Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

We’ve been talking on our blog recently about supporting crisis decision making through information management, and attempting to speed up the OODA Loop. On the last post we highlighted the principles of managing decisions and making sure they achieve what you intended them to. This post looks at how to actually take those crisis decisions in the first instance. It is useful to have a decision-making system that is thorough enough to be effective but not so laborious as to induce delay. We also need a process that allows for intuition and experience to play a part but doesn’t allow for sloppy analysis.  The next seven questions are just such a process.

(1) What is the situation and what does it mean to you? – Understand as much about the situation as you can. Don’t ignore aspects just because the information isn’t there or you don’t understand it. Identify your critical information requirements and get them resolved. Once you have a grip on what is actually going on be clear on the meaning for you, your staff and your clients and any other interested parties.

(2) What end state result do I need to achieve and why? Define the end state that you need to reach and why that is the case, that is the unifying purpose behind what you are doing. This will inform and focus the decisions you take. Make sure others are clear on this end state and its rationale, as this will inform their decisions as well.

(3) What effects need to take place to get to the end state? Define the key effects that need to be achieved to deliver the end state. Effects are not tasks but rather the results of tasks. Examples of effects might include enhanced staff confidence, client reassurance or favourable reporting by the media.

(4) How can the effects best be achieved? Decide how the effects can best be achieved and when and where this should take place. This will help you set down the tasks that are required to deliver the effects.

(5) What resources are required? Take a look at the tasks you have defined. See if they can be combined in some fashion and then decide who is best to undertake each task. Allocate sufficient resources to enable the tasks to be carried out.

(6) In what sequence do the tasks need to occur? Set down the sequence that the tasks need to be carried out in to achieve the desired effects. The sequencing of these tasks is effectively the plan.

(7) How are the tasks to be controlled? Put in place the measures that will enable the conduct of the tasks to be monitored and controlled. This may include aspects such as timings for completion, reporting processes, demarcated lines of responsibility, geographical boundaries etc.