By Moein Khazaei, Mohammad Ramezani, Amin Padash and Dorien DeTombe
How can services that are provided to citizens be overhauled so that they will survive, be competitive and be fair (eg., accessible to all)? Is there a systematic way in which shared value can be created? By shared value we mean combining social and environmental interests with corporate interests.
We have developed a methodology that we call “System redesign toward creating shared value” or SYRCS. It comprises 4 stages, shown in the figure below. They are:
- emancipation and critical thinking
- problem structuring
- multi-criteria and quantitative decision-making
- creating shared value.
Our aims were to: discover critiques of the service, turn critiques into operational alternatives, find contradictory options, evaluate all alternatives through the lens of shared value, and, finally, make the most sustainable plan among the options found.
Stage 1: Emancipation and critical thinking
The system is first studied from a critical point of view to identify major fundamental problems. This involves using critical systems heuristics questionnaires to explore the depth of stakeholder views.
Critical systems heuristics involves exploring motivation (sense of purpose and value), power (who is in control and who is needed for success), knowledge (experience and expertise), and legitimacy (ensuring that all those affected are involved) in a system. It does this by using ‘is’ and ‘ought to be’ forms of questions, such as “Who is (ought to be) the beneficiary? That is, whose interests are (should be) served?”.
This allows exploration of existing problems related to the structure of the system.
The process involves first identifying and finding relevant stakeholders and then interviewing and exploring with them to discover opinions, which may be hidden and which can ultimately indicate the conflicts in and shortcomings of the system. Exploring both the current and ideal situation allows operational alternatives to be developed.
Stage 2: Problem Structuring
The operational alternatives or options are then examined using methods inspired by soft operational research and problem structuring methods, in our case specifically strategic choice approach and robustness analysis.
Strategic choice approach is a problem structuring method which aims to manage the uncertainty and deal with contradictions among decisions. The problem structure is built in a participatory manner, with the aid of facilitators.
Robustness analysis evaluates consequences over time of decisions that will implemented. The robustness of a decision is an operational measure of the flexibility which the commitment imposed by the decision will leave for useful future decision choices.
Stage 3: Multi-criteria and quantitative decision-making
After each stakeholder group has provided its views on the consequences in the robustness analysis, the responses are quantified. There are a variety of methods for achieving this and here we describe the best-worst method.
Best-worst method is a multi-criteria decision-making method that starts with the best and worst options identified for the operational alternatives. The best alternative is then rated against every other alternative using a pre-determined scale (in our case 1-9) and this process is then repeated for the worst alternative. These two sets of pair-wise comparisons provide weights for an optimisation process, which leads to a final decision.
Stage 4: Creating shared value (green path in the figure)
The creation of shared value is not usually systematically planned through a framework. However, in our methodology, by using common value criteria in decision making and using different stakeholders, a framework can be provided.
The key elements are that different stakeholders in the system under investigation are identified. Their opinions are solicited and resultant options evaluated for aiding the final decision.
We would be interested to hear from others about assisting businesses in linking social issues to their core competencies. It would also be interesting to hear from others who have combined methods from a variety of paradigms. In this regard, have you developed other ways to create shared value? Do you have suggestions for how we could strengthen our methodology? Are there other paradigms and methods that would be useful?
To find out more:
Khazaei, M., Ramezani, M., Padash, A. and DeTombe, D. (2021). Creating shared value to redesigning IT-service products using SYRCS; Diagnosing and tackling complex problems. Information Systems and e-Business Management, 1-36. (Online) (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1007/s10257-021-00525-4; or (via ResearchGate): https://www.researchgate.net/publication/351427678_Creating_shared_value_to_redesigning_IT-service_products_using_SYRCS_Diagnosing_and_tackling_complex_problems
This paper provides references for the methods we describe, as well as an example of how we applied the methodology to improving a central payment system for urban services (EZPAY) in Tehran, Iran.
Biography: Moein Khazaei M.Sc. is a researcher and graduate teaching assistant at the Department of Industrial Management, Faculty of Economics and Management, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran. He is interested in qualitative and quantitative methods in operational research, problem structuring, critical thinking, and multi-criteria decision-making. His research focuses on providing decision frameworks from a wide variety of paradigms in line with healthy visions in business such as sustainability and creating shared value.
Biography: Mohammad Ramezani M.Sc. is the Chief Operations Officer at Cafe Bazaar, an Android marketplace in Iran. He is based in Tehran and has 8-years experience in project and operations management in different technology-based companies.
Biography: Amin Padash PhD is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Industrial Management, Faculty of Economics and Management, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran. His research interests focus on sustainable development, sustainability, shared value, risk assessment, management and business process management. He is a founder of the Iranian Association for Health, Safety and Environmental Management and Engineering (HSEME).
Biography: Dorien DeTombe PhD is the founder of the field Methodology for Social Complexity and chair of the International Society on Methodology of Social Complexity. She is based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She is a visiting professor at Sichuan University Chengdu, China. She spent her main career at Utrecht University and at Delft University of Technology, both in the Netherlands.