The IEEE Spectrum Online, Tech Talk, a weekly Blog, discussing topics chosen by Susan Hassler, IEEE Spectrum's Editor-in-Chief, issued on October 13th the post FINAL REPORT: BLACKOUT ACTION NEEDED, where I added the only three comments posted so far. I suggest reading those comments too, if you are interested in the generative dialogue.
Jim Carson seems to enter into a very radical opinion when he says that “We do NOT need yet ANOTHER investigation. The blackout has been investigated ad nauseum. We already know what happened.”
As can be seen in the Final Report, however, a totally different story exists: “… the ultimate impact of the source failure was compounded by "long-standing institutional failures and weaknesses that need to be understood and corrected in order to maintain reliability.”
Secretary Bodman is more conservative than Jim when he says “I appreciate the hard work and diligence that went into this important report. It demonstrates that while improvements are being made to enhance grid reliability, we still have a very complex system that is subject to possible mechanical and human failures. We must remain vigilant." Phrases like “need to be understood,” “very complex system,” “must remain vigilant,” denote that they still don’t know what happened.
In addition, admission that there are "long-standing institutional failures and weaknesses that need to be understood and corrected in order to maintain reliability,” can be the ground for an independent investigation, or better yet a generative dialogue by itself, which I repeat “… should consider fully both the institutional memory and the sound research done by Fred C. Schweppe and colleagues, from 1978-1988, not in a debate, but in a generative dialogue, to resolve most of the flaws identified by Casazza, Delea and Loehr, and also to break the barriers to the emergent innovations flowing into the industry.”
Since the Final Report stresses that “… we have a very complex system…,” I also reiterate that “[S]ystemic thinking, scenarios, system dynamics, mental models are tools to help us approach system complexity. An explanation based on simple cause and effect, mechanistic thinking, is generally insufficient to explain system complexity…”
I am willing to change my opinion to change the need for an independent investigation to that of generative dialogue, and the remaining sentence would read “[T]hose tools should be used fully, since “[a generative dialogue] is needed of all the issues raised by the blackout and other reliability problems to ascertain that all necessary remedial actions have been taken, as PEST suggest and the GMH extends.”
© 2007. José Antonio Vanderhorst Silverio, Ph.D.