CSD 531: Science of Generic Systems Design


CSD531: Science of Generic Systems Design


The Mediterranean Graduate School of Applied Social Cognition




Kevin M. C. Dye


Spring 2014


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         i. Course Description

The course will be based on Warfield’s pioneering work on developing the science of generic systems design. Program planning begins with problem definition and ends with planning for action. The key products that result from the problem definition, value system design and system synthesis steps are discussed and interrelated though the use of interaction matrices.

Topics will include: Unified Program Planning; Participative Methodology for Public System Planning; Improving Behavior in Policymaking; Societal Systems: Planning, Policy and Complexity; The Interface Between Models and Policymakers; Priority Structures; Socio-technical Modeling. Furthermore, participative methodology founded in graphics that can simultaneously involve many complex relations will be elaborated. Several graphic methods will be discussed, along with specific tools for graphic portrayal that have been designed with the communication requirements in mind. The course will identify complexity as a significant factor in modern society, one that calls attention to deficiencies in the way in which people try to work with complex problems, issues, and organizations. The idea of "system" will be introduced as an integrating factor around which a variety of concepts and methods can be congealed. The mathematics of system structure will be dealt with in detail, with extended discussions on Boolean algebra, sets, binary relations, matrices, digraphs, and transformations form one mathematical system to another. Methods for organizing knowledge through computer-assisted group activity will be presented, reflecting results of recent research.

ii. Course Objectives

What will they know, what will they be able to do, what will they value, what will they create as they progress through the course? This can be under bullets, listing, outlines, as detailed as you would like. Objectives should be specific rather than general, speaking to skills and performance rather than knowledge. Objectives should also be clearly measurable. Often, objectives use the phrasing “by the end of this course, students will be able to…”

The course is structured around four modes of interaction in Synchronous Meetings:


  • Case Studies
  • Example-Prompted Deliberations Informed by Readings
  • Collaborative Project Development
  • Storytelling about Specific SDD Case Experiences highlighting particular roles & situations


It will be the role of the course instructor and the participants to seek a distribution of time across Course Subject Areas through these modes of interaction.

By the end of the course participants should:

- Be facile with the details of at least one dozen case studies, previously unfamiliar to them, and be able to find reference cases within a database of a few hundred, for the purpose of supporting a team engaged in Case-Based Design and Design by Analogy for a new type of SDD Application, “beyond the Archetypes.”

-  Have one of their own case studies close to publication form by the end of the course.

-  Be able to converse with members in the broader SDD community about R&D Prospects discerning the difference between those innovations which are near versus far term and the amount of effort each may require at the practitioner level.

-  Deliver one project of their choosing as a group.

-  Feel a sense of identity, 'role trajectory', sense of mentors out there, and a shared experience with senior practitioners within the broader network of SDD Practitioners.

Case Studies
One in-depth case study will be presented at each synchronous class meeting. The course instructor will present and guide discussion about five cases. Course participants will prepare and deliver (at least) five cases, one case per participant. Case preparation includes filling in a Pro-Forma Presentation, Presenting the Case, Guiding Discussion About the Case, and Preparing a Pro Forma Case Study suitable, as a baseline, for publication. When possible we will use a particular case study to focus on a particular subject area.

Deliberation Preferred Over Lecturing

Where possible the course will be conducted using the Socratic Method, that is, by posing a series of "Triggering Questions" designed to promote deliberation amongst the course participants in conjunction with practitioners throughout the world using Social Media. The goal of the course lecturer will be to speak less than the least speaking participants.


While it is tempting to conduct an SDD session as a group project in this course we must remember that the purpose of this course is the advancement of SDD itself and its Community of Practitioners. Therefore, two types of projects are offered – “Development Projects” and “Research Projects”. “Development Projects” are judged to be methods, techniques, and technologies proven in other domains which are applicable to advancing the practice of SDD. “Research Projects” are judged to require quite a bit more initiative. Recommended projects are listed under the subject area which seems best at characterizing it.


Appreciate the experience of other practitioners by sharing stories of their 'interventions' via specific case studies in which they were involved on the facilitation team in from the perspective of their respective role in the case. When possible we will connect the class to non-course participants to share stories specific to the class's interest.

