All entries for March 2013

March 28, 2013

Avoiding traps in decision making with four ACES

Today tried to find solutions to some difficulties or traps that person might fall into and found the four ACES. Don’t know how to call them…set of principles, method or even a framework as it has some guidance how to follow those ACES?

Starting from the traps, I could defined the main four. Sometimes people are accepting a course of action without giving it enough thought. Another time people are just changing to a different course of action without deep considerations, because they might want to avoid a conflict or too shy to insist on their opinion or any other reason. Also they can stuck and be unable to decide between alternatives (this is usually my case). And, finally, they just might have insufficient time for vigilance.

In that case to avoid these traps the four ACES (Assumptions; Criteria; Evoked Set; Start) can be applied:

  • Assumptions — team member has to challenge others by creating counter-assumptions. This will bring new ideas into the discussion and help to come with better criteria and more alternatives;
  • Criteria — team member has to challenge others by reversing the weights;
  • Evoked Set — challenge by expanding the set or alternatives;
  • Start — now it is a time to follow up with personal action plan.

These four components cannot bring their whole value without three main phases: preparation, where team, firstly, identify the problem that they have to solve or the question that they need to answer; present view, where they try to capture on paper a representation of the problem by listing the alternatives and criteria of importance on this problem; finally, modified view, where individual now writes the counter-assumption for each assumption and discuss it with the group. This method can seems to be simple but, from my experience, simple things usually work much better then the complex one. Next time I’ll try it with my decision.

March 24, 2013

Is decision making process the same as model???

Today I was very confused by two different terms with almost the same meanings. Process or model? Lots of authors replace “decision making model” term with the “decision making process”. I can assume that they have something in common, for example the decision making cycle. Starting both with determine the requirements for the decision (time, amount of support, its importance), they then switch on the participants (all members provide the input or request more information). Later the alternatives have to be defined with their pros and cons. Check if the group come to some agreement or not. Identify the criteria for making decision and then choose the methodology with its tools that can be applied. Finally, by gathering and analyzing information group will come to a certain decision.

To my mind, these two terms have lots of other similarities. However, “the model” involves the approach which sometimes changes the whole “process of decision making”. The approach can be also known as a “philosophy” it can sets the clock and define how group will come to a certain decision. Thus, I think, model involves the process, and its term is more broader then “the process” term.

March 14, 2013

Decision–making strategies in Six Sigma Projects

I finally got my book from amazon “The Project Leader’s Handbook”, PMI. I bought it to write my project and I didn’t expect that it would be so helpful in analyzing decision-making process. There was a chapter about decision-making strategies that leaders use in teams, - if I only knew this before doing our Wave Riders case! The type of strategy varies according to the extent to which team reach a consensus. To my opinion, this is actually very important point, because biases usually appear when the decision was made and the consensus was not reached. To that point, there are following strategies:

  • Autocratic. One person makes decision. Very quick and the responsibility is clear, but no feedback and limited number of alternatives.
  • Expert. The most knowing person makes decision. Again responsibility is clear and no additional research needed. The negative thing here is that there is no feedback.
  • Autocratic with input from the team. One person makes decision after asking for opinion of others. The benefits are obvious here. The negative side is that the frustration can happen due to the lack of follow-up.
  • Majority Rule. Democratic approach and very quick. But! Responsibility here is unclear and some members might still lose.
  • Consensus. Not all satisfied with decision but are willing to support it. All members are involved and give the feedback. Not so quick as other strategies.
  • Unanimous Consent. Everyone fully agrees on the decision. This is of course the best scenario, however, it might never happen.

Describing these strategies with their advantages and disadvantages I can now say that we were using three of them in certain period of time. The Expert strategy (as we hade a person who was really strong in finance analysis); the majority rule (when we were short in time and, thus, were forced to come quickly to the conclusion); the consensus (this was our main strategy and we followed it in most cases).

