Tools for Thinking: Modelling in Management Science

Tools for Thinking: Modelling in Management Science

Tools for Thinking: Modelling in Management Science

Tools for Thinking: Modelling in Management Science

Synopsis

With over 30 years' experience as a management teacher and consultant, Mike Pidd provides the tools for thinking that will help us to think through the consequences of decisions before we act.

The third edition of Tools for Thinking builds on the successes of the previous two editions. It creates a bridge between the soft and hard (Operations Research) OR schools of thought and provides an empirically based framework in which to place them. Focusing on modelling as an activity, rather than on models and techniques, Mike Pidd shows how models can be employed to explore possible future scenarios and to make sense of managerial vision.

This third edition has been fully revised and updated without changing its focus. It features a new chapter on Decision Analysis and includes up-to-date examples using popular softwares, such as Precision Tree, Risk and Micro Saint Sharp , to illustrate how these help in developing and using management science models as tools for thinking.

Excerpt

I wrote the first edition of this book because I had been teaching MBA students and found that, with the right approach, they could see the value of Management Science in tackling difficult problems. Initially, many were sceptical, arguing that the human side of management was all that mattered. I was also teaching specialist Management Science students who had difficulty in seeing that the human side mattered at all, although they loved the mathematical and computer algorithms that make up many textbooks.

This teaching experience has always pulled me in two directions.

To the Management Science students I want to say, ‘Your maths and computer models are all very well, but what about the organizations in which you will work? Don’t you think that the context of your work is worth some investigation?’. But many such students are too busy grappling with their computers to worry too much about these things. In popular parlance, these are the rocket scientists.

To the students and others who stress the human side of management, I want to say, ‘Hold on a minute. Yes, of course management is through people, but isn’t it important to think through the consequences of possible action before doing something? Perhaps you would be better managers if you were able to use the tools to do this?’. This group are often known as the poets.

This book is written for both rocket scientists and poets, whether they be students, academics or practitioners. It aims to give both sides a glimpse over the wall into the other playground. It argues the case for the rocket scientists to be much more thoughtful about organizational life. It stresses the need for the poets to see that methods do exist that will help them to think through possible consequences. For both camps, the idea is to stress that systematic thinking and analysis has a role to play in improving organizational life.

With this in mind, I had found no suitable text that discussed modelling in Management Science. There were plenty of books that explored the use of different techniques, such as linear programming or computer simulation. There were also books that covered the use of soft methods such as soft systems methodology and cognitive mapping. However, I could find none that brought these two areas together, showed how they related and placed them in the context of the building and use of models in Management Science.

As in previous editions, the book is divided into four parts.

Part I Modelling in Management Science

This provides the context for the rest of the book. It argues the case for rational analysis and tries to take account of some criticisms of rationality. It suggests a role for Management Science in contemporary organizations and proposes a few simple principles for modelling.

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