Course Subject Areas

Ten Subject Areas are Addressed in this Course. Course participants should be able to demonstrate some baseline competence at the beginning of the course which can be put on a trajectory to mastering a role they intend to play on SDD Facilitation Teams. The target allocation of class time per subject is indicated as a percentage of total synchronous class-time hours in the course. (They are listed roughly in the normal order of deployment except for #10 which usually comes before #4 but for which the rest of the course is necessary in order to enact.)


Mastering Facilitation Techniques



The Evolution of Support Roles



Enhancing the Stakeholder Preparation Phase



Nominal Group Technique






Interpretive Structural Modeling



Multi-Criteria Decision Making



SDD as an Evidence-Based Practice



SDD Community of Practice & Research



SDD Engagement Selection & Design


1                Mastering Facilitation Techniques (Face-to-Face & Online)

Every practitioner ought to be engaged in a personal and team-based Continuous Improvement Program regarding their facilitation skills and how they interact with the facilitator. While such training is not the primary topic of this course – the cultivation of detailed models of facilitation and implementation of improvement programs definitely is a subject of R&D for the SDD Community. A baseline of facilitation techniques are: “Master of Ceremony” Skills, Monitoring, Climate, Coaching, NGT Skills, ISM Skills, Pre-Workshop Visualization & Meditation, Motor Skills, Process Consultancy, and Framing.

    • Development Project: Personal Facilitation Technique Improvement Program
    • Development Project: Adapting Detailed Facilitation Techniques from Other Domains
    • Development Project: Create an SDD Technique-Specific Mentoring Network
    • Research Project: The Semiotics of Facilitation

2                The Evolution of Support Roles (Face-to-Face and Online)

Given the increasing use of technology in the overall intervention, of which SDD is part, as well as the boundary-spanning scope and increased scale of SDD related initiatives the number and type of roles continues to evolve. Furthermore, the coordination of roles must be explicitly considered in order to deliver a high-quality service. In addition, while some roles have long been identified, little is actually documented or evaluated about people's experience in those roles. Roles of concern include: Referral, Client, Sponsor, Broker, Participant, Observers, Advisors, Experts, , Workshop Planner, Lead Facilitator, Support Facilitators, ISM Pattern Interpretor, Amendment , Production Leader, Presentation Editor, Report Manager, Editor, SDD Software Operator, Observatorium Designer, Event Manager, A/V Technician, Multi-Media Coordinator, Voting Device Handler, Mic & Speakers Technician, Computer & Network Manager, Site Logistics, Setup, Hospitality, Videographer, Recorder, Archivist, Database Manager, Intellectual Property Manager, Project Website/Social Media Coordinator, Process Quality Evaluator, Glossary Manager, Text Analyst, Narrative Analyst, Public Relations, Writer, Journalist, Graphic Artist, Publications Work Process Manager.

  • Development Project: Technology Architecture & SDD Support Role Diagram
  • Development Project: An SDD Process Handbook
  • Research Project: The New Strategic Theory as a Communication Model for SDD

