Problem structuring: on the nature of, and reaching agreement about, goals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this paper, we raise issues about discovering and modelling purpose that, in our view, can often be missed within operational research practice. We suggest that, in problem solving, there is a danger of taking too little account of: the differences between espoused goals and goals-in-use; the potentially misleading nature of published goals; goals that express the need to avoid outcomes—‘negative goals’; the meaning of goals in an action context rather than the semantics of goal statements; the dynamics and clarity implied by goal relationships; the potential that derives from multi-organisational settings where goals that express an outcome that can only be achieved collaboratively; stakeholder responses to expressed goals—that good solutions can be sabotaged by others; the fact that some goals are contextually important but not a focus for problem solving because they are ‘not-our-core-goals’; and the need to design ambiguity of purpose in expressing goals systems. These issues are illustrated through a number of real case examples drawn from engineering, Police, NHS, a Research Institute, and a Utility company/Regulator setting.
LanguageEnglish
Pages7-28
Number of pages22
JournalEURO Journal on Decision Processes
Volume1
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Fingerprint

research practice
research facility
police
stakeholder
semantics
engineering

Keywords

  • decision processes
  • goals
  • operational research
  • management science

Cite this

@article{4e88266eb3064dab82f2d8839b78b350,
title = "Problem structuring: on the nature of, and reaching agreement about, goals",
abstract = "In this paper, we raise issues about discovering and modelling purpose that, in our view, can often be missed within operational research practice. We suggest that, in problem solving, there is a danger of taking too little account of: the differences between espoused goals and goals-in-use; the potentially misleading nature of published goals; goals that express the need to avoid outcomes—‘negative goals’; the meaning of goals in an action context rather than the semantics of goal statements; the dynamics and clarity implied by goal relationships; the potential that derives from multi-organisational settings where goals that express an outcome that can only be achieved collaboratively; stakeholder responses to expressed goals—that good solutions can be sabotaged by others; the fact that some goals are contextually important but not a focus for problem solving because they are ‘not-our-core-goals’; and the need to design ambiguity of purpose in expressing goals systems. These issues are illustrated through a number of real case examples drawn from engineering, Police, NHS, a Research Institute, and a Utility company/Regulator setting.",
keywords = "decision processes, goals, operational research, management science",
author = "Colin Eden and Fran Ackermann",
year = "2013",
month = "6",
doi = "10.1007/s40070-013-0005-6",
language = "English",
volume = "1",
pages = "7--28",
journal = "EURO Journal on Decision Processes",
issn = "2193-9438",
publisher = "Springer Berlin",
number = "1-2",

}

Problem structuring : on the nature of, and reaching agreement about, goals. / Eden, Colin; Ackermann, Fran.

In: EURO Journal on Decision Processes, Vol. 1, No. 1-2, 06.2013, p. 7-28.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Problem structuring

T2 - EURO Journal on Decision Processes

AU - Eden, Colin

AU - Ackermann, Fran

PY - 2013/6

Y1 - 2013/6

N2 - In this paper, we raise issues about discovering and modelling purpose that, in our view, can often be missed within operational research practice. We suggest that, in problem solving, there is a danger of taking too little account of: the differences between espoused goals and goals-in-use; the potentially misleading nature of published goals; goals that express the need to avoid outcomes—‘negative goals’; the meaning of goals in an action context rather than the semantics of goal statements; the dynamics and clarity implied by goal relationships; the potential that derives from multi-organisational settings where goals that express an outcome that can only be achieved collaboratively; stakeholder responses to expressed goals—that good solutions can be sabotaged by others; the fact that some goals are contextually important but not a focus for problem solving because they are ‘not-our-core-goals’; and the need to design ambiguity of purpose in expressing goals systems. These issues are illustrated through a number of real case examples drawn from engineering, Police, NHS, a Research Institute, and a Utility company/Regulator setting.

AB - In this paper, we raise issues about discovering and modelling purpose that, in our view, can often be missed within operational research practice. We suggest that, in problem solving, there is a danger of taking too little account of: the differences between espoused goals and goals-in-use; the potentially misleading nature of published goals; goals that express the need to avoid outcomes—‘negative goals’; the meaning of goals in an action context rather than the semantics of goal statements; the dynamics and clarity implied by goal relationships; the potential that derives from multi-organisational settings where goals that express an outcome that can only be achieved collaboratively; stakeholder responses to expressed goals—that good solutions can be sabotaged by others; the fact that some goals are contextually important but not a focus for problem solving because they are ‘not-our-core-goals’; and the need to design ambiguity of purpose in expressing goals systems. These issues are illustrated through a number of real case examples drawn from engineering, Police, NHS, a Research Institute, and a Utility company/Regulator setting.

KW - decision processes

KW - goals

KW - operational research

KW - management science

UR - http://www.springer.com/business+%26+management/operations+research/journal/40070

U2 - 10.1007/s40070-013-0005-6

DO - 10.1007/s40070-013-0005-6

M3 - Article

VL - 1

SP - 7

EP - 28

JO - EURO Journal on Decision Processes

JF - EURO Journal on Decision Processes

SN - 2193-9438

IS - 1-2

ER -