I have to admit, that there is a perfect CONSENSUS strategy when all members consent to a decision, but in reality, there are different conditions and circumstances, which actually define which strategy to apply. Therefore, I guess, in our team we were following not the best strategy but every time most appropriate one.

March 13, 2013

Decision aiding process

All books and articles are full with information about how to make right decisions and there, probably, few of them which mention how to actually analyze the decision-making methodologies. Basically, what is now happening with our RBM PMA?, - we are trying to make our own decision on how the decisions should be made. So confused! Then, the question appears: can we assess methodologies that we were using in our team work by using the same methodologies? Other words, for example, can I apply Grid Analisys to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of other decision tools (including Grid, itself) and then conclude which could be more appropriate? This situation actually looks as a closed circle, in my opinion. To be more specific, it looks as Deming PDCA cycle:

During team work:

  • Plan: We were trying to plan how we will reach our decision in group;
  • Do: We were collecting information and decide on tools;
  • Check: Checked if our tools appropriate choice for our information;
  • Act: Present our team project.

During writing PMA:

  • Plan: Planning which approach in assessing team-project I go for;
  • Do: Find articles and books;
  • Check: Check if I am on the right direction and answering PMA question;
  • Act: Writing and submit my PMA.

And this is how it actually should be all the time. We are studying using PDCA cycle and then analyze what we learned and how we can apply this knowledge in the future, again through PDCA cycle.

March 11, 2013

Decision making models

Starting to work on my PMA I thought, - what can be my approach in analyzing how our group was reaching every decision? I mean, when doing critical analysis, shell I go straight into the comparing and contrasting the methodologies, or it will be better to work on different types of judgments that we made? I guess, the approach to this analysis should be more holistic. To be more specific, the whole model of how the decision was made can be studied in details, taking into consideration its main elements: processes, tools and resources. However, doing analysis in such way could be very difficult as, firs of all, the researcher will have to decide on model that he or she will use.

Let’s consider the most common decision-making models:

  1. The Rational Model (uses mainly quantitative analysis; it assumes if the a given variable cannot be assigned a numeric value, it should be disregarded; applied in closed environment with precise number of variables);
  2. The Organizational Model (combines the behavioral approach with quantitative analysis; consider external environment; oriented towards short-term results; the decisions that have to be made can contradict to each other, therefore the target is not to reach a maximum of advantages but an acceptable level of satisfaction);
  3. The Process or Managerial Model (also combines the behavioral approach with quantitative analysis; also considers external environment; oriented towards long-term results).

Choosing from those three, it is obvious that the Rational Model will be the least preferable, as its main focus on numerical data and closed environment. We can consider to apply either Organizational or Managerial Models, but!!! it’s better to decide on the last one, as it more long-term oriented and have has a planning mode which is not apparent in the organizational model. Thus, after making decision on the model that is appropriate to current situation with Wave Riders, I can now move forward to compare proposed model with th? actual one that were applied in our team...


March 09, 2013

Traps in making decisions

Filling in the assessment sheets for our presentation we tied to analyze our strengths and weaknesses. While doing it, I thought that analysis can be made in another way, considering mind traps that were presented during lectures.

  • The psychology of thinking. We were working as a team, each team member is an individual with their own way of thinking. So, some, for example, make deductive decisions, and others, - inductive. Thus, it is obvious that everyone will try to apply their psychology of thinking.
  • Social Conditioning. Of course, when we were working in the team, some leaders came up naturally, and those two leaders had just opposite approaches. In that situation, in my opinion, group was trying to adapt to both styles and avoid biases in decision-making.
  • Illogical thinking. Illogical thinking first came when we just went straight to calculation, skipping the work on building and forming our approach of how we will make decision.
  • Errors. Our errors usually appeared in Decision Tree Analysis when we had to calculate some figures or consider another branch of the tree.

Overall, it was very useful to experience and make decisions during teamwork; it presented different approaches, showed the biases of each team member and proved how different we can be in our jujments.