3                Enhancing the Stakeholder Preparation Phase

  • Stakeholder Identification Techniques
  • Stakeholder Analysis Techniques
  • Participant Group Design Techniques
  • Post-ISM Commitment Matrix
  • Development Project: Scopic Systems – The Marriage of Social Network Analysis and Interpretive Structural Modeling.
  • Group Process Dysfunctions
  • The NGT Evidence Base
  • Comparison to Other Idea Generation Methods
  • Development Topic: Voting Pattern Interpretation
  • Development Topic: Syntegration Social-Subject Geodesics – Beer/Josephson Algorithm
  • Research Project: Communal Discernment Processes
  • Research Project: Formulating Triggering Questions
  • Development Project: Group Concept Mapping – MDS & Hierarchical Cluster Analysis – Trochim
  • Development Project: Group Project Linguistics Using the Repertory Grid Technique – Gaines & Shaw
  • 'The Landscape & Roadmap” of Structural Modeling
  • “Logistical Tyrranies” - The Mathematics of Basic Structural Modeling
  • Application Structural Types
  • “Territorial Frameworks” - Knowledge Representation Schema
  • Development Project: Concept Mapping with CMAP - Novak
  • Research Project: ISM and SysML – The Emerging Standard for Systems Modeling
  • Tradeoff Analysis Method
  • Development Project: Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) - Saaty
  • Risk Management Case Study
    • Develop a working familiarity with the overall motifs of twelve case studies in Structured Dialogic Design / CogniScope / Interactive Management which may serve as analogies & examples for the practitioner in cultivating or designing a new application with a client.
    • Demonstrate the ability to measure key SDD Process & Product metrics and analyze them on specific case studies.
    • Demonstrate ability to conduct Exploratory Data Analysis on SDD Process and Product metrics across a range of cases.
    • Development Project: Advancing the Documentation of an SDD Case
    • Research Project: Identify indicators and measurement points in the SDD process of interest to and which would fulfill calls for Empirical-Basis of Deliberative Practices in the broader research community interested in Deliberative Democracy.
    • Become acquainted with practitioners in the Community of Practice by listening to their stories.
    • Establish an identity within the community by sharing their story. These stories will be accumulated in a publication 'volume' of “The Reflective Collaborative Design Practitioner”.
    • Explicitly cultivate a role for themselves within the SDD 'Community of Practice', “Community of Science” through one of the course projects.

4 Nominal Group Technique

5 Clustering

  • Development Project: Similarity Matrices – Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS), Krippendorf

6 Interpretive Structural Modeling

7 Multi-Criteria Decision Making

8 SDD as Evidence-Based Practice

8 - Advanced Topics: Philosophy of “Generic Systems Design Science”

  • Demonstrate ability to discuss the basis of the “Domain of Science Model” with a deep understanding and be able to critique it according to alternative views of what constitutes science.
  • Research Project: Collectively assess the “State of the Science” of Structured Dialogic Design. One model for such an assessment is the Capability Maturity Model.
  • Research Project: Advance scenarios for enhancing SDD's espoused Model-of- Science and Model-in-Action from the perspective of specific theories of Pluralism, Pragmatism, or Democracy.

The Community of Practice / Community of Science

  1. Course Prerequisites
  2. Course Credits
  3. Required Texts and Materials
  4. Supplementary (Optional) Texts and Materials
  5. Basis for Final Grade

Prospective students of this course should have experience with at least one workshop conducted according to the Structured Dialogic Design process and played at least one role on an SDD Facilitation Team or “Knowledge Management Team”.


(SoGD) Warfield, J. N., 1994. A Science of Generic Design: Managing Complexity through Systems Design. Iowa State Press.

(HIM) Warfield, J. N., Cardenas R. A., 1993/2002. The Handbook of Interactive Management, Iowa State Press.

(SS) Warfield, J. N., 1989, Societal Systems: Planning, Policy and Complexity, Intersystems Publications, Saliinas, California.

Full text citations of all required materials

Guidelines for achieving desired level of understanding

Required library/library-accessible resources can be described here

(Case Study #1) Dye, K.M.C., 1999, The National Patient Safety Foundation National Forum Model, Critical Design Inc..

(Case Study #2) Christakis, A.N., Conaway, D.S. and Bronfman, B. Anticipating Alternative National and Regional Futures in Energy Efficiency, World Futures, Volume 59, Issue 5, 2003, pages 335-360.

(Case Study #3) HIM Appendix 4 Case Study: Definition of Analytical


(Case Study #4) Dye, K, Flanagan, T, The Creative Economy of New Bedford,

(Case Study #5) Dye, K, Flanagan, T, The Future of Healthcare Assurance

(Case Study #6-#10) Presented by course participants

(DOSM 1) Warfield, JN, 1986. The Domain of Science Model: Evolution and Design, Proc. 30th Ann'l. Mtg., Society for General Systems Research, Salinas: Intersystems, 1986, H46-H59.

(DOSM 2) Warfield, JN, 1987. The Domain of Science Model: Extensions And Restrictions. George Mason University white paper, John N. Warfield Collection 35.14

(DOSM 3) SoGD Chapter 3

(DOSM 4) Christakis, A.N., Flanagan, T.R., Referential Transparency for Dialogic Design Science Institute for 21st Century Agoras

Christakis, A. N., 1987, Generic Design Science, Conference Paper, National Science Foundation Design Methods Conference.

