Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 18

The purpose of a
policy flight simulator
is to enable decision
makers to "fly the
future before they
write the check."

redesign, discussion inevitably
moves to the question of how to
validate the model's predictions.
As these predictions inherently
concern organizational systems that do not yet exist, validation is limited to discussing believability of the
insights emerging from debates about the nature and
causes of model outputs. In some cases, deficiencies of
the models will be uncovered, but occasionally unexpected higher-order and unintended consequences make
complete sense and become issues of serious discussion.
Model-based policy flight simulators are often used to
explore a wide range of ideas. It is quite common for one
or more stakeholders to have bright ideas that have substantially negative consequences. People typically
arrange many alternative organizational designs, interactively explore their consequences, and develop criteria
for the merit of an idea. A common criterion is the assurance that no major stakeholder can lose in a substantial
way. For our health-care delivery simulators, this rule
was able to pare the feasible set from hundreds of thousands of configurations to a few hundred [5].
Policy flight simulators serve as boundary-spanning
mechanisms across domains, disciplines,
and beyond initial problem formulations,
which are all too often more tightly
bounded than warranted. Such boundary
Social Phenomena
spanning can externalize arguments
(Cities, Firms, Organizations)
among stakeholders. The alternative perspectives are represented by underlying
Values, Norms, Politics,
Economic and Social Returns
assumptions and the elements that comand Economic Incentives
and Competitive Advantages
pose the graphically depicted model proEconomic Phenomena
jected on the large screen. The debate
(Macro- and Microeconomics)
then focuses on the screen rather than
being an argument between two or more
Economic Investments in
Physical, Economic, and
Competitive Physical
people across a table.
Social Consequences

◆ agreeing on feasible solutions

and the relative merits and
benefits of each one.
The discussions associated
with performing the above tasks tend to be quite rich. Initial interactions focus on agreeing on objectives, which
includes output measures of interest, including units of
measure. This often unearths differing perspectives
among stakeholders. Attention then moves to discussions
of the phenomena affecting the measures of interest,
including relationships among phenomena. Component
models are needed for these phenomena, and agreeing on
suitable vetted, and hopefully off-the-shelf, models
occurs at this time. Also of great importance are uncertainties associated with these phenomena, including both
structural and parametric uncertainties.
As computational versions of models are developed
and demonstrated, discussions center on the extent to
which model responses align with expectations. The
overall goal is to computationally redesign the enterprise. However, the initial goal is to replicate the existing
organization to see if the model predicts the results actually being currently achieved. Once attention shifts to

Capacities

Physical Phenomena
(Physics, Processes, Flows)
Physical Infrastructure,
Capabilities, and Information

Decisions, Behaviors,
and Performance

Human Phenomena
(Individuals, Teams, Groups)

Figure 1. multilevel architecture of public-private enterprises.
18

IEEE SyStEmS, man, & CybErnEtICS magazInE October 2015

Research Issues
Policy flight simulators meet a need for
interdisciplinary teams to be supported
when they explore "what if" questions,
look for insights, and attempt to reach consensus on how to move forward. We would
like policy flight simulators to provide
valid representations of the phenomena of
interest. This issue has been explored in
depth in [6] and [7]. One concern is how



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
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Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover3
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