Game approach to stimulating communication, thought, activity

Boris Sazonov

The aim of an activity-inciting game (AIG) is to pose serious social problems and seek to resolve then. The game is arranged as follows: within a relatively short time (from 4 to 12 days) representatives of various institutions (also trades, strata etc.) seeking to introduce radical changes in the situation they face (stipulated by the topic or name of the game) pose and develop pertinent problems, find solutions and define practical and theoretical work to be done by means of procedures of inside- and intergroup communication. The work is carried out according to a specially designed script, involving all the participants. The AIG basic principle is to induce the participants to implement the solution taken in the course of the game. Moreover, the participants should define what changes they are to undergo so that the situation can be improved. Thus the actual outcome of the game is not confined to so-called paper work (reports, plans, programmes, designes, advice), it is the new thinking which has been shaped and newly-set teams of people, assuming responsibility for the implementation of the adopted solutions.

1. AIG-movement in the USSR

The AIG-movement was initiated and developed in a close contact with the Moscow metodological group (MMG), whose history goes back to the early 50th. For more than twenty five years the esoteric studies produced by MMG or by its former members have been yielding theoretical or theoretico-experimental results (e.g. in the theory of thinking in non-formal genetic logic, in the development of the activity approach, reflexive analyses etc.) which have been sporadically injected in various spheres of science and practice (e.g. psychology engineering, ergonomics, semiotics, linguistics, pedagogics, engineering, disigning etc.).

The first AIG named The development of consumer goods assortment for the Ural region was carried out in 1979 at the Ural branch of the All-Union research institute of industrial design at the State Committee of the USSR for Science and Technology. The aim of that and the subsequent games was to create a new form of collective thinking  the task the MMG has been seeking to fulfil with view to large-scale practical implementation of its basic concepts, experimenting and further development of the MMG methodology of system thoughts (STM)[1].

The accumulated experience, the recent publications[2] and a great number of major and minor AIGs conducted in the USSR, shows that is the AIG movement has been established here. It has already split in several branches in accordance with the trades and goals of its members.Some of the MMG members have become the leaders of the groups of methodologists and game-conductors (a kind of moderators), initiating AIG in order to develop a number of problems dealing with various social objects, e.g. higher education, architecture and urban development, school education, skill improvement and later on  planning of Managerial and organisational structures, launching and programming of an enterprise activity, preparation and implementation of the socio-economic innovations, working out of the strategic areas of development, election of managerial stuff and vacancy contest, regional administration, etc. Estimates put the number of the carried out AIGs in the range from several dozens to several hundreds. Some attempts have been made to analize and standardize the principles and rules of AIG on the methodological basis. The all-Union Committee on AIG and STM has been established.

It should be noted that AIG is the direct continuation of the MMG tasks, principles and methods worked out by MMG and as such it has little to do with other game approaches, with busieness games, function games as well as with socio-psychological training. The former deals with social and cultural realia, while the latter  with psychological ones.

Another difference in principle lies in the fact that AIG is not a fixed set of methods and techniques. The AIG founders and those involved are seeking to apply newly designed methods and techniques, revising its potenticilities and the results obtained, in other words they are constantly developping the very approach. Each game regardless the prestige of those who organized it is subjected to crytical analysis in order to determine to what extent the conducted game has been an AIG proper and what its contribution to the approach is.

Obviously, different groups of game-conducters and methodologists will be of different opinion. The current work presents the authors view on the AIG approach based on the games carried out by the AIG group, the authors represent.

2. How to prepare and conduct a game

It usually takes several,months to prepare a game as it necessitates to:

  • discuss with the Customer the aim and the topics of the game, its venue, framework and context, as well as to settle down the financing;
  • study the situation at the enterprise, determine the tasks for the organizers (self-determination of the organizers);
  • compose a script of the gamer: the script should specify the composition of the groups of the players; their tasks, types and forms of communication between the groups; at that stage a team of game-conductors is to be formed. The number and composition of participants is of particular importance as they should duely represent an enterprise, a stratum, or a trade stipulated by the topics of the game.

So the game is a success if the social structure of a given phenomenon (which is defined by the aim and the topic of the game) is represented, however actually it is hardly achievable. Thus it should be noted, that the script of the game is compiled in such a way, so that it could be adjusted in the course of the game in order to be relevant to the actual compositions of the players. Evidently the more skilled the players are, the greater access to the practical implementation of their skills they have, the more productive the game is.

The preparatory work involves scientific seminars and discussions which are sometimes arranged in the font of a game. At this stage the previous games and especially the last one in the row is critically analyzed and revised. Only after that, when the aims of each participant and the groups of participants are specified, when the ways and means of conducting the coming game are known, the script can be compilled and a new team of game conductors can be set up.

