Abstract for: Distributed Group Problem Solving

There are a multitude of “grand challenges” facing the United States, ranging from global climate change and energy needs to growing deficits and health care costs. The increasing urgency of these challenges brings into question the abilities of society to solve such complex problems. At the same time, the Internet and social media have come to provide unprecedented access to the millions of stakeholders. While this capability has helped facilitate changes as far reaching as the 2011 revolution in Egypt it is still unclear if it can be used as part of a broader constructive process. For grand challenges the process will need to be massively collaborative and yet well structured. This paper explores how system dynamics, combined with web technologies can provide both the workflow and framework required. A model-based approach is ideal because theories can be made more transparent and easily compared to real world data. To explore the concept of using the system dynamics methodology as part of a distributed group problem solving approach this paper also describes a work in progress demonstration web site. The site uses existing web applications to illustrate the necessary components for creating a problem solving process on a grand scale.