, as we meet and make our precious common future.

A "Situation-Rooms" may consist of a physical or conceptual "sand-box" for strategic manoeuvres and the ability to see, plan, share views and play, however serious the matter. We speak about "Situation-Spaces" as of a composite modular and interconnected reference realms to allow the location and exploration of "hidden dimensions". As we could learn from the recent Santa F workshop on modelling, complexity can be considered getting more and more perplexing the more we know (Scientific American). But how to develop and maintain a high stand in times of overloads of information with dubious quality and the insights into interconnectedness, fields and patterns we derive from systemic world-views. This proposal tries to takle the issue of overload and apathy stemming from missing positions and horizons. In contrast to belief systems, the approach invites to find ones positions and directions onself. Maybe the proposed picture is simple, cohesive and visible enough to provide overview and orientation. - The critical issue tackled her is the crisis of prevailing world-views and the avoidance of issues like objectivity and wholeness. To be sure, there is no other terrain, like Nature, and our maps or schemes are always falling short when trying to synthetizise or model complexity. Nevertheless, the question remains, can we design a practicable and simple layout to roughly structure and organise a multitude of dimensions, aspects, and facets. This paper attempts to outline exactly that, an open modular definition or reference scheme to provide orientation and help to structure and retrieve information about real and imaginary objects, subjects and their context, in one consistent model or organisation. The test is simplicity, consistency, co-existence, compatibility, correspondence and coherence with other models or explanation schemes, in no other way the needed acceptance from people from all strands of life could be hoped for. As there is multitude of the things we know, and even more of the things we do not know, or are unknowable, confusion increases with the growth of terminology's, and advanced multi-media and multi-cultural global communications. A missing "common grid" can be nothing less than interconnected higher-order knowledge bases matching the diversity and multi-dimensionality as good as possible and at the same time providing ways to see, remember and talk about issues, themes and their specific context or situation. This representation scaffolding, in short is based on space as the commonly understood lowest denominator to display open and complex issues. We all experienced and imagine spaces and relations and the proposal comprises an object space and a subject space, both connected via a context space. As also concepts are abstract we have to heave to have mixed qualities, real, abstract, synthetic, conceptual and imaginary. The Panorama space-scape (3Spaces/Time), as we call the landscape of what we know and miss, comprises of the physical landscape, a theme- or context-scape, and a semantic or word-scape. The author is very well aware that the proposal is embryonic and unorthodox. The basic elements are: 1. an artificial macroscopic view or overview, 2. a scaffolding bridging real and abstract domains, 3. the assimilation potential of visual access, 4. making use of spacial or object/room metaphors, 5. panoptic integration of positions, aspects, and facets. As this proposal is embryonic, maybe we can call it an "engineered" world-view making use of genuine capabilities of humankind, we would like to see this proposal questioned in detail or in general. Please see for further study and discussion some references attached:

Governance and Decision Support:
BENKING, H.: (1990) GLOBAL CHANGE exhibition on behalf of the WHITE HOUSE Conference on Global Change. Presenting the challenges to Science and Policy in the FEDERAL CHANCELLERY, Bonn. Beside contributions of text and graphics for some posters, a physical model, the BLACKBOX Nature was build to present scales, proportions, and consequnces in one exhibt with the objective to adress politicians, academia, industry, and primarily the public! - One result: Proposal to built such sub-model for climate research and communication. - (1994) Proposing a Conceptual Superstructure - A Work Report and a Vision to explore issue- scapes as virtual landscapes, FIG XX, Melbourne, this paper was a key-note on behalf of the Director Noel BROWN of UNEP in New York, to review the Callenges in Search for Policy with special emphasis on the AGENDA 21 and possible contributions of SCIENCE. The objectives to which the presented paper was to give a perspective, were to highlighted as an alternative path towards the Objectives and Challenges after the Earth Summit in Rio, or more to the point: ? establish common frames of reference, ? develop common understanding, ? common levels of co-operation and common strategies, ? mobilise best and brightest, ? harness capabilities, ? initiate more solid foundations for policies and strategies, gauge the human prospectus, .....