Online Collection Explores Complexity

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Prolem solving logic chart or "problemitique". From the John N. Warfield Papers.

Select items from the John N. Warfield Collection in SC&A have been digitized, and these items now form the John N. Warfield Digital Collection. Warfield began his intellectual career studying electrical engineering and mathematics. This led him to work with early computer prototypes. Besides math and electrical engineering, Warfield became interested in group pathologies. He began to look at how and why people make decisions, especially in situations that involve a great deal of complexity. This led him to establish Interactive Management (IM), a computer-assisted process designed to help groups manage complex problems unique to their organizations.

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Interactive Management session. From the John N. Warfield Papers.

Some of the organizations that have used IM in the past include: Ford Motor Company, U.S. Department of Defense, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Defense Systems Management College. IM sessions, like the one in the video segment below, are facilitated meetings designed to resolve complex issues pertaining to an organization. Those involved are usually “ground-level” participants with knowledge of the different facets of the problem.


Video segment of an Interactive Management session. From the John N. Warfield Papers.

Dr. Warfield served as President of the Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers as well as the Society for General Systems Research (late renamed the International Society of Systems Science).  He was founding editor of the journal Systems Research and was editor of the IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics.  Warfield is also a Fellow of the International Society for Design and Process Science.

Materials in this collection date from 1951 to 2007 and include manuscripts, photographs, audio, and video segments.

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