Introduction to Influence Net Modeling

Influence Net modeling is a structured process that allows those responsible for strategic planning and decision making to investigate complex issues of cause and effect in order to determine optimal courses of action to influence outcomes. Expert opinions from diverse fields of study are integrated into a model created by the experts themselves.

Influence Net modeling is a marriage of two established techniques:

Influence Net modeling assists analysts, corporate strategists, and operational planners with expertise in different disciplines as they collaborate on issues which require an understanding of many fields. Experts who share a specialty, or who collaborate to support a decision maker, can critique and challenge the logic of one another on any given issue. Although the experts best understand the individual influences, the modeling process improves the planning and decision process by supporting cross-discipline analysis.

Influence Net modeling allows planners and decision makers to recognize and evaluate important relationships among seemingly unconnected events. By combining the best of these two techniques, Influence Net modeling assists in breaking down complicated issues of cause-and-effect into their fundamental components. When implemented as a software application, the easy-to-use graphical "front-end" and automated assessment techniques facilitate a more detailed level of thinking than may be provided with intuition alone. Once identified, these detailed components and inter-relationships can be evaluated for their importance within the larger picture.

An Influence Net is a graphically-created model that depicts events and their causal relationships. In constructing the model, researchers, experts, and planners collaborate and thereby increase their knowledge about cross-discipline relationships. A sample graphical model depicting the SIAM application is shown below.

Influence Net Image (16.4 Kbytes)

But an Influence Net is much more than a pretty picture! Using fact-based information and your expert judgements, levels of confidence and degrees of uncertainty are incorporated into the Influence Net. These values are employed by our software applications to support assessment of:

Such analysis aids the decision maker in identifying events and relationships with significant potential to improve or degrade the likelihood of a desired outcome. In this way, optimal courses of action and contingency plans can be determined.

In summary, Influence Net modeling is a technique that facilitates planning and decision making by encouraging participants in the process to consider and track effects of all issues, events, perceptions, and other factors believed to be significant.  By analyzing all relevant factors, the strategic planner can make the most informed decision possible, even under severely uncertain and dynamic situations. Using our software applications, modifications to an Influence Net can be quickly incorporated that depict uncontrolled variables, major developments, and changes in the real-world situation.

Constructing Infuence Nets ] Influence Net Situations ] Assessing Influence Nets ]