A visualization approach for group behaviors, beliefs and intentions

Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2009, Volume 5621/2009, 91-100, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-02774-1_10 (link to article)

[.] About the need for effective data visualization which minimizes information overload and introduces misinterpretation by simplified visualization based on aggregations.
A visualization approach was developed… for all {5} of the classes of models based on frames of reference for time and physical location within the environment.

[!] 1.2 – 5 Classes of population models. This paragraph describes classes that study the believes of groups and how their beliefs change as a result of events

System Dynamics Models coarse grain data, large time scales, validity of model parameters estimation is difficult, heavy footprint to deploy, explicit causal mechanisms, inherent representation of time  Historical Dynamics: Why states rise and fall (2003)
Social Network Models lack of causality mechanisms, does not aggregate to larger social units, limited predictive ability, rich and detailed representation of population entities, sensitive to differences in populations Models and methods in social network analysis: Structural analysis in social sciences (2005)
State Transition Models behaviours described statistically, lack of explicit representation and reasoning about population’s reactions, inherent representation of time, potential for prediction of long term effects Handbook of systems engineering (1999)
Group Ideology Models uses everyday perceptions in terms of large mount of unstructured data, has inherent mechanisms for representing causality, representation of differences in populations, needs continous updating and maintenance Politics: Automated Ideological reasoning (1978)
Group Dynamics Models richest representation of causal data with same challenges as GI-model, best for short term predictions, group intention understanding possible, and future states of a population can be predicted The Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Group processes (1999)

[!] 3.2 – Information requirements …
This paragraph states that Group Ideollogy Models are best for usa as inherent mechanisms for visualizing causality. I quote: “…driven on every day perception as opposed to survey data. Each group has their beliefs which may be inaccurate, incomplete and inconsistent. The model directly represents the qualities of a belief and uses those qualities in infer relations to other beliefs, an thus derive corresponding interventions. This makes the model a good candidate for projecting short term population reactions and beliefs.”
I see the value of the suggestion to use this model in combination with the social network model (which lacks an explicit mechanism to show causality).
The Ideology model and Group Dynamics Model are said to be quite similar, however “the knowledge within the Group Dynamics Model is focussed on group dynamics rather than ideology. … It studies information  exchanges between the groups involved and identifies optimal strategies for influencing their behaviors” With reference to ‘A balanced approach for LLOs {Logical Lines of Operations} using group dynamics for COIN {COunterINsurgency, military} efficacy’ (2009).

[-] I would argue against the suggested “predictive potential” of models on behavior. We are not dealing with waterheights in a river. We’re talking about ‘black swanish‘ human group behavior.
[-] This article does not really describe interaction between groups. It describes one way analysis and Courses Of Action based on that analysis.
[!] However I do see value in the proposed usage of visualizations. I.e. maps, because this places (and keeps) information within it’s context (over time). This reminds me at the oration of van Marrewijk (2009). First he quotes Kreiner (1995): “Traditional functional and instrumental approaches decontextualize complexe projects…”. Second he adds up Hodgson & Cicmil (2006): “…but don’t offer understanding of the complexity and cultural dynamics”. He continues that: “project organisations are after all not situatied in a stable … context in which project related goals and activities are clear and workprocesses can be predicted”. In my earlier post ‘Serendipity and negotiation‘ a simliar bottleneck in a political bureaucratic context is discussed.
Taking my personal experiences into account – concerining the development innovation dashboards and implementation of shared portfolio’s – this threat of ‘decontextualization’ in is apparent in a multidisciplinar complex context.


Serendipity and negotiation

With reference to van Santen, W., Jonker, C. and Wijngaards, N. (2009) ‘Crisis decision making through a shared integrative negotiation mental model’, Int. J. Emergency Management, Vol. 6, Nos. 3/4, pp.342–355. (link to article)


[.] Authors do not mention that decision making during crisis also takes place in the field (golden hour), where command-and-control does function. As a result, and due to political context, it is my experience that it is especially hard for decision makers to get the right information at the right time. Well, let us follow the lead of decision making in a bureaucratic context and follow the conclusion. What exactly does a ‘shared teamwork mental model’ mean? I agree, the given context can be seen as a negotiation proces. Parts of it, to be more precise: negotiation in between orientation and decision making phases. Within a repetitive iteration of dialogues. A multidisciplinary setting -in which most parties might have something valuable to offer to the others- a cooperative approach certainly can be a promising approach of decision making. I’ll read on to find out why ‘assertiveness’ is a second recommendation. However I’m wondering. What’s with wrong with C2 and fine chairmanship in decision making within time restrictions?

