PPD - past meetings archive

Sounder Decision Making for Public Policy

Venue: SB31, Denys Holland Lecture Theatre, Bentham House, University College London, WC1H 0EG
Speaker: John Friend, Prof. Leroy White & others
Date: Tuesday, 04 December 2018 at 14:30 - 17:00

One of the key challenges outlined in John Friend’s 2017 Beale lecture on Linking Public Policy Worlds is the need to build fresh momentum in the use of OR problem structuring tools in public policy design. The purpose of this event is to launch a new inter-university initiative whereby schools with an OR capability collaborate with policy-relevant disciplines, and with governmental agencies.

The meeting agenda comprises:


Dr John Friend: 1960s-70s, early lessons

Prof Mike Batty, UCL: 1970s-80s, urban planning uptake

Prof Leroy White, Warwick University: 1980-2000s, corporate support

Dr Ine Steenmans, UCL: 2000s, changes in policy practice


Dr Irene Pluchinotta, Kings College: Showcase of policy option methods

Dr Ine Steenmans, UCL: Experimental projects and courses 

3.30  Coffee break


Ruth Kaufman, Past-President ORS OR Society perspective
Ian Mitchell, BEIS GORS & policy analyst perspective
Rob Angell, RK Partnership Independent practitioner perspective


5.00 CLOSE.

We will head to the Resting Hare pub near Euston station after close for some further relaxed discussion. Woburn Walk, WC1H 0JW

INTERESTED? Then a suggested first step is for you to apply for a FREE place at our half-day event at UCL in central London on 4th December 2018. 

It is planned in 2019 to follow this event by further programme-building activities in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Sustainable Policies for water management in New Zealand’s Canterbury plains - An application of problem structuring methods in shaping water management strategy

Venue: BEIS, 1 Victoria Street, London , SW1H 0ET
Speaker: Dr. Bryan Jenkins
Date: Wednesday, 14 February 2018 at 15:00 - 17:00

Abstract : A long-running project to develop a new Water Management Strategy for New Zealand’s prime agricultural region of Canterbury had reached a critical juncture in 2009 when an opportunity arose to introduce a different approach.  This was the strategic choice approach, developed by UK operational researchers from research into the intricate inter-organisational processes through which public policies are developed through time.  The upshot was an invitation to John Friend, co-author of the leading text on this approach [Planning under Pressure: 3rd edition, Routledge 2005] to visit New Zealand in February 2009 to co-facilitate a two-day workshop for members of the project’s multi-stakeholder steering group.  Drawing selectively on the extensive technical analyses and stakeholder consultations already conducted, the project management team agreed a set of seven key policy areas and four broader strategic orientations as a starting point for dialogue to explore the subtle links between options to be reviewed in building an agreed strategy.  This was done through building up a strategic map in the form of a grid of labelled stickers spread across a long wall in the workshop room.

The view of strategic options developed in the workshop provided a shared canvas on which the members of the steering group and management team were subsequently able to get to grips with entrenched differences in outlook and engage in consultations towards agreement on a strategy and a set of operational policies.  These have since stood the test of time, despite changes both in political control and institutional structure in the years that followed.  This success story adds to a growing body of other instances in which the strategic choice approach has been adopted in addressing the daunting challenges of water and sanitation planning in both the developed and developing worlds.

Jenkins, BR [Springer 2018]: A Sustainability Framework for Water Management in New Zealand’s Canterbury Region.  Publication imminent

 Dr. Jenkins is a prominent Australian environmental Scientist who served for seven years as chief executive of Environment Canterbury, the council for New Zealand’s prime agricultural region with responsibilities which include natural resource management. 

 If interested in attending please e-mail Ian Mitchell at [email protected]

Bridging the gap between analysis and implementation

Venue: Dstl Portsdown West (PO17 6AD)
Speaker: Various
Date: Friday, 16 October 2015 at 10:00 - 16:00

Are you an OR practitioner who has overcome challenges in getting your findings adopted? Or an academic who also has insights to share? Then this event is for you!

The Behavioural OR, Decision Analysis, Defence and Public Policy Design SIGs are holding a joint event focussed on 'Bridging the gap between analysis and implementation'. The aims for the event are to identify common success factors for the ready exploitation of analysis products and to identify knowledge gaps that should be addressed through research.

The morning session will comprise a number of short talks from a mix of OR academics and practitioners including Prof. Colin Eden (Strathclyde University), Mr. Peter Miles (Catalyze Consulting), Mr. Max Moullin (Sheffield Business School), Mr. Rob Solly (Dstl), Prof. Leroy White (Warwick University) and Dr. Mike Yearworth (University of Bristol).

The afternoon session will comprise two interactive workshops to identify (i) common success factors for the ready exploitation of analysis products and (ii) knowledge gaps that should be addressed through research.

Places are limited and so if you have not already registered for this event then please contact Peter Miles – petermiles(at)catalyzeconsulting.com - no later than Thursday 8th October.

Event Committee

POC: David Lowe - david.lowe(at)dstl.gov.uk

Second meeting of the PPD SIG

Venue: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET
Date: Monday, 30 March 2015 at 11:00 - 15:00  

Our second meeting will be held at:

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET

30th March 2015 11:00-15:00

A detailed agenda will be available on the website shortly.

