Captain Kevin M. Smith, U. S. Navy (Ret.)

Presentation Summary

The New Reality: Mastering Complexity

Complex problems, situations and things behave counter-intuitively: That is, the plausible tends to be wrong.

-- J. W. Forrester

Welcome to the new Reality. Your customer has a problem. No, this is not all that unusual, problems will occur in the course of any business or military operation. And so you have a choice. You can either:

1) Treat this like any other problem as a “One-Off” event, assign whomever is available, and hope for the best. Or

2) Strive to understand everything possible about the problem space, and if the problem is both Complex & Mission Critical, assign those especially trained for such an occasion.

Optimizing Performance When Conditions are Not Normal

Some Key Questions

All problems are not the same. Some are more complex and mission critical than others. Treating problems all the same will lead to mission failure and catastrophe (Dorner, 1998). Are we prepared for the most challenging situation?

Problems cannot be solved unless they are fully understood. Are we able to “clarify the actual”?

Complex problem solving is now the most in-demand skill-set in the global job market (MACAT). This Cognitive Resource is now the most important corporate resource. How do we manage such a resource?

Wicked problems are defined as those occurrences that are at once Complex and Mission Critical. Are we prepared for such an event? (Smith, Larrieu 2015)

The Elite Problem Solver

The Elite Problem Solver is an individual formally trained in “Critical Decision Making”: That is, in the ability to formulate optimum solutions to problems that are at once Complex and Mission Critical.

This we will discuss.

Related Video:

The Superfunction: Optimizing Performance in Large Scale Dynamic Systems. Distributed by IGI-Global.


Captain Smith is a noted Author, Speaker, Design Consultant, and expert in the field of Optimizing Performance in Mission Critical Environments. As a Naval Aviator, Captain Smith lead efforts to Optimize Performance of all Air Combat Flight Crews, and later as a design leader, initiated efforts to upgrade all Airline Pilot Training Programs for all US based Airlines.

Captain Smith is the author of Books, Articles, Webinars, and Instructional videos, published by IGI-Global; all pertaining to Performance Optimization.

Captain Smith is a former Squadron Commander, Commander of the first forward deployed “Top Gun” unit, holds ATP ratings in Five modern Air Transport Aircraft including the Boeing-777, has accumulated more than 25,000 flight hours, and is a distinguished graduate of the Naval Air Academy (Supersonic Pipeline).