And at last the programme and the skeleton of the game are to be approved. There the topic and the aims of the game are specified, the situation at the enterprise, the date of the game and the venue are stipulated. These papers should also specify in which way the results should be submitted, who in person will participate in the game (naming the manager of the game, methodologysts, game-conductors, advisers), who is in charge for type-writing, photography, video and audio recording and it necessary for the interpretation and translation. There should be also a list of the pertinent means and aids needed for the game (video and audio tape-recorders, cassettes, etc.). The game will be a greater success if it is conducted away from the place of work and residence of its participants.

At different stages the game can take different frameworks and can be conducted in various modes. It is usually started with a guiding report of the manager of the game, who will inform the players of the rules, principles and procedures of AIGs, specifies the aims, the agenda and the script of the current game. Usually the participants play in groups (from 3 to 10-12 persons, including game-conductors) in accordance with the agenda of the day. The results of their works are discussed at plenary meetings. The script can also provide for methodological consultations,but they can be held depending on the current situation. Towards the end of the day at a meeting of the game-headquarters the game-conductors analyze the situation and agree upon the next steps to be taken. The game is crowned with final reports of the groups or individual players. In the course of the game reflexion, progress of the game and contribution of each participant can be assessed. Usually the game produces some valuable solutions, which are to be developped in greater detail. For this purpose the theoretical and practical results of the game as well as its means and ways and methodology should be analyzed. Normally it takes quite a time (from 1-2 to 6 months). The game will be more productive provided the game-conductors have at thir disposal a full verbation of the game events (plenary meetings, methodological consultations, meetings at the head-quarters, group activity) supplied with methodological comment. Methodological seminars discussing the results, the aims and the context of the game would also be helpful.

3. The basic instruments and processes involved in AIG

In accordance with the principles of AIG each game should involve two basic processes: a working and a playing ones, at the crossroad of which the third and the leading one is shaped this the process of collective thinking. While compiling the script, which is the major component of the preparatory work, the team of game-conductors should take into account all three of them. The compiled script should indicate the specific tasks for each game-conductor (the so-called self-deternination), this is of crucial impotance for the success of the game. The programme of the game is based on the analysis of the situation, on the aims and tasks of the participants and the Customer, on the detailed outline of the game as well as on the experience, gained in previous games and the purposes the organizers seek.

While discussing the agenda, provided or outlined by the Customer, the team of game-conductors should first of all specify its own purposes and the contribution that the given game is likely to provide for the development of methodology and game technique and for the solution of the key problem, the organizers and methodologtsts encountered in the previous games. No abuse of the Customer is meant, as this is a necessary prerequsite for the vitality and sustainability of the game. If only the team starts to repeat itself, apply the same technique and reduplicate the solutions thus hampering its own progress, then the game looses momentum and the participants can no longer rise above standard solutions and stereotype thinking.

The tasks which the team of game-conductors specifies for itself is one of the basic point of AIG, by which it is distinguished from other forms of consultations that normally provides an expert opinion on the situation. As to the team of game-conductors its purpose is the so-called self-determination, or in other words it tries to advance its own programme of development in the given situation which the team consideres indispensable for the progress of the players and the resolution of the problems they face.

The game problem of the team can be of various nature and as such it can be shaped in different ways. In game 1 (see Table) an attempt was made to carry out the AIG in the shortest possible time  that is to defreeze the players and to achieve the final results (Though the biggest authorities in this field insist that the game crisis can be reached only within 3 days, and only then the defreezing is feasible.) Game 2 was percieved as a full-scale game conducted by an unexperienced team  the members of the team had not had a chance to participate in AIG even as players, but they had taken part in the methodological seminars. In games 3 and 4 attempts were made to induce players to think in strategic terms and to re solve the problems in the situations which were not defined as all the players in their everyday practice had been restrickted by the time limit and specifics of the problem. In games 4 and 5 various elements of AIG were tested for their relevancy for extension/refresher courses. Game 6 was a part of the experimental programme, aimed at molding and educating of collective subjects of policy-making whose domain is administration and self-governing of the capital and its environment.

