The following exercise is a simple introduction to strategic analysis of complicated global problems.  For those interested it is an application of Actor-network theory. The exercise combines several skills essential to strategic thinking such as:

  • gathering and analysis of intelligence
  • practical application of game theory
  • how to stabilize a complex interdependent system as it approaches chaotic conditions

There are countless definitions of leadership.  The one essential element for purposes of this exercise is a leader’s ability to anticipate failure of his or her preferred course of action (COA).  A leader needs to anticipate failure of any given strategy.  Arnold Toynbee, a famous historian, wrote “Nothing fails like success when you rely upon it too much.”  Peter Senge incorporates Toynbee’s observation as the first law of The Fifth Discipline, a respected book on group problem solving.  Senge’s version is as follows: Today’s Problems Come from Yesterday’s Solutions.  A leader needs to have multiple courses of action in case COA #1 (what has worked in the past) fails.

Although the following Titanic Think Tank tutorial can be used for any number of global issues, our scope of interest will be limited to only one issue.  The issue is Article 4 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 4 reads: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

The default position for purposes of this leadership exercise is the antithesis of the United Nations’ thesis that declares slavery and slave trade shall be prohibited.  In other words, we will anticipate and plan in advance for “failure” of the United Nations’ “solution.”  Specifically, your team needs to understand the arguments in favor of slavery.  You need to be able to enter into the minds of your enemy.  Only in this way can you discover how to convert your enemy’s perspective so that it better conforms to your perspective.  Your enemy’s perspective or mental model is as follows: “Might makes right”.