This reply reminds me of the old baseball double-play combo, Tinker to
Evers to Chance; but in this case it's Cox to McMaster to Warfield.
According to Mike M, Wayne raised some "questions for opening a dialog",
and Mike then began a dialog and closed by racing for a train and
challenging me to relate what he said to Interactive Management.
First, I agree with Mike's comments, and could elaborate on them by
referring to some people who also agreed in print.
The central focus of the prior remarks had to do with information,
decision-making, and survival of traditional managers.
Taking the last item first, some would say that the survival of
traditional managers is already destined to be beyond the possible, given
the information revolution and the increasing focus on complexity that
lies outside the scope of traditional managers (or anyone else, acting
For over 35 years, the indictment of H. A. Simon of business school
thinking that chose to strip decisionmaking away from anything upon which
it depended and reflected the love of numeracy and algorithms in deference
to anything else, has gone largely unanswered by the business schools and
the decision theorists.
It has not, however, gone unanswered by Warfield (me) who, in full
agreement with H. A. Simon's indictment, chose the larger sphere of
management as the focus of decisions, rather than the narrow sphere of
"decision science" and "the decisionmaker".
Even in their very early book in this field, Luce and Raiffa unabashedly
began with "Assumption 1", whereby it was assumed that the decisionmaker
already had in his or her mind a list of action alternatives and only
needed help to mathematize the list so that a numerical priority could be
computed; thereby turning over the whole thing to the computer, which was,
presumably, sustained by a computer technician.
That this rude, senseless model has continued enshrined to this day is the
Eight Wonder of the World.
But I digress. Interactive Management is a process designed to help
people cope with complexity, and to arrive a designed alternatives from
which a choice can be made. In the process the participants covertly
construct a language adequate to define decision possibilities, so that
when a decision is finally made, one knows what was decided.
Mike's description of the dialog giving way to accountability is perfect.
The idea of decisionmaker is not nearly as important as the idea of taking
responsibility for the decision. Whoever does that can consider himself
or herself to be very fortunate if they have had the benefit of some
Interactive Management work by well-informed individuals, who collectively
define, diagnose, and design alternatives, and in the process develop the
foundational portraits that guide the decision.
The term "final choice" is, I think the appropriate one here, because on
the way to that final choice many intermediate choices will have to be
made before quality alternatives become visible, at least in complex
situations, where decisions are really critical.
If we must specify the role of the manager, I will do so in this way: to
enable the necessary background work to be carried out participatively and
in a high quality non-ad-hoc system of collective effort; and after that
is finished, to thank the people who did the work and then face up to the
challenge, make the decision, and move on to the next agenda item.
-- JOHN WARFIELD Jwarfiel@gmu.edu