Thursday, June 02, 2005

Decisions update 1

Recently I said I'd be focusing more on my decision-making processes to see what I could learn. Here's a quick update:

  • I do more mental simulations of possible courses of action than I realized. I may be doing somewhat more due to the power of suggestion from Gary Klein's recognition-primed decision model, but I don't think I've changed my approach that much yet. Making those simulations more explicit helps me be more thorough in my decision-making activities.

  • Perhaps because of training I've had or perhaps because of cautions I learned from Human Error, I generally throw in at least one alternative to reduce the chance that I get stuck on an inappropriate choice. I must admit that I rarely have to make the sort of split-second decisions Klein describes in his work with firefighters.

  • The notion of simulating fits squarely with other parts of the work I do. Barry Richmond has noted that we often struggle both with creating useful mental models and then simulating them to understand their implications.

    • His notion that we often are better served, at least at the outset, by broader and shallower models rather than by deeper and narrower ones seems consistent with the idea of looking, no matter how briefly, at alternatives and with some of the ideas Reason suggests for not getting stuck on a bad answer.
    • His notion that we need to improve the fidelity of our simulation capabilities seems related both to Klein's ideas and to work done by Dietrich Dörner.

So, what am I doing next?

  • I'll continue to observe and reflect on my decisions.
  • I'll put more focus on creating simulation models as a test bed for the sorts of decisions I have make (as opposed to being more of a problem-solving tool), and I'll work with interested clients to help them do the same.

Stay tuned, and chime in!



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