General data on the games carried out by the authors in the USSR and Bulgaria[3]

Topic

Enterprise

Venue

Date

Time

No of participants, No of organizers

1 2 3 4 5
1 Ways and tasks of pesonnel training in the period of reconstruction of an enterprise Lichachev automobile plant, Moscow

October, 1985,

2 days

20

5

2 Production end distribution of consumer goods in the region with scientific and technologi cal progress Executive commettee of the town Soviet of Peoples deputies with the participation of the town regional party committies, Ulianovsk

March, 1986,

8 days

75

11

3 An enterprise strategic development in the non-defined situation uncertainty (Moscow carburettor plant as an example model) Moscow carburettor plant, the village of Michnevo, Moscow

November 1986,

7 days

80

9

4 Strategic development of libraries science: Management and strategic thinking (in the context of the courses organized for the reserve group of Moscow library directors at the All-Union institute of skills improvement of the workers of culture All-Union institute of the improvement, of cultural workers skills, Moscow

May

1987,

3 days

30
5 New Methods of administration (in the context of the experimental courses,set up for the managerial reserve of the Lichachev automobile plant Lichachev automobile plant, Moscow

October 1986,

June, 1987,

June, 1987,

20

2

6 Concept of social development of Moscow and Moscow region, ways of implementation Executive committee of the Moscow Soviet of Peoples deputies, Academy of sciences, Otradnoe, Moscow reg.

November

1987,

 
7 Strategic collective thinking AIG principles and potencialities in the context of the experimental courses set up for a group of economic, party, trade union managers Microelectronics factory, Botevgrad, Bulgaria

October

1987,

4 days

20

3

8 Present stage restructing in Bulgaria: analyzing situation via game and a situation in a game (a start-up game) Scientific-industrial amalgamation, named after Blagoy Popov, Simeonovo, Bulgaria

April

1988,

8 days

25

4

9 Reorganization of property relations in Bulgaria (resultant-game) Ditto, Roodartsy, Bulgaria

May

1988,

7 days

50

5

In the games conducted in Bulgaria the AIG approach was primarilly used to develop the given problems, thus displaying the variety of AIG applications, and secondly to transfer the approach per se, in order to instigate the Bulgarian AIG movement and methodology.

It should be noted that the problems posed by the topic of the game cannot be resolved by the trite techniques and methods used by the players in their everyday practice (that is usually chracterised by the lack of subjects of social action, by distorted communication and so on). Hence, a game and in particular an AIG is indispensable for practical purposes as it launches inventive solutions into the real life. The game should be designed in such a way as to make the players discard conventional thinking. At that stage a game space is created, which involves the processes of intergroup and interpersonal communication and understanding, set up interaction and self-determination and all these will help the players to grow into thinking subjects of social action.

Without going into detail we would note that the script provides for a variety of arrangement of the game space and ways of starting the game. It can be arranged in the form of an intergroup competition in solving a supertask, by making the players aware of the gravity of the problems they face, by making them counterparts etc. Not all the participants are involved in the game and to organize them is of particular importance. In one of the previous games they were arranged in a separate group called game school. While the other participants took part in the game the members of the game school learned methodology (S.V.Naumov) and used it to analyze the game events.

In game 3 alongside with the most advanced groups, that were working on the strategy of alternative development of their enterprise, a special club was established, the members of which were freely discussing the various aspects of that development.

The collective thinking is both the aim and the means of the game. The players should be first of all tuned to thinking, they should learn to use the aids of thinking such as modelling in the diagrams, drafting of the category-denoting diagrams and concepts. Meanwhile the said models and concepts should be produced together or collectively and at the same time they should serve as the prerequisite for collective thinking. Collective thinking (CT) starts with thought communication while its ultimate goal is the collective activity in a game, relevant to the needs of CT. Given below is a CT-diagram which to a certain extent can be considered as an outline of the game (Fig. 1).

Some elements (day agenda, names and number of the groups, etc.) can be radically changed in the course of the game. They cannot and should not be stricktly observed. Unlike other forms of collective activity, e.g. meetings, training courses and business games, AIG provides for a greater freedom of action. As the script is not necessarily observe and some of its provisions can be revised, all the participants of the game are becoming more creative, beeing genuinly involved in the process and sometimes unexpected but significant results are obtained.

The outcome of the game can be discribed as follows:

a) actual solutions, models,designs and programmes  this is the material product of the game, or every thing that can be gained from it both by participants and non-participants;

b) new approaches, methods, means of communication and thinking and activity  everything that can be gained by participants only and that they can use in the post-game practice;

c) people per se, those who have revised their system of values, principles and stands and updated thinking? those who have made some tangible progress in self-development.

