Review: Rasmussen’s 1997 paper – Risk management in a dynamic society: A modeling problem

The article by Rasmussen (1997) begins with an introduction that risk management is treated differently across all relevant hierarchical levels of a socio-technical system. However, due to the dynamics of the system, treating risk-related decision-making in isolation does not enable us to recognize when we cross the boundary of safe operation. Thus, when assessing risks in a complex socio-technical system, we have to include the layers of legislation, management, work planners and system operators. As a result, we need to touch upon risk models of the disciplines varying from economics, organizational theories and cognitive psychology to engineering.

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The impact of mental models on team decisions

Mental models are a widely accepted source why decision-makers fail to make effective decisions. The concept of mental models was first introduced in the mental model theory (Johnson-Laird, 1983), defining mental models as a medium for mental representation by manipulating mental objects (making decisions) to solve a problem at hand. (Senge, 1990) makes use of the mental model concept in his research on “the learning organization”, where he defines mental models as “deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or image that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. Very often we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effect they have on our behavior” (Senge, 1990), p.8.

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Risk management in development projects, Prof. Dr. Halman – my thoughts to the lecture from a decision-making perspective

During the course Safety by Design I followed an interesting guest lecture given by prof. dr. Halman, who introduced his field of expertise: risk management in innovation projects and how to optimize decision-making in these projects. Especially, from a decision-making point of view relevant conclusions can be drawn. In the following I present my own thoughts to prof. Halman’s lecture and connect it to other literature findingsin decision-making. The lecture slides of prof. dr. Halman presentation can be found here:

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Decision-making challenges in system integration – insights from the Railforum conference

On Tuesday, 20th November we visited the Railforum conference on system integration in the railway sector. The objective of this event was to create a shared understanding of system integration in the railway sector by sharing knowledge and experience.

The event was organized as follows; after a short introduction to the conference stressing the importance and objectives of the Railforum event, a model was presented that outlined all the stakeholders involved in system integration, the services they provide and their potential interaction. Afterwards, four different cases were presented that shed light into the past experiences with system integration. Primarily it focused on the challenges encountered during the integration and how to deal with these challenges. Two cases were sector-specific, one addressed the challenges during the testing of the new Amsterdam metro line (North-South line) and the other case introduced the challenges encountered by NS during the introduction of new material for the sprinter FLIRT. It was followed by two presentations introducing the problems of system integration identified in other industries. One of these presentations was shedding light on the integration challenges of a racket explained by Airbus and the other one summarized the issues recognized during the testing of tunnels presented by the Dutch ministry for water and infrastructure. The conference closed with a panel discussion participated by all presenters and the public. Continue reading “Decision-making challenges in system integration – insights from the Railforum conference”

Decision-making in Asset Life Cycle Management (ALCM)

In the course of my master’s thesis I conducted research in the field of Asset Life Cycle Management (ALCM). Over a period of six months I designed and tested an asset decision-making tool at a case company. The applied methodology for the design of the tool is the design science methodology (Hevner, March, Park, & Ram, 2004).

A few of the most relevant challenges to overcome at the company were the following:

  • A strong silo mentality in the organization
  • No alignment between stakeholders in the decision-making process
  • No reliable data across multiple disciplines

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