Abstract for: A Decision Lab for Wicked Multi-stakeholder Problems

Local problems and global challenges can no longer be viewed and solved with the 17th century reductionist mind-sets and disciplinary sciences. In today’s interconnected, ever-changing and confused world, complex decision making requires engaging with multiple stakeholders representing diverse domains and competing interests, often under uncertain and adversarial conditions. Worse, systemic delays and feedback cycles embedded in complex systems muddle decisions and their anticipated outcomes, causing adverse unintended consequences. According to an Australian Public Commissioner “tackling wicked problems requires thinking that is capable of grasping the big picture, including the interrelationships among the full range of causal factors underlying them. They often require broader, more collaborative, and innovative approaches.” This workshop introduces a simple to use systems thinking modeling ‘lab’ for decision making in complex scenarios drawing from over three decades of working with business and government leaders around the world and more recently in UNESCO Biosphere projects in Asia Pacific. The workshop will start with an introduction to complex decision making and its hidden pitfalls; it then follows with three real-life case studies from around the world involving novice systems thinking participants. The workshop is interactive and will discuss scenarios and cases relevant to the participant.