It should be noted that sociological studies applied in AIG are different from that applied in other cases. Analyzing a problem or an object the sociological studies are usually based on the given model of social subjects. The same model is used in AIG in order to test its relevance to the actual interaction of players and to restruct the obsolete models of social relations while creating modern subjects of social action. The actual outcome of the game is usually regarded as the results described in c) and partially in b). The game is considered an AIG proper if it has not been confined to the work on a given task carried out in groups, to the improvement of players skills and acquisition of new techniqeus. Obviously, the results of the game can not be secured in advance, hence taking risk is inevitable. All the participants of the game work really hard under physical and mental strain in order to obtain the desired results, but even in case they fail, the awarness of failure marks a certain progress, so a game (provided it was an AIG) is bound to yield results

.1

4. Aims of AIG and programme of international transfer of the AIG approach

Analizing the increasing number of the conducted games the .authors consider the further development of AIG as a complex problem. On one hand it should develop through a transfer of experience and game techniques and through a constant improvement of the level of the game components (methods and techniques). On the other hand the methods and stereotypes should be constantly distroyed and abandoned, in other words AIG should be professionally developed and should self-develop non-professionally in the variety of socio-economic and cultural contexts.

All these makes the international transfer of the AIG-approach a fascinating idea. The AIG transfer necessitates both revising the approach and CT-methodology in its integrity in a different national and economic context (this is of extreme importance) and obtaining practical results of the experiments, whose aim is to find out:

- to what extent the AIG approach is relevant to various socio-economic and political situations and if it runs counter to other forms of invigorating and developing social and independent action and democracy;

- whether an AIG can be applied independently, apart from CT-methodology which is the source and the foundation of the AIG approach in the USSR, whether the AIG can initiate a methodological movement; i

- whether CT-methodology and the AIG approach can be of any cultural and historical value, becoming not only the means but the essence of the international cooperation.

Starting from 1985 when the first games when conducted the authors have been considering the possibility of conducting the games in other countries. Alongside with further development of the theoretical and methodological priciples of AIG as well as with its practical implementation in the USSR.

It should be noted that direct participation of a soviet team of game-conductors in the games carried out in a strange context is not expedient as they will have to overcome the language barrier, the differencies in social and cultural conditions and the difficulty in interaction between the participants of the game which can be affected by specific relations between the represented nations.

In view of the above the authors insist that in the context of international cooperation a native team of game-conductors should be trained according to the following programme:

a) at the initial stage the principles, potentialities of AlGs and the available experience are introduced; at that stage a pilot enterprise should be chosen, and main parameters of the game (its aim, topic, time, number of participants,etc.) should be determined;

b) a native team of game-conductors is set up, candidates are promoted and trained, a start-up game is conducted possibly in the USSR; scientific, practical and methodological seminars and meetings on the AIG design are held;

c) starting from this stage the two teams are working together, they work out a programme and conduct and analyze the resultant game?

d) the material products of the AIG cycle are prepared; further application of the approach in the country as well as in other countries is discussed;

e) an international conference is held devoted to theory, methodology, scientific research, methods and transfer of modern forms of administration and management; a booklet (a collective monograph) is prepared for print.

Hence, the implementation on international programme will bring about the following:

  • practical proposals advanced by the participants: designes, programmes, solutions, etc. on the development of a given enterprise in accordance with the game agenda;
  • a group of players, ready to implement the said proposals;
  • a native team of game-conductors, able to develop and apply the game approach in order to instigate collective thinking in a situation involving complex problems;
  • a transfer of new approaches in the development ef professional skills and habits and personal stance of an individual in the context of direct economic, scientific and technological links and cooperation between nations.

Special attention is paid to the instigation of the collective thinking in a critical situation, such as radical changes at an enterprise and so on.

The programme can be carried out within 6 Months and it will take another 6 months to process the results obtained. The programme can be implemented on a contract basis.

For an AIG to be a success the native country should be keenly interested in conducting it at one of its enterprises.

Here we would like to mention the problems and proposals which were advanced in the course of the first programme of international transfer of the AIG approach to Bulgaria.

  1. National centres for improving skills and training can contribute a lot of the development of the AIG approach in the country, but they cannot be the single carriers of this approach. For this purpose a science-intensive consumer facing a science-intensive problem is needed. This is must be a high authority, a manager of a prosperous plant, ready for innovations.
  2. In order to launch the AIG machinery at an enterprise or in a region a critical mass should be accumulated. It is not expedient to set up a team of game-conductors in the framework of a single enterprise, as there is a risk of promoting shadow-management there. It seems appropriate and this is the case in the USSR, to recruite the team at a number of enterprises of the same branch, region or country.
  3. The effect of the game can fade soon after the game is over, so in order to fix the results and to work them further out the players and game-conductors should be given a chance to interact on a temporary or a permanent basis; as to the game conductors, they should be involved in a permanent methodological seminar and research activity.

