A Better Decision Making Model
What's the ideal decision making model?
It is hard often to see the full consequences of a decisions upfront. What we need is a 'crystal ball' that can foresee all the consequences imagined and not imagined by the decision makers depending on their experience of the subject area, prior beliefs and assumptions.
Decisions usually involve the selection from a list of alternatives.
There are two broad approaches to a decision making model
Intuitive Decision Making
Rational Decision Making
How can we combine them to form the best that can handle important
People tend to leap to an immediate intuitive choice, but according to Paul Thagard people should follow a procedure something like the following (He calls it an Informed Intuition model):
Informed Intuition is a much more complicated process of decision making, but here are the steps:
- Set up the decision problem carefully. This requires identifying the goals to be accomplished by your decision and specifying the broad range of possible actions that might accomplish those
- Reflect on the importance of the different goals. Such reflection will be more emotional and intuitive than just putting a numerical weight on them, but should help you to be more aware of what you care about in the current decision situation. Identify goals whose importance may be exaggerated because emotional distortions
- Examine beliefs and assumtions about the extent to which various actions would facilitate the different goals. Are these beliefs based on good evidence? If not, revise them.
- Make your intuitive judgment about the best action to perform, monitoring your emotional reaction to different options. Run your decision past other people to see if it seems reasonable to them.
This procedure combines the strengths and avoids the weaknesses of the intuition and the rational or calculation models of decision making.
Like the intuition decision making model, it recognizes that decision making is an unconscious process that involves emotions.
Like the calculation or rational decision making model, it aims to avoid decision errors caused by unsystematic and unexamined intuitions.
One drawback of the Informed Intuition procedure is that it is not so objective as the calculation model, in which the numerical weights and calculations can be laid out on the table for all to see. decisions?
Making reasoning explicit in decisions helps to communicate to all the people involved what the relevant goals, actions, and facilitation relations might be. If communication is effective, then the desired result will be that each decision maker will make a better informed intuitive decision about what to do.
It would certainly be a useful exercise in many cases for people to go through the steps of producing a calculation in order to provide some information about how different people are seeing the situation.
Ultimately, however the individual decision makers will have to make decisions based on their own intuitive judgments about what is the right thing to do.
The members of the group may be poor at specifying the emotional weights they put on different goals, and they may be unaware of their assumptions about the extent to which different actions facilitate different goals.
Achieving consensus among a group of decision makers may require extensive discussion that reveals the goals and beliefs of decision makers to themselves as well as to others.
It is much easier to identify emotional distortions in others than in yourself. The discussion, including the exercise of working through a calculation together, may help the members of the group converge on evaluations of goal importance and belief plausibility that produce a shared reaction of emotional coherence.
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