Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 17

Policy flight simulators are designed
for the purpose of
exploring alternative
management policies
at levels ranging
from individual
organizations to
national strategy.

and information. Physical phenomena (expressed by
physics), processes, and flows provide the infrastructure,
capabilities, and information while also being influenced
by human decisions, behaviors, and performance. Economic phenomena, both macroeconomic and microeconomic, underlie economic investments in competitive
physical capacities. This level also pays attention to physical, economic, and social consequences. The economic
level is responsible for investing in and managing everything, whereas the physical level operates and maintains
the processes that actually deliver capabilities. Social
phenomena include the values, norms, politics, and economic incentives devised and enforced by cities, firms,
and a wide range of organizations. These entities are concerned with economic and social returns as well as competitive advantages. Their intent is to foster the context
within which economic entities will invest to create the
physical capabilities that result in desirable human decisions, behaviors, and performance.
Policy Flight Simulators
Whether the context is education, sustainable energy,
health-care delivery, urban resilience, or national security, there are always many stakeholders in how issues are
addressed, framed, and resolved. Most of these stakeholders will not be technically educated; therefore, data,
statistics, and models will seem very esoteric to them.
Yet the resolution of problems requires their enthusiastic
support. This issue led us to develop large, interactive
visualizations of our models. As we have worked with
groups of senior decision makers and thought leaders
using these interactive visualizations, they have often
asked, "What do you call this thing?" I suggested "multilevel simulations," but I could tell from the polite responses that this did not really work. At some point, I
responded "policy flight simulator" and immediately
knew this was the right answer. Numerous people said,
"Ok, now I get it." This led to a tagline that was also well

received. The purpose of a policy flight simulator is to
enable decision makers to "fly the future before they
write the check."
Policy flight simulators are designed for the purpose
of exploring alternative management policies at levels
ranging from individual organizations to national strategy [3]. To develop policy flight simulators, we need to
computationally model the functioning of the complex
system of interest to enable decision makers, as well as
other significant stakeholders, to explore the possibilities and implications of transforming these enterprise
systems in fundamental ways. This pursuit always
starts with reference to the multilevel architecture pictured in Figure 1. The overall goal is to create organizational simulations that will ser ve as policy f light
simulators for interactive exploration by teams of, often
disparate, stakeholders who have inherent conflicts but
need and desire to agree upon a way forward [4].
People's Use of Simulators
There are eight tasks associated with creating and using
policy flight simulators:
◆ agreeing on objectives-the questions-for which the
simulator will be constructed
◆ formulating the multilevel model-the engine for the
simulator-including alternative representations and
approaches to parameterization
◆ designing a human-computer interface that includes
rich visualizations and associated controls for specifying scenarios
◆ iteratively developing, testing, and debugging, including identifying faulty thinking in formulating the model
◆ interactively exploring the impacts of ranges of parameters and consequences of various scenarios
◆ agreeing on rules for eliminating solutions that do not
make sense for one or more stakeholders
◆ defining the parameter surfaces of interest and "production" runs to map these surfaces
O c tob e r 2015

IEEE SyStEmS, man, & CybErnEtICS magazInE

17



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015

Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover1
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover2
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 1
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 2
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 3
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Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover3
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover4
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