March 08, 2013

Data collection as a key step in making decision

Today we had presentations. Although each group presented and came to certain decisions about WaveRiders in their own way, still there were some common decision tools that almost each group tried to apply. These are Decision Tree Analysis and Grid Analysis. Hence the question arises: what made almost every group to use these two tools?

As it was mentioned during lectures, we usually decide on tool considering different information: the amount of data, timescale, complexity of decision, number of participants in decision and factors in the decision. All these are types of information needed to decide on tool, which highlights the importance of one process, - data collection. So, as I saw it today, Grid and Tree Analysis is a good combination of how you can analyze both, different scenarios and decision criteria. When doing Grid we mainly focus on options’ comparison based on criteria analysis, while in Tree we analyze various combinations of situations.

Type of data for each of them:

  • Grid. Both, Qualitative + quantitative data
  • Tree Analysis. Possibilities + numerical data

To sum up, these two tools can be effectively used separately, but to my opinion they are compliment each other and help to make more complex decision. For example, our tree analysis showed best and worst scenarios for two locations. That information was used as criteria for Grid Analysis that defined our decision.

March 07, 2013

Decision framing – different individual approaches

Observing current situation in our group, I can now clearly see who uses the particular approach in the way they come to decision. As we all knows, commonly, everybody follows the same decision framing started from identifying the question and options then going into choosing the criteria and finished by making a decision. However, what the actual experience showed to me there are other ways how you can go about making decisions:

  1. Structural approach. Basically, this is an approach how we decided to deal with problem. We identified the problem, its options and started work on criteria. After having all this information, we found appropriate decision making tools.
  2. Quantitative approach. In our group we have a guy who always try to switch from structural approach to calculations. Usually what happens with him, - we are on our way to make decision by analyzing the criteria for comparison and he, suddenly, break the conversation with showing the results of his financial analysis. On one hand this is very distractive way of working that draw us away from our initial decision making strategy, on the other hand, his quantitative approach is very helpful and contributes a lot to the structural approach by adding new criteria.
  3. Just jump into it. To, my mind, this is a worst approach, when we don’t do any analysis of how we will come to decision but just go strait to calculations and even possible solutions. This approach excludes any deep analysis in the beginning which, in turns, prevent you from making a good decision. This was our approach in the beginning.

Overall, there are many other approaches, these were just a few that I were able to observe in our team. To my mind, there is no one specific approach that can be applied in a certain context, but there is usually a mix of different approaches that in the end brings team to best solution.

March 05, 2013

Social bias on practice

To my mind, working on a project with the team is the perfect research field for exploring and analyzing social biases on practice. Actually, I even can’t say that this specific task is difficult but the way in which we work together, constant debates and different perceptions of how we can go about this task – are the main issues that we dealing with.

So, what does affect our progress in team working? Considering lectures’ materials, I have an assumption that the root is in the set of personal biases. It’s for sure that each individual have there own biases in decision-making. Now imagine group of individuals, each with their own perceptions, judgments and attitude to work, - now teamwork is becoming a mess and chaos, that is difficult to control.

Solution has to be find in order to learn how to work together effectively and have only constructive discussions which aim is not to argue but came to one optimal decision. Before providing solution, I have to admit, I was very skeptical to standards and regulations that companies usually apply to team meetings, but now, I see them as very useful tools that can improve discussion process and minimize the time of decision making. I found some examples of these procedures:

  • PepsiCo. Doing it in a SMART way. Firstly, the Specific topic should be chosen before the meeting. Secondly, group tries to identify the Measurements of this problem. They then, decide if this measurements are Attainable or not, other words, if it possible and real to collect data on these measurements. After, team go back to the problem and see if their work is Relevant and check if they still on the right track. Finally, team puts boundaries, such as Time to decision to be made.
  • Philip Morris has its own formula for meetings. Defining Agenda => Sending brief to all participants.=> Monitoring the meeting and forming the report by using RASCI (responsibility, accountability, support, advice and information)