5. Major stages of the AIG cycle in Bulgaria

The arising interest in the AIG approach in Bulgaria prompted the idea of the transfer. But as a game is conducted by a relatively large team (3-4 to 15-28 participants) of higly qualified and experienced game conductors and methodologists, the initiators of the transfer met with certain difficulties. During the stay of a team of game conductors and methodologists in Botevgrad, Bulgaria in September-October, 1987, the idea was not only to display but also to apply the methods.

With this in mind the authors worked out a programme of education of a bulgarian national team which would be able to use the method independently. The absence of any methodological movement (similar to MMG) in Bulgaria made the task of the transfer still more difficult and members of the initiative group had to teach their bulgarian collegues skills and habits of AIG and raise a bulgarian methodological movement with view to prevent the AIG from becoming a set of trite methods.

It makes clear that tne primary task of the AIG initiators who stayed in Bulgaria in April-May,1988 was to conduct a minor or a start-up game which was basically educational for the national team of game conductors. And the second major or resultant game was conceived as a training course for the newly set team. Despite of the educational character of the games they were conducted on a full scale. It means that an important social problem underlied each of them and some tangible progress was made.

The first game was devoted to analysis of the current stage of perestroika (restructuring) in Bulgaria. 25 persons participated in the game that lasted 8 days. The second game dealt with the transfer of the socialist ownership on property to the personnel of a plant (Bl.Popov plant) and in a broader meaning with the ownership relations as a key-point in the development of socialism in Bulgaria (540 participated in a 7-day game). It has been already noted that a game would rather outline the solutions in principle then provide then in the ready-to-use form. Thus, it will take 1-2 to 6 Months to analyze the progress of methodology and game techniques on one hand and to work out and assimilate the theoretical and practical results of the game in a greater detail on the other.

Let us now name the basic theoretical and practical problems, which were touched upon in the two games and outline the prospects as was the case in Bulgaria.

There the bulgarian participants together with the Soviet organizers analyzed the game at the seminars on the game reflexion and in the course of the round table discussions with experts participation. Speaking about the problems involved we will not specify the game in which they were raised.

6. Essential problems, raised the AIG cycles and their possible resolution

1. The cruck of the given set of problems lies in the fact that many people (as individuals, as representatives of enterprises in various fields of activity) have not become actual and active subjects of perestroika  Subjects of social action (SSA), as the players has put it. Their passive stance can be attributed to many factors: people either do not believe in the productive character of perestroika or they are cautious about personal benefits perestroika can bring about or they wait for others to plunge into it or they are convinced that he or she shall not undergo changes in order to fit perestroika.

A grafic example is provided by the stance of some scientists who teach people what and how should be changed, neglecting the fact that they themselves should be subject to changes: as human beings, as members of a scientific community, as representatives of various enterprises (and through then the work of these enterprises can be restructured).

2. The second game diagnosed the process of socialist property transfer and showed that it was formal in character. The administration and the personnel of organizations responsible for the transfer were standing aloof having a vague idea of their obligations both in the process of property transfer (that is the first stage in the long line of changes in ownership relations) and in subsequent stages.

There was mach evidence to it.One case in point is that many of the urgently invited officials of central administration did not show to the game under the pretence of being busy, though it only proved that the problem of transfer was not among their priorities. (It is rather indicative that people from Bl.Popov plant were the most active players as for them the property transfer had become in imperative. Another case in point is that the few officials that did take part in the game raised a bunch of urgent problems; the problem of transfer, however, they rated rather low. The territorial community administration, for example, does not regard the transfer as a significant step and does not see any advantages in it, so its own stance on the point is rather vague.

Still another case in point is that many of those who have acknowledged the transfer are still rather passive. Party officials regard the transfer as a directive to be put into life (nonsensical as it is they declared : The party and the government instructed us to be inventive and independent, carrying out in particular, the transfer of socialist ownership for this purpose. And we all pledge to abide by this instruction.

The work collectives also choose to be passive (both at lower and at higher levels). They regard the transfer as a linear process where the material means of production and the responsibility for then are being shifted and or rather imposed on those on lower level, thus freeing the higher level from all the obligations. So under the circumstances being not the subject but the object of the transfer the work collectives would rather seek parochial interests (what changes in salary and wages, in physical and moral strain the transfer would entail) than worry about the progress of socialism in Bulgaria.

3. In the course of AIG cycle the futility of such a stand was graphically proved. The members of work collectives, for example, agreed that material welfare and prosperity are hinged upon the future of their children and the state of environment (the growing economic independence of enterprises may imply competition and rivalry aggreviating the problem of wellbeing).

