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Facilitated modelling in operational research

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The traditional way of employing operational research in organisational interventions has been the expert mode. In this mode, the problem situation faced by the client is given to the operational research consultant, who then builds a model of the situation, solves the model to arrive at an optimal (or quasioptimal) solution, and then provides a recommendation to the client based on the obtained solution. An alternative mode of engagement is to conduct the whole intervention together with the client: from structuring and defining the nature of the problem situation of interest, to supporting the evaluation of priorities and development of plans for subsequent implementation. In this latter mode, the operational researcher works throughout the intervention not only as an analyst, but also as a facilitator to the client. This paper discusses this latter mode of engagement with clients, with particular emphasis on the use of facilitated modelling as the intervention tool. Drawing on research scattered across a range of publications and domains, the review presented here provides a formal definition of facilitated modelling, together with a general framework that allows the conceptualisation of a wide variety of facilitated modelling approaches to organisational intervention. Design issues in facilitated modelling and their practical implication are discussed, and directions for future research identified.

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