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Wicked Problems: Using Morphological Analysis to tackle complex design and policy questions

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‘Wicked problems’ are exceedingly complex situations where ’facts are uncertain, values are in dispute, stakes are high and decisions urgent.’ They occur widely from engineering design to government policy.

Morphological Analysis was devised by Professor Fritz Zwicky, the Caltech astrophysicist and aerospace scientist, as a method for structuring and investigating the total set of relationships within multi-dimensional, often non-quantifiable, problem complexes. Zwicky applied it to such diverse fields as the classification of astrophysical objects, the development of jet and rocket propulsion systems, and the legal aspects of space travel and colonization.

The technique was further developed by the Swedish Defence Research Agency in the mid-90s, using computers to handle multiple dimensions and potentially millions of constructed configurations.

Subsequently, the tool has been implemented as a PC application and used to tackle many technical and organisational problems.

In this presentation, several case examples will be given exploring the ‘design space’ to demonstrate how diverse issues such as technology development, national policy directives, organisational structure, public perception, ethical issues and educational requirements can be formulated and interrelated.

Dr Nasir Hussain is a board-registered pharmacist completing his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees (Doctorate in Nanotechnology) at The School of Pharmacy, University of London. Nasir completed his MBA at Cass Business School, where he developed operational frameworks for mitigating risks in drug development licensing deals.

He co-founded The Strategy Foresight Partnership in 2008 following a career spanning 20 years in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic sectors.

His principal interests reside in the application of operational research methods, stochastic forecasting and valuations techniques in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.

Nasir has co-authored and presented over 50 papers as well as having been guest editor of Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. He was awarded The Guild of International Bankers Lombard Prize at Merrill Lynch in 2008 for his novel application of Financial Portfolio Theory in the construction of optimal in-licensed drug portfolios.

Refreshments served from 18.45. Talk starts at 19.00. Ends at 21.00 following questions and discussion.

Free to attend. Open to the public. No need to register.

This talk is part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Cambridgeshire Area) series.

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