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Challenging Problems versus IT

So far, cheap computing, communications devices, networks and e-mail have simply accelerated decisions about the routine works. There still are some challenging problems, which cannot be solved by current advances in IT. This is because the needed competence set of a challenging problem is unknown or only partially known. For example, most management information systems are still built on accounting data, which lead managers to continue to be consumed with what they already know a lot about: costs. However, they should focus much more on challenging and difficult problem on the creation of value.

But such systems cannot give managers enough information about market conditions so that they have the courage to act. also it cannot give managers a sense of how people are really doing. Managers need to know what people are going through and experiencing if they want to be their effective leaders. Let us take a look at the following example. Example 2 Alinsky’s Strategy (adapted from Alinsky, 1) During the days of the Johnson-Goldwater campaign, commitments that were made by city authorities to the Woodlawn ghetto organization of Chicago were not being met. The organization was powerless.

As the organization was already committed to support the Democratic administration, the president’s campaign did not bring them any help. Alinsky, a great social movement leader, came up with a unique solvable situation. He would mobilize a large number of supporters to legally line up and occupy all the restroom facilities of the busy O’Hare Airport. Imagine the chaotic situation of disruption and frustration that occurred when thousands of passengers who were hydraulically loaded (very high level of charge) rushed for restroom but could not find the facility to relieve the charge.

How embarrassing when the newspaper and media around the world headlined and dramatized the situation. The supporters were extremely enthusiastic about the project, sensing the sweetness of revenge against the City. The threat of this tactic was leaked to the administration, and within forty-eight hours the Woodlawn Organization was meeting with the city authorities, and the problem was of course, solved graciously with each player releasing a charge and claiming a victory. The above example shows us that in the real decision situation, the decision elements, including players, criteria, and alternatives are not _x.

that is, they are dynamic. If we reframe the decision situation, then probably the decision problem can be solved with all players feeling that they are winners. Innovative research and development problems that challenge the existing technical assumptions, market restructuring problems, complex conflict resolution problems and management of traumatic disasters are some examples of challenging problems. Challenging problems can be solved only by expanding and restructuring our habitual domains and competence sets.

IT can help the speed of expansion and restructuring of challenging problems when they are properly decomposed into a sequence of routine problems and/or fuzzy problems. In addition, IT can help the decision maker to retrieve relevant information so as to expand his/her reachable domains to help solving the problems. Each IT product or service may be regarded as a competence set, which can relieve the pains, charges, frustrations, and inconvenience for people who need it. For example, the product of Palm computer provides telephone directory, scheduling, notes, calculator, etc.

Each of them provides a competence set to help the decision maker to cope with the daily problems including routine, fuzzy and challenging problem. Competence Set Analysis and Information Technology Almost all complex and challenging problems are involved with uncertainty (related probability distributions over a known sample space are known), fuzziness (related sample space is known but probability distributions are just fuzzily known), and unknown (the sample space is unknown. decision alternatives and their outcomes are to be explored and subjected to changes).

The fuzziness and unknown can be due to our ignorance, illusion, or wishful thinking, which are especially probable in the current rapid changes of technology, reengineering of management, innovative marketing, etc. To deal with the fuzziness and unknown, which resulted in challenging problems, we must expand our competence set. As mentioned earlier, a competence can be regarded as the collection of knowledge, skills, operation know-how, resources, information, attitude that are related to the ability to effectively solve the problems. In the following, we will first discuss the impacts of IT on competence set.

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