Decision Making Methods Evolving and Generative Pattern Languages

How do we make better decisions – individually and collectively?  Are these methods evolving over time?

I was recently trying to recall a book I had read related to this topic – and my colleague David Ing helped me remember the book I was struggling to recall…

Mitroff II, Linstone HA (1995) The unbounded mind: Breaking the chains of traditional business thinking. Oxford University Press.


David also suggested a wealth of related readings, and we hope to discuss more the next time we have a meeting together….   A key  focus area for David Ing’s research these days is generative pattern languages…

David also wrote:

I’m onboard with your idea of service science + cognitive science for rapidly rebuilding evolution.

My approach for this would be to focus on generative pattern language — and I’m using “generative” in the sense that is compatible with your idea of “evolution”.  You might look at the October 30 theoretical work at , that supports the methodological work on the Dec. 2 lecture at .  There’s actually a lot of background work (particularly on architectural thinking) in the 200-page-plus dissertation I’m closing out.  This is all fresh research for me, so discussing in person ..; could be valuable …

I think that the book you’ve asked me to recall is Business Strategies for a Messy World:  Tools for Systemic Problem Solving, 2014, by Vince Barabba and Ian Mitroff, see .  The Toulmin Argumentation Schema aligns with the wicked problems and Issue-Based Information Systems (IBIS) from Horst Rittel.  The Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing (SAST) is Mitroff’s original extension of West Churchman’s The Design of Inquiring Systems.  …

In the systems thinking literature, I think that SAST is [too often] overlooked.  Ian Mitroff is a wealth of knowledge, and the author of 37 books.  …

If you’re going to be doing some reading, I have an alternative suggestion.  One of the major research contributions in my dissertation will be turning towards Tim Ingold, and his view on ecological anthropology.  He combines the mind and nature work of Gregory Bateson (which I think you like in Terrence Deacon) with ecological psychology of J.J. Gibson ([required for] a proper reading of affordances) with the social learning of Jean Lave (obviously popularized with Etienne Wenger).  Ingold is deep in philosophy, so much that I’ve been wending the distinctions he makes around Heidegger, Delueze, Latour and Jakob von Uexküll (who influenced Bateson … that’s the grandfather biologist at , not the grandson writer).

… Tim Ingold [was] keynote speaker at IFIP WG8.2 in Dublin.  See .  I got a greater appreciation for [his work and related work].  Steven Alter was at IFIP WG 8.2, too.  …

The two books from Tim Ingold that I’ve found most important are:

(1) Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description (2011) at

(2) The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill (2000) at

The two additional books that fill in some other ideas are:

(3) Lines: A Brief History (2007) at

(4) Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture at

[You can also] …watch him on Youtube and Vimeo.  If you search on Youtube and then change the filters to “upload date”, you’ll see an incredible number of recent lectures from a variety of venues.  I’ve just counted 13 uploads in the last 6 months.

With your interest in service systems and cognitive systems, one word that I would like to draw attention to from Tim Ingold is “alongside”.  This is dissolving the tacit-explicit distinctions of knowledge that are central in Nonaka’s knowledge cycle, coming from Polanyi.

[Also see] … Design of Inquiring Systems, complements to the book include:



I’ve now given you a lot to absorb.  Let me know if you find this direction interesting and productive.  Either way… we can have an opportunity to discuss.

In response to:

I am trying to re-focus these days on service science + cognitive science for rapidly rebuilding evolution…. less material, energy, time, space to create emergent structures… what is the speed limit of evolution? progress? type-thinking again….   think about a small robot machine that can easily rebuild itself, as well as create a population large enough so that they can collectively rebuild any machine and decision-making system know to our civilization…

HICSS presentation, and the paper it refers to is out there somewhere as well:

Our older paper:

The practical reason for this is to help students become better entrepreneurs – but the leap is so huge, I need to get some serious thinking time to make the connections more apparent…

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