Decision Science in Networks



Jamison Day, PhD completed doctoral work on Decision Science. He is dedicated to improving coordination among people and organizations. He applies complexity principles to design socio-technical solutions supporting disaster relief supply chains.

Jamison opens with a twist on what distributed means, suggesting that there is a spectrum between centralized and decentralized where “distributed” can take many shapes along that spectrum. Perhaps, he provokes us to think, the original network diagram images might be seen in other ways. This is the original:

And he claims all of the images are distributed, they differ in how they are distributed.

He goes on to talk about coordination, suggesting that governance offers a meta level of coordination. So he will focus on what coordination is and how it works. Jamison offers a bunch of C words: coordination, communication, cooperation, collaboration, and competition (the silent C).

Competition can be a triggering word for some of us. He explores coopitition (cooperative competition)  as a way to relate to this. This might be important work for us to consider – what shadows loom in competition and are we acknowledging it where it gets hidden and without glorifying it either?

Jamison distinguishes between the C words: is there agreement on context? on methods? on purpose/objectives?  Then he provides a matrix for defining different strategies for coordination, concluding that they end up being all improvisation yet vary about whether there are more or less rules and more or less centralized.

Asking what the critical dimensions are for coordination in human systems, Jamison offers four:

  1. Data/info management,
  2. Resource Allocation,
  3. Performance Feedback, and
  4. Trust & Reputation.

Next, Jamison goes to the mathematical relations of networks of different types and which structural approaches to coordination have which dynamics.

From there he concludes that attempts to centralize are failing, given exponential growth of environmental change and how it is outpacing our linear methods of adaptation in centralized structures. Thus hubs of power must adopt new peer to peer technologies for production, consumption, and sensemaking.

Several members have issues with the assumptions around production/consumption and transactional frameworks: what is it that we humans do beyond and instead of those frames? A discussion followed, sensing where we have alignment and where not, in surprising ways.

This also sets us up for our next conversation with Nadia about running distributed organizations, and how her organization, Edgeryders, which is something of an anarchist hacker collective, interacts with a wide range of differently shaped actors successfully (government institutions, for example).