The officials of the territorial administration including the party workers displayed more responsibility in the question of the transfer. The same is true about the members of scientific community  they acknowledged that their work should not be confined to theoretical studies and advice. In the course of the game the problems awaiting theoretical studies and the practical implementation of the scientific inventions were defined. The scientists pledged to seek solutions in a tight contact with practical workers.

4. However in the course of the games it was revealed that a mere involvement of the players in the situation modelling the transfer is insufficient.

The players who have now become the subjects of social action should be equipped with cognitive means such as instruments of cognition, models, methods of investigation and joint work, relevant to the guidline changes in the ownership relations and hence in the development of socialism in Bulgaria. There is nothing new in it for bulgarians as they can hardly distinguish the owner from the master both theoretically and practically. The transferred economic functions and the terms of ownership are not defined, an invulnerable model of management and in particular self-management is yet to be designed.

It is significant that the game not only revealed the white spots in theory but also suggested the ways of eliminating them and put forward new theoretical problems. (We would like to underline that white spots cannot be eliminated once and for all: new practice will bring about fresh problems but that time the gap between theory and practical tasks advanced by the Bulgarian authorities was to be bridged.) A thorough analysis of the game solutions should be carried out methodologically and a serious game will take another six months for the theoretical results to be developed.

The postgame analysis can be described in the following thesis:

a) The property transfer as the first stage of the changes introduced in the socialist ownership relations is an innovation and as such it should be treated in the innovational paradigm. The transfer by itself was initiated by rank-and-file workers (including those worked at Bl.Popov plant) and then adopted by higher authorities as a guidline for future development. So the major task today is to give the initiators a chance to filfill the transfer. It involves the establishment of a special committee affiliated to the territorial administration in the town of Pernik (and/or in other regions of the country where the transfer is initiated). The committee will analyze and extend the accumulated experience. The crytical analysis of the game experience and the need to transfer it will give impetus to the development of Bl.Popov plant itself. At other enterprises the transfer can be adopted and adjusted to the specific conditions and in this case it would not be regarded as another campaign imposed from above. As to the territorial administration it will define its own interest in the transfer and therefore will be able to boost the progress.

In order to intensify the process all the actual and potential participants should be involved in it as active subjects of social activity. However there are some mute points which require a thorough analysis. Still it is clear that a permanent system of management should be established, whose duties could not be reduced only to the development of a package of guiding and normative papers. This system is not designed as another administrative body. For example, management can be carried out through a series of purpose-oriented AIGs where subjects of social action are being molded and educated and programmes for them are being compiled. Consequently, a major figure, a recognized authority could influence the process a lot regardless his or her administrative position.

b) The permanent system of management will help to organize the transfer in such a way that it will not be limitted by the framework of a linear oneway process which suggests that something will be religated to a lower level and while the intermediate links are used as mere instruments of the transfer. The process also implies that every department should be clear on the obligations assumed as well as on the means and ways of interaction with other links in the chain. In the process the functions of management, ownership and use will become complex in structure, so, when the process is over each of the functions will be performed by plant or workshop collectives simultaneously or by a worker or an official and by the government, territorial,social and political bodies(Fig. 2).

In other words, when the process is over the socialist property will belong to a complex owner or co-owners and each of them will perform a specific function of ownership. With this in mind it would be wrong to state that strategic policy is a governmental prerogative. All the owners should think and act strategically. The question is how the process is organized and what commitments are taken by each owner.

c). The problem of ownership and the development of the corresponding relations in a socialist society is interconnected with the problem of progress of socialist management (self-management). But these two problems should be treated separately, otherwise the modern situation will deteriorate and none of the problems will be resolved.

Redistribution of managing functions, which are now overcentralized and performed exclusively by the upper echelons, or relegation of these functions to the lower levels will not solve the problem. The current management as a whole is obviously insufficient as it is often mixed with organizational and administrative activity. The need for self-management in a new situation in ownership relations exposed deficiency in both practice of management and in the corresponding theory. The self-management today is regarded as an element of political paradigm ( following the pattern of political democracy of the West ) which implies electivity, representation, direct and indirect contribution to the major solutions etc. Nowever, the characteristic feature of democratization and self-management in the socialist countries ( and these two phenomena are something not duly distinguished) is that they are being applied primarily to economy though in the West in the atmosphere of broad democracy they manage economy according to the stringent non-democratic rule. If the economy is ruled by the market and if independent enterprises have to compete, than economic democratization and self-management are hard to achieve. The Yugoslavian experience shows that democratic principles are often sacrificed to skilled management for the sake of economic survival and prosperity of a plant.