[-] 1-Introduction
…{because of the fact that} … decision making can … be seen as a negotiation process {within the given context}, …an assertive and cooperative approach is best suited, and {therefore} …a shared integrative model of negotiation {is best for} crisis decision making. That sounds quite bold to me.

[!] 2-Bureaucratic politics in crisis management
I agree.

[-] 3-A negotiation perspective on crisis decision making
‘So during crises, the optimal negotiation attitude is a win-win attitude.’… I don’t think an army decision maker would agree.

[!] 4-Mental models in collaborative decision making
Nice outline of (shared) mental models.

[.] 5-Mental models of negotiation in crisis decision making
I would like to add that perhaps recognizing the used mental models is important. I can’t imagine a good bureaucrat without this capacity.

* C2 doesn’t hold. I agree, some other situations need other tactics
* Crisis decision is -in my opinion- more than negotiation only. Negotiation should connect two other phases (orientation and decision making itself), before the next phase (delegating actions).
* I cannot agree that in every scenario of crisis decision making there is allways one suitable approach.
* This goes for the seemingly preferred ‘shared integrative model’ as well. Why don’t we ask Defcon.
* Yes, focussing on a shared goal is insurmountable for multidisciplinary decision making.

I would propose to extend C2 (Command-and-Control) toward C3 (C2 + Communication). C3 as adagium of sharing information on the fly and learning how others work and thereby creating mental models.
Page 68-69 in this article (Department of Internal Affairs, 2009) refers to Dynamical Situation Reports, successfully tested in decision making training during crisis in a bureaucratic, political context. The article pleads for cooperation, not necessarily for assertiveness.
It’s all about sharing information and not about being assertive (to something). We should try to make serendipity work. The same way xTRIZ (Valeri Souchkov) uses the Ideal Final Solution: use a problem to solve itself/it’s unwanted side effects.

Let’s define our ultimate goal, true Collaboration, the ultimate sum of C2 & C3, with an explosive working title: C4.


Organisation constellations

About an intervention technique using an emotional approach from a holistic perspective. Based on family constellations (Franke, 2003). This method uses the positioning of persons representing other persons/brands/processes, who give direct feedback about their relative position to the others.

There seems to be one catch when thinking about taking this method into computer visualization: emotional feedback of real persons is eminent. 

[?] Is it possible to incorporate such human automatic emotional feedback into a computerized intervention?

DUTCH: Wim Jurg, Unravelling branding systems Nieuwe ontwikkeling in het veld van organisatieopstellingen

Het fenomeen organisatieopstelling is nog jong. Het aantal professionals dat zich in dat veld beweegt is groeiende. En daarmee ook het aantal mensen om hen heen dat persoonlijk ervaren heeft wat een organisatieopstelling kan brengen.
Unravelling branding systems is de titel van de Engelse handelseditie van het proefschrift van Wim Jurg, waarop hij op 1 november 2010 is gepromoveerd. Het verzamelt en analyseert de waardering en bruikbaarheid van de merkopstelling als een middel voor branding en marketing. Natuurlijk beschrijft het ook de opstellingen zelf.


U kunt het boek bestellen via onze website:http://www.hetnoorderlicht.com ISBN: 9789077290132


Situational behaviour and power between partners

“Culture and cultural differences are not so much resources, but rather resources for cross-cultural cooperation in unequal power relations”

Source: Ailon & Kunda, 2003, the local selves of global workers: The Social Construction of National Identity in the face of organizational Globalization, Byun & Ybema, 2005

Japanese business In the Dutch polder: the experience of differences in cultutal asymetric power relations


Types of altruism

Harvard professor and business author Yochai Benkler (The Penguin and The Leviathan: The Science and Practice of Cooperation recently spoke at the Santa Fe Institute.