OR and Design meeting

Venue: RIBA, London
Speaker: Ian Newsome, Giles Hindle, Rob Solly, Camilla Buchanan (Design Council) and others TBC
Date: Tuesday, 10 March 2015 at 10:30 - 16:00

Geoff Royston is organising a meeting between the OR Society, the Design Society and the Design Council to develop networks between OR and Design. The meeting will feature a range of speakers from OR and Design. Camilla Buchannan from the Design Council and Rob Solly will be talking about similarities between the application of Design and Problem Structuring Methods to public policy.

First General Meeting of the PPD SIG

Venue: OR Society Offices, Birmingham
Speaker: Rob Solly, Rob Angell
Date: Monday, 01 December 2014 at 14:00 - 16:00


The OR Society’s newest special interest group (SIG) aims to advance interest in, and the use of, O.R. in improving public policy design at local, regional, national and international levels. 

Our meetings will be designed to develop initiatives and cross- fertilise ideas by bringing together a wide range of interested parties, including:

  • O.R. practitioners from GORS and Dstl supporting UK central government
  • OR Society members supporting local and regional government;
  • researchers and teachers in academia;
  • other professions that are active in supporting public policy, including designers, social and political scientists;
  • those charged with developing public policy;
  • those with parallel interests in other European countries and other continents.

The inaugural meeting of the Public Policy Design SIG will take place at the OR Society’s Birmingham office (Seymour House, 12 Edward Street, Birmingham, B1 2RX), from 2.00 pm to 4.30 pm on Monday 1 December. Refreshments will be available from 1.30 pm and any early starters are welcome to join us for lunch from 12.00 pm just around the corner in the Prince of Wales pub (84 Cambridge St, Birmingham, B1 2NP). 

Extending the Impacts of O.R. in Public Policy

Venue: LSE’s Rosebery Hall Conference Centre, 90 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TY
Date: Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 14:00 - 17:00

An Agenda For a New Special Interest Group of the Society

This open half-day event offers an opportunity to review the prospects for extending the already significant contributions of the operational research community to the development of public policies, with particular emphasis on approaches to policy design and stakeholder engagement.

Shaping Choices in Public Policy – a Problem Structuring Approach

Venue: Royal Society
Speaker: Sir Richard Mottram, Rob Angell, Commodore Willie Entwisle and Al Irvine, Professor Eileen Munro and Professor David Lane
Date: Thursday, 05 June 2014 TBC

There is no escaping the fact we live in an age where complex challenges arise in many fields of public policy, and within these fields there are multiple sources of uncertainty and a diverse range of stakeholders. Making progress towards commitment is demanding and Operational Researchers have developed problem structuring approaches and tools which are proven help to policymakers who engage with stakeholders and address these uncertainties.

The intention of this meeting at the Royal Society is to introduce these approaches through examples of their use and stimulate debate. The event is split into a keynote, a presentation of case studies and a panel discussion to close it.

The Future Influence of OR on Public Policy Making

Venue: LSE Rosebery Hall
Date: Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 16:00 - 18:00

What can today’s and tomorrow’s OR practitioners contribute to the design of processes for developing public policies to address the complexities, uncertainties and political intricacies of our 21st century world? 

If you are attracted to this challenge, you are encouraged to apply for a place at this free event in London.  It is the first of two planned within the Operational Research Society’s new charitable project on the Future Policy Influence of OR, ledby John Friend, one of the pioneers of the Institute for Operational Research which was launched 50 years ago this year.  IOR was formed as a joint enterprise of the UK OR Society and London’s not-for-profit Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, with the aim of expanding the reach of OR in the broad sphere of public policy, in close association with social scientists. 

From this initiative came a range of insights into the challenges of policy in practice, not only from the perspectives of policy makers but also from those of the various recipients – who may often become subject to severe policy stress as they try to make decisions within policy guidelines from different sources and levels of accountability.  From such insights came innovations in practice that have gradually attracted a wide and diverse following among policy professionals, consultants and academics in the UK and overseas.  The question now arises of how this global momentum of innovation can be sustained and extended, with new generations of OR practitioners continuing to play pioneering roles alongside partners in other policy-relevant disciplines.   

John Friend will begin by outlining how three early IOR projects in realms of divided accountability – construction, hospital management and city government – were followed by more extensive programmes of investigation into policy processes for four different UK government departments.  In parallel, research council grants were awarded for a broader series of projects designed to explore the complex inter-organisational dynamics of policy change, ranging across fields of public policy and levels of accountability from the widest to the most local.  There followed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s a gradual dispersal of IOR’s senior staff, followed by an increasing diffusion of their influence within Europe and beyond.  

As other speakers will indicate, there are now champions in several parts of the world who have continued to innovate in designing formats that bring parties together across boundaries to make sustained progress towards agreed policies and actions, with support from a flexible array of largely visual communication aids. The evidence already available in published books and journal articles has recently been complemented by a collection of unpublished working papers accessible through an IOR legacysection of the document repository on the OR Society’s website.  

It is planned at this event to launch an informal network to bring together concerned members of the OR Society with representatives of a range of public policy professions, drawing on the facilities of the Society’s website.  The intention is that this network can become a catalyst to continued progress in developing a national and global resource base for applied policy science both within the service of governmental agencies and beyond.  Important questions arise over how the development of such a resource base can be strengthened by investments in new forms of training course, research programme and decision support technology.  It is expected that this first event will act as a trigger to further mobilisation of resources, with further progress to be reported by the time of the second project event planned for the spring of 2014.