In practical terms self-management is often viewed as the establishement of representative bodies, that declare democratic principles and interact with administration.

d). Both management and self-management on one hand and relations of ownership on the other serve as means to improve the socialist society, yet they should not be viewed as a way to realize the values intrinsic to the socialist society or to remove the obstacles the society is currently facing. However these problems should be considered in the sane context[4]. The context may embrace the processes of social reproduction with the special priority to be attached to the reproduction of spheres of activity and subjects of social action. In this context the consideration of the above problems will not be confined to the productive and economic fields. Besides in this case the social, cultural and humanitarian activity will become of primary importance with the productive economic machinery being at its service.

The theoretical analysis of reproduction processes, designing of new instruments of reproduction and management are time- and labour-consuming. In this work we would like to touch upon only some aspects of the problem:

First. The transfer of socialist ownership and seif-management of enterprises should be viewed in the light of the short-term and long-term development of the productive or rather labour sphere. Both the transfer and self-management should be treated as instruments of the development.

Second. We should be clear on the following points:

  • what a subject of social action is, whether it is a territorial or productive community, individuals or strata groupings;
  • what are the characteristic features of a subject of social action;
  • what are the conditions and forms of a subjects activity in different spheres;
  • what are the ways and means of educating a subject (including the ways and means of self-management);
  • what abilities, knowledge and-methods of administration and management a subject should acquire;
  • how the subjects should interact with each other.

Third. The problem of reproducton and development of full-fledged subjects of social action suggests that there is a multitude of spheres of social action so their reproduction and development can be achieved only through the reproduction and development of these spheres.

Fourth. The way the above questions are stated could be considered too abstract, leading away from everyday practice. Leaving aside the importance of abstract theory and methodology for practical use we would like to note, that the above problems were put by the players who sought to resolve practical tasks. The scientific group regarded the way of life as the core-question of the transfer, the managerial group came to the conclusion that the only possible owner is human community able to reproduce itself and to provide the machinery for reproduction. In conclusion we would like to note that problem of this type and scale cannot be advanced and resolved in theory only. These are the problems which constantly occur in the development of socialist society, so they should be always formulated and resolved in theory and practice. One of the possible interface is the AIG-approach.

7. International transfer of the AIG-approach in the context of system-thought

methodology

The AIG movement is the direct continuation of the studies, carried out by Moscow Methodological Group (MMG) in short methodology of system thought implies thought-reflexive criticism and activity analysis in any field of practice[5] and programming of a particular activity.

In the course of thirty years existence MMG encountered two interconnected problems: the more sophisticated the notion and methods of the methodology became, the less they were apprehended and grasped in the criticized and programmed fields of activity, in other words the methodological programmes for a particular activity remained unfulfiled, as methodologists would not take pains in implementing them considering it none of their business, and practical workers were not too eager to carry out a programme designed by a stranger. The interface of theory and practice was gained through the AIG-approach. Here practical workers working together and guided by methodologists analized and programmed their activities, defined priorities and examined outstanding problems from different and sometimes odd standpoints.

It should be noted that ST-methodology has gained a lot from the AIG movement but simultaneousely major looses are evidently in the offing. On one hand the AIG has boosted its progress, involving more and more people eager to use it. On the other hand, a democratize and seemingly easy access to methodology via game could debase and destroy methodology in its quality of super-elite and sophisticated thinking. In the course of the games practical workers not only interact with the methodologists but also acquire skills and habits and abilities to apply methodology with a certain degree of success. But these abilities are still insufficient for an independent methodological action. Which in the course of the game is hardly distinguished from the work of a game-conductor. This circumstances and game-techniques are being debased, regarded as a set of methods and techniques easy to extrapolate. And as a result thought activity is replaced by a shabby pretence that claiming to be of utmost value, thus becoming still more miserable. All these complicated the AIG transfer a region characterized by different national, social, cultural and economic situation. Thus the AIG transfer to Bulgaria had become not an easy task. By that transfer we sought to extend the game experience and to become better aware of the difficulties and ways of AIG development inside our own country.

The AIG transfer to Bulgaria was first of all characterized by the absence of methodological ground in Bulgaria, similar to MMG. So our task was to set a methodological movement with the AIG being one of the final stages of its development. (Authors insist that they did not consider a possibility of game transfer per se, apart from ST-methodology.) Still in Moscow we planned to educate a bulgarian team of game-conductors, that would be able to apply methodology working together with soviet methodologists. Thus the soviet methodologists assumed two roles that of teachers of AIG-approach in the context of game technique and procedures that of methodologists working together with the newly-educated game-conductors thus ensuring the appropriate level of methodology in the game.