[!] He distinguishes five types of altruism in this video (@ 28 minutes):

  1. Kin altruism, or inclusive fitness (Hamilton): “I wil jump into a river ro save two brothers or eight cousins” {genetic}
  2. Direct reciprocity (Trivers): “tit for tat” {or taking your chances} “I help you. You help me”
  3. Indirect reciprocity: “pay it forwards” {on average positive feedback, therefore better of as an individual} “My strategy also depends on what you have done to others”
    1. Upstream reciprocity occurs when an act of altruism causes the recipient to perform a later act of altruism in the benefit of a third party. In other words: A helps B, which then motivates B to help C.
    2. Downstream reciprocity occurs when the performer of an act of altruism is more likely to be the recipient of a later act of altruism. In other words: A helps B, making it more likely that C will later help A.
  4. Network reciprocity / graph selection (Lieberman): “Sharing selectively with others within one’s network”, “Clusters of cooperators do well”
  5. Multilevel (group) selection (Sloan Wilson,Traulsen & Nowak) “Selection can be bad for the individual, and at same time good for the group, i.e. Evolutionary models to culture and institutions” {?war/sacrifice} “Groups of cooperators out-compete other groups”

For details, see ‘Five rules for the evoluion of cooperation’ (Nowak).
[!] Interesting quotes:

David Haig: “For direct reciprocity you need a face. For indirect reciprocity you need a name.”

Indirect reciprocity leads to social intelligence and human language
Games of indirect reciprocity are cognitively demanding;

individuals need to monitor the social network of a group.
=> evolution of social intelligence

Individuals must be able to talk to each other about others.
=> evolution of human language

[?] I’m wondering whether these types will stand, when groups are more or less obliged to work together…


Haiti surviving NGO’s

This American Life is a great radio documentary.

I am especially fascinated by this story about Haiti. About Mango’s and cooperation. About behavior of groups.

It’s quite a tough story actually. Listen for your self about the struggle for survival and the complexity of working with NGO’s.

[!] I’m interested in the way groups interact. In this example we follow land owners/ farmers, traders/ doctors and NGO’s.


Visualize group reflection

[?] How do group members see themselves?
[?] And how do members see each other?

To get an idea how user input can be visualized back to the group, I’ve created a tool. Using friends to collect a sample data set, I found the research by Pieter Jan van Delden providing a suitable framework.

Take a look at some screen shots.



You can play with the demo online @ wereldopener.nl … and yes, the ‘average’-button still needs a little work… Demo created with processing



Developed for ISAGA 2104, this presentation introduces the motivation, approach and first steps of my research as an external PhD. For developing a better understanding of behavioral dynamics, I have developed a new method, including a design tool that helps debriefing behavior.

Explanation in 14 SLIDES via Linkedin or as PDF file.

An app will become available for free – free as in free beer – online soon, so you(r team) can start improve debriefing skills!


Problem definition
Is it possible to visualize behavior – fed by interests of both the smaller part and the larger whole – and feed it back into the group, enabling groups themselves to make the group decision process more efficient? Thereby making the decision making process more effective as a whole?

Strengthen the process of effective decision making in engaged collaboration, while focusing on complex system situations.

Digging a little deeper
Working within a single organization sometimes already is quite a challenge, let alone working across organizational boundaries. Still cooperation lures for reasons like lower costs, better services and more flexibility.
In return, working together does require a certain degree of openness. Offering disclosure can however feel like undermining ones bargaining position. The start-up of a collaborative assignment in a complex system situation can quickly steer group members towards a delicate balance of cooperation and competition.
This balance of interests has two perspectives; both from the smaller part and from the larger whole. The exact motivation and the (expected) type of reciprocity is hard to identify.

Ambiguities between groups are mostly treated and negotiated in depth, for competitive reasons or purely powered by enthusiasm. This mutes the dialogue about each others position, interest or behavior. And it comes at the expense of that which the negotiation should actually handle: “how does the ambiguity / the conflict fit the intention of the cooperation?”

In particular, during the judgement phase of a debate cycle (between orientation and decision making phase) the bargaining dominates, and thus the positioning of self-interest. This seems to be an energy leak.
There are enough examples where cooperation and competition take place at the same level: the three universities of technology in the Netherlands, regional innovation clusters, safety regions, health care systems, distribution of aid in Haiti. These examples all indicate groups that have to deal with local struggle for (financial) means in short term, parallel to the envisioned regional cooperation. These examples raise questions about tensions between group interests; about a need for control versus a will for opening up.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a finger-on-the-pulse system available, to be used during collaboration in complex situations? This research aims at making clear how such a system should look / should work. I am curious whether unexpected, seemingly random and emotionally disturbing developments can improve the cooperation of the whole. What kind of disturbance is that and how can visualization techniques strengthen group interaction?