2012/04/02 EWG Meeting minutes
Chris F-D, Dave, Sean, Peter, Janos, Eleanor, Clive
1. Minutes from 30th March 2012 – approved.
2. Next meeting to be at Finsbury Square (13th April) – Eleanor to organise venue. 5-7pm (and
to confirm Jasper talk on Usury 1pm Tuesday 3rd April).
3. Mining protest 16th June in doubt. Difficult GA meeting on Saturday at St Pauls. First two
hours were fine and the money for the next week for Finsbury Square was approved. The
issue of money for the previous week was raised and it provoked further lively discussion.
Another GA to resolve things is due this week. Autonomy for each location ought to be
considered. Should EWG spend time discussing the future of occupy? Is this a temporary
hiatus or permanent decay? More likely the former. People need to disengage from the
stressful aspects. Need to give support to those who step away and show appreciation for
their contribution. We still have email contacts to pick up at some point in the future.
Occupy is more than a protest movement, it is an idea. EWG is a good group and there are
others. Corporations group is vibrant. Although the emphasis on process can be frustrating,
failure to adhere to process will result in conflict and hierarchies developing which is not
what occupy is about. Do we need an official policy on the olympic games? How about
highlighting human rights abuses in the countries of athletes. Indian government is
boycotting the opening ceremony because Dow Chemical which bought Union Carbide has
consistently failed to make redress for the Bhopal disaster of 1986. Countries agree to
comply with international rules on the games but not on finance. Fears of authorities
attempting to discredit occupy with false flag terrorism act and other means. Whatever
happens over the next few months, it was agreed that EWG will continue irrespective of the
future of occupy. Further, the weekly GA for working groups should be maintained.
4. Problem solving – Need to suspend assumptions and deal with base facts and build from
there. Different approaches: root cause analysis; agile software development; Umpleby.
Money situation: in the UK debt started to outrun available money in circulation in the early
1980s following the abolition of exchange controls. Economics was founded on early
science originally; while science has moved on, the basic presumptions of economics
haven’t changed. Umpelby says the observer is part of the dynamic. Theory affects reality
giving rise to self fulfilling prophecies. Eg. Need to pay down national debt to avoid being
attacked by speculators articulation of the fear gives rise to speculative attack. Economics is
reflective. “Pseudo science to justify b*ll*cks.” Social science is not dissimilar. Who is the
observer? In chaos theory one cannot know the initial state. The evolution of the economic
system is within historical living memory (eg. Merchant trade during the renaissance).
Confidence in markets is critical. Economic modelling is questionable? What is the major
problem: Distribution of wealth. Lack of trust. Finding the most reliable economic model.
Refer to “Necessary Revolution” – Peter Senge. Different personalities bring different
approaches to problem solving. All within the group/EWG ought to take a personality tests-
may by useful or at least amusing. It is not necessary to get to absolutes approximation is
good enough. If poverty is an outcome of the economic system, what is the cause? People
hoard beyond entitlement but what is entitlement? Basic religion offers guidance on
morality: seven deadly sins. Gordon Brown adopted the Presbyterian Prudence but forgot
everything else and abandoned prudence because of pride and other weaknesses. The
Quaker business people balanced success against avarice and recognised the value of social
good. The primary aim of RCA is to identify the factors that resulted in the nature, the
magnitude, the location, and the timing of the harmful outcomes (consequences) of one or
more past events in order to identify what behaviours, actions, inactions, or conditions need
to be changed to prevent recurrence of similar harmful outcomes and to identify the lessons
to be learned to promote the achievement of better consequences. (“Success” is defined as
the near-certain prevention of recurrence.)
To be effective, RCA must be performed systematically, usually as part of an investigation, with
conclusions and root causes identified backed up by documented evidence. Usually a team effort is
There may be more than one root cause for an event or a problem, the difficult part is demonstrate
persistence and sustain effort. Problem formulation is a big issue. Sequence of events (time-line) is
needed. Need to transform from reactive culture to being forward looking to solve problems. Need
to recognise RCA is a threat to vested interests. Must avoid punitive approach to problem
identifiers. Google for Chris Cook – Nordic Trust for his analysis of compound interest on debt and
land wealth – if they are ignored one loses sight of the problem. RCA analysis will be useful.
Agile computing (as a means to problem solving). In the early days one needed to book time on
computers because they were expensive and a shared resource. To develop software, a lot of time
was necessary to plan well in advance using detailed flowcharts and systems analysis. Relatively
few large scale top down IT projects have been delivered on time or on budget. Computers are now
ubiquitous and so it makes sense develop software iteratively Former method often suffered from
“analysis paralysis”. Software engineering top down or bottom up? NHS systems are an example of
the issues related to large complex systems development. Agile software relies on domain
knowledge and experience. Waterfall cycle doesn’t work. Interative spiral model delivers 90% of
the required functionality in three loops of initial quick and dirty analysis, implementation, training,
support. CAD is fine but is only an artifact. Makes much more sense designing within the real
system. Initial specification is merely a promise of a further conversation. Waterfall may powerful
in the context of economics. Morphological – Zwicky (Swiss national) multi-dimensional. Cross
consistency assessment. Not reducing the number of variable components; not seeking to simplify.
MA was designed for multi-dimensional, non-quantifiable problems where causal modeling and
simulation do not function well, or at all. Consider a complex, real-world problem, like those of
marketing or making policies for a nation, where there are many governing factors, and most of
them cannot be expressed as numerical time series data, as one would like to have for building
mathematical models. The conventional approach here would be to break the system down into
parts, isolate the vital parts (dropping the ‘trivial’ components) for their contributions to the output
and solve the simplified system for creating desired models or scenarios. The disadvantage of this
method is that real-world scenarios do not behave rationally: more often than not, a simplified
model will break down when the contribution of the ‘trivial’ components becomes significant. Also,
importantly, the behaviour of many components will be governed by the states of, and their
relations with, other components – ones that may be seen to be minor before the analysis.
Morphological Analysis, on the other hand, does not drop any of the components from the system
itself, but works backwards from the output towards the system internals. Again, the interactions
and relations get to play their parts in MA and their effects are accounted for in the analysis. The
most important thing to be considered in this respect is to find out when to use morphological
analysis. Mainly attribute analysis or breaking down a product or exploring new ideas help to
unblock the mind when one gets stuck. A new perspective of thinking is helpful in different
domains of business be it in understanding the scope for new product development, identifying the
loopholes in the own system and to check competition. Morphological analysis can be compared to
business process reengineering wherein the existing system is overhauled. So the implications of
morphological analysis have far reaching effects. Much of what has been proposed by policymakers
in response to the current economic problems has been characterised be over simplification. Google
for Monopoly and vivarium by D Dewhurst.