"The Next Step" CD from High Performance Sys LO12733 -Eval

Peter Marks (marks@halcyon.com)
Sat, 1 Mar 1997 19:50:34 -0800 (PST)

Replying to LO12719 --

Dennis Meadows writes,

> Peter Marks misses the point and his evaluation of this disk
> seems mainly to be related to a grumpy attitude that he has
> acquired from factors totally unrelated to this teaching
> package, like High Performance System's relatively slow move to
> PC-compatibility.

Dennis is (sort of) right here. I wasn't thinking of myself as writing an
*evaluation*, but rather merely recognizing one more interesting market
move of HPS. [And he's dead on about my grumpiness.]

> Peter Marks says that there are other disks of this quality being
> distributed for free as promotional material. I ask him kindly to send me
> the addresses I can use to acquire them. I doubt they exist.

How about any of the good software tools available as shareware? Would
many people register Next Step after their initial evaluation period?

What triggered my reaction to Phil Freneu's post was his positioning of
Next Step as a 'tool'. "Ithink Lite" (i.e., some useful subset of Ithink)
might be an appropriate thing to sell at $100 and would be a tool; but I
still think Next Step is closer to an ad than a tool [admittedly an ad is
a tool - to the company placing it].

> The main simulation on the disk, which requires the user to
> manage marketing and production investments for a small
> company, is entirely new.

Dennis is also right that I didn't mention the business simulation, and it
is an upgraded version of the old beer game. But now, even after he had me
thinking about it, my feeling is not more positive.

> This disk works for an individual or small team that has read
> Fifth Discipline, but remains unfamiliar with computer
> modeling, and who wants to start learning more on their own
> time. The disk offers a very small window into systems
> thinking, but it is a very useful start.
> ...
> Next Step is a great advance over the flight simulators that
> are being produced now quite widely. It gives users a chance to
> understand and master the various elements of structure
> underlying the game's behavior. Progress is rapid in this
> field. Of course two years from now there will be much more
> polished packages available. But for the moment, this is the
> best there is.

Unless I overlooked some critical option, this kind of packaging simply
propagates the illusion that system thinking is about *running* a
(presumed correct) model with different parameter sets. I would have
thought that the now-decades-ago reaction to "Urban Dynamics" and "Limits
of Growth" would have laid this one to rest. In this sense a literal
flight simulator *is* better than Next Step because its underlying model
is well-accepted.

I think the real *initial* lesson that needs to be learned - particularly
by a team - is that to be worthy of trust, a model's *structure* must be
open to arguing over, modifying, and testing. The really successful
'conversions' I have seen occurred only when the results of successive
attempts to model an objector's trial counter-hypotheses were seen to not
accomplish the desired ends.

         ___o        -     o             Peter Marks <marks@halcyon.com>
       _-\_<,       -     _\ /\_       15307 NE 202nd Street (206)489-0501
      (*)/ (*)     -     (*)^(*)     Woodinville, WA 98072
     More comfortable AND faster ... that's REAL technology!

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>