In order to equip the bulgarian team with the skills of methodology and game technique the first game was thoroughly analyzed and reflected from the standpoint of its contents, aims, methodology, technique and procedure while preparing the second game the bulgarian game-conductors participated in methodological studies of the script, summing up and analyzing the second game a special stress was placed on methodological reflexion. Our ultimate goal was to launch a methodological seminar that would study the problems advanced in the conducted games and arrange its methodological work following the patterns of the AIGs and postgame seminars.

Obviously, the main difficulty was to provide for the independent work of that permanent postgame methodological seminar (or at least of such a seminar whose members would be able to apply and to develop the acquired methodological skills and techniques). The seminar was to conduct new games and use them as a powerful impetus for its own progress.

It was also suggested that the bulgarian seminar should cooperate with the soviet MMG, adopting some of its findings.

The postgame seminars as the preparatory stage for the launch of the bulgarian methodological seminar exposed a problem that might have seemed obvious though we had notrecognized it fatality for the transfer: the accumulated knowledge of ST-Methodology cannot be planted in a stranged soil. This is another evidence of the cardinal difference between methodology and standard science, the core knowledge of which is invariable and can be used as a subject for comprehensive higher educations.

Practically speaking the accumulated experience of the games cannot be passed in the form of lectures or books: these forms run counter to the modi operandi et vivendi of ST-Methodology and AIGs as its substance. In Bulgaria we became aware that lectures on methodology delivered in the context of methodological reflexion of the AIG cycle would inevitably halt the reflexion and subsequently the methodological movement, which has initiated and proved vital within two months. And so we came to the only possible conclusion, that each time methodology should be started anew. In order to preserve its continuity and to keep it in touch with the rest of the schools all the participants should contribute to it with their own programmes and designes derived from a concrete situation and with constantly developing concepts and ideas.

In conclusion we would like to note that something of the kind it currently under the way in the USSR: the new comers would not study the methodological experience they would not read classics (absurd as it is, the books on methodology are often read by those who do not seek to become methodologists). The experience is rather gained by way of communication with the recognized methodologist, and by way of joint action in the first place. Consequently the problem of the transfer of ST-Methodology and AIGs in time and space it still awaiting solution with due regard to the problems involved. We are obliged to make this remark as in owr view the traditional scientific forms of learning are being increasingly destroyed, the way of acquiring professional skills and habits by means of knowledge is being debased. In this context methodology is playing a significant role as a new form of activity that does not follow a standard pattern. Yet more importance should be attached to the instruments of its develompent, transfer and the very existence.


[1] A fuller account of STM you can find in:
- Shchedrovitsky G.P. Mhethodology problems of system analysis. M.: Znanie, 1967; General systems. 1966. Vol. XI. PP. 27-53;
- Shchedrovitsky G.P. Principles and general outline of the methodology of the systems and structural analysis // System analysis. Methodological problems. Yearbook 1981. M.: Nauka, 1981;
- Shchedrovitsky G.P. Thinking  system and structure, content and meaning // System analysis. Methodological problems. yearbook 1986. M.: Nauka, 1987.

[2] Refer to:
- Zhincenko  A. P. Game // Architecture, 1982,  9.
- Monucharova  E., Khomchenko  M. Game as life // Izvestia. November 19, 20, 21; 1984.
- Monucharova  E., Khomchenko  M. Contest // Izvestia. March 18, 1987.
- Naumov  S. V. AIG // Priroda, 1987.
- Alekseev  N. G., Gromiko  U. V., Zlotnik  B. A. Activity inciting game: potencialities and application // Vestnik vishey shkoli. 1987,  7.
- Pestoon  I. Members of the jury at the Baikal lake // Pravda. November 25, 1988,
and others.

[3] Refer to:
- Baranov P.V., Sazonov  B.V. An activity-inciting game on Strategic development of an enterprise in unspecified situation. M.: International Research institute. Management scineces. 1987, 26 p.
- Baranov P.V., Sazonov  B.V. Game approach to stimulating communication, thought and activity. M.: 1988, 131 p.
- Baranov P.V., Sazonov  B. V., Yankov D. An activity-inciting game cycle on the restructing in Bulgaria. M.: 1988, 144 p.
-       . -        //  , 17-18  1988.

[4] It is not seldom that democracy is regarded as a value in itself and the changes in ownership relations (the property transfer in this case) are introduced in order to avoid economic dead-locks that an overcentralized burocratic state is prone to meet.

[5] By practice we mean everything that is opposed to methodology and in this sense theoretical activity is identified with practical activities.

 
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