Three Action Realms
The position of the decision frame for an object system is indicated in the Extended Generic Activity Model (EGAM). The EGAM shows the reflective activities that influence the operations of an object system. Activities in the Monitoring and Evaluation realm (Interaction Dictionary) include the governance and measurement activities (orange). The governance activity defines the decision frame. A quantitative difference between objectives and performance data signals a problem to the operations management activity. In pull-based change, the governance or operations management activity will call upon the change management activity to analyse the problem of the object system and to create a new design (blueprint). The governance activity decides about the implementation and acquisition of new capability proposed in a management advice or governance advice (Change Realm (Interaction Dictionary link)).
Object System Life History
Let us now adopt the perspective of the object system (that performs the operations, part of the Operations Realm (Interaction Dictionary link)). The object system's governance, management, and analysis & design activities evolve over time. The notion of life history is concerned with what happens between the point in time that an entity or system is created, and the point in time at which it will vanish. GERA (Generic Enterprise Reference Architecture, Annex A to ISO FDIS 15704) proposes the following phases in the adaptive cycle in which the enterprise (or any object system is made to) copes with new necessities:
- Identification: This is the set of activities that identify the new problem (or opportunity) (this could be done by the governance activity, the operations or change management activity).
- Three phases are part of EGAM's analysis and design activity:
- Concept: The set of activities that are needed to develop the new concepts of the entity.
- Requirements: The activities needed to develop descriptions of the new requirements (additional requirements).
- Design: The activities needed to extend the specification of the entity (extended model).
- Implementation: The activities that define the new tasks, which must be carried out to re-build the entity (this is covered by the intervention activity)
- Operation: The object system works according to the new model (prior blueprint).
Decision frame is defined in the Entity Dictionary.
Collective Decision Frame
In a group, the collective decision frame is the decision frame that is shared by all its members (see also: Collective decision frame (Entity Dictionary).
Examples of groups include the United Nations and its member states using human rights decision frame in the Universal Periodic Review (Interaction Dictionary page), an industry association and its member companies, a company and its employees, a country and its citizens, a soccer team and its players.
Why explicit Collective Decision Frames?
In any socio-technical group it is valuable to provide authentic and accessible representations of the collective decision frame.
Where different actors — depicted are macro, micro and pico-level actors —walk through an adaptive cycle (AC), respectively Society AC (with sub-activities S-identification, S_I: Identification for Societal level), etc., Enterprise AC and Person AC, each makes use of the (planning) artefacts including a decision frame (which could be more or less explicit). For what concerns the decision frame and the system architectures, the asset alignment activity for the society, enterprises and persons (S_E_P_asset_alignment) could ensure that each actor has a low hurdle access to what it needs to know for its constraints-compliant operations. In the society blueprint, all relevant available (accessible) assets can be easily accessed during each adaptive cycle .
Collective versus Individual ?
In competitive eco-systems, collective action failure is often observed.
What implications would the society blueprint and the introduction of collective decision frames have on the trade-off between individual and collective action?
When decomposing the adaptive cycle of multiple coexisting object systems in accordance with the three realms of operations, change, and monitoring & evaluation (see the figure on road map), each realm is a locus where the desirability of collective and individual action could be evaluated.
… in the Operations Realm?
Excessive collective action in the Operations Realm (Interaction Dictionary link) harms competitiveness, innovation and creativity. The decision monopoly that is characteristic of government or any other collective decision making has a tendency to harm diversity and accumulate more operational tasks than is optimal. This is a major concern of free market advocates. In the operations realm, individual action and its aggregation in competitive firms tends to yield progressive outcomes.
… in the Monitoring and Evaluation Realm?
In the monitoring and evaluation realm (Interaction Dictionary link), too little collective action would increase costs of roundabout activities while reducing the diffusion of best practices: if peers measure different properties and performances, how could investments be allocated efficiently, or how could they practice benchmarking? And how to avoid that competitive pressures on price harm quality and service levels? In the monitoring and evaluation realm important synergies can be achieved by collective approaches.
… in the Change Realm?
In the change realm (Interaction Dictionary link), for interventions in the object system, individual action must be relied upon; on the other hand, when common problems are at the origin of the analysis and design activities, or when analysis and design make use of much prior knowledge, then collaborative approaches are suitable as well (or recommended).
Considering that increasingly complex socio-technical human activities are situated in a biophysical environment that is both vulnerable and threathening: If each actor would individually identify, use and modify decision frames and perform all related MRV and analysis and design activities, then an enormous amount of time and effort would be spent in the reflective activities (governance, management, MRV, and analysis and design) at the expense of achieving the desired outcomes of the operations.
Common Organizing Principles: Hierarchy and Subsidiarity
As pointed out by Hartmut Bossel [3, pages 21-22] the viability of subsystems and the total system requires the efficient organization of subsystem functions and interactions. Two common organizing principles are hierarchy1 and subsidiarity.2
The Competitive Action & Collective Reflection Principle
Contrasting operations, the real action, with reflective activities, called here reflection, then a society-wide architectural conjecture is proposed:
- hierarchy and autonomy are the dominant organizing principle in the operations, including the interventions in the object system; which justifies competitive action and
- subsidiarity and the interdependencies that it relies upon, must be emphasized in reflection, this is in monitoring and evaluation, and in analysis and design that focuses on common problems, which justifies collective reflection.
Applying Collective Decision Frames
The foundation for elaborating, testing and implementing the Competitive Action and Collective Reflection (CACR) principle lies in the sharing of items among the various decision frames that (decision centres of) subsystems use during their adaptive cycles. The concept of a collective decision frame supports this idea. Indicator and constraints dictionaries form a basis for collective decision frames. Some level of sharing of decision frames is necessary in industry and society.
Interdependencies among the reflective activities of multiple object systems (subsystems) will be much more elaborate than in their operations.3 The higher interdependency degree that is typical of interdependencies in models might justify dedicated institutional instruments, as indicated in the Institutional Gaps section of Collaborative Diagnostics (after all, reflective activities have foremost a knowledge conversion4 nature).
Collective decision frames and shared performance data, then, are an area where the knowledge provide failure explained for Knowledge Markets is most harmful. The knowledge work is too expensive, and the "reform" messages that are produced for the stakeholders of the object system (operations) are confused and often ineffective.