Dye, K.M.C., 2014, Erroneous Priorities, Institute for 21st Century Agoras.

Dye, K.M.C., 2014, Collaborative Design Process Science, Institute for 21st Century Agoras.

(CDPSP) Dye, K.M.C., 2014, The Collaborative Design Process Science Practitioner, Institute for 21st Century Agoras.

Ozbekhan, Toward A General Theory of Planning.

Warfield, J.N., Perino, G. H., 1999 The Problematique: Evolution of an Idea, Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 16, 221–226

Provide a listing of assessments in the semester total.


Percent of Final Grade

Quizes #2-6


Case Study Presentation


Connecting Readings to Class Topics




Contribution to Practitioner Stories


Group Project




Course Structure

Class Sessions and Attendance

Attendance is mandatory. In case you need to miss a class session, please inform the instructor a week in advance (except in case of an emergency).

Class Schedule (13 teaching weeks per semester)

Each class will generally include the following elements:

-        A Progress Check (Quiz)

-        Deliberation about a Research Horizon

-        A Case Study or Sets of Case Studies

-        Project Discussions

-        Connecting the Readings to Class Topics

-        Sharing of Practitioner Stories

While the specific class schedule will largely be determined in a constructivist approach by the course participants an example of the class schedule is as follows.



Class topic

Class objectives




- Assessment/Diagnostic;

- Case Study #1 The Marriage of Social Network Analysis & Interpretive Structural Modeling;

- Course Overview;

- Course   Platform;

- Project Options;

- Practitioner Stories #1;

- Preview of Readings

- Demonstrate Mastery of the SDD Process Model,

- Preview the Syllabus, - Get 'Software Ready', - Select Projects,

- Share Stories

- Case Study #1 – National Patient Safety Foundation's Leadership Forum Model;

- SoGD Chapter 3 – A Domain of Science Model;

- HIM Chapter 1 - What is Interactive Management?;

- SS Chapter 2: The Nature of Collective Exploration;

- CDPSP, Chapter 1



- Quiz #2 on SNA & ISM

- Case Study #2

- Interpreting the Structure of Text for Interpretive Structural Modeling;

- Practitioner Stories #2

- Demonstrate ability to walk through the SNA implications of ISM Commitments

Case Study #2 - The Future of Energy Efficiency;

SoGD Chapter 4 – Managing Complexity through Systems Design;

HIM Chapter 14;

CDDSP Chapter 2



- Quiz #3 Interpreting Text Structure

- Use Case Study #3 to Focus on Product Metrics;

- MICMAC Analysis;

- Practitioner Stories #3


Case Study #3 – HIM Appendix 4 Definition of Analytical


Problematique: Evolution of an Idea



- Quiz #4 ISM Metrics

Use Case Studies Performance Data to Focus on Process Metrics;

Practitioner Stories #4


SoGD Appendix 5 Data from Applications



- Quiz #5 Process Metrics

- Structural Variety

Case Study #5

Practitioner Stories #5


- HIM Chapter 14 Comparing IM With Methods Widely Used

in Japan



- Quiz #6 TQM Using ISM

- Case Study #6

Practitioner Stories #6


SoGD Chapter 10 Applications of the Science



Case Study #7

Practitioner Stories #7






Case Study #8

Practitioner Stories #8






Case Study #9

Practitioner Stories #9






Case Study #10

Practitioner Stories #10






Case Study #11

Practitioner Stories #11






Case Study #12

Practitioner Stories #12






Case Study Review

Compilation of Practitioner Stories

Project Summary




Class Participation

In order for this learning experience to be beneficial and worthwhile reading of the assigned material, contribution to face-to-face and online discussions, and participation in all class activities is imperative. Conversations and ideas can grow if you don’t read the assigned material and/or contribute to the class discussions.

Grading Scale


Letter Grade

94 - 100


90 - 93


87 - 89


83 - 86


80 - 82


77 - 79


73 - 76


70 - 72


67 - 69


63 - 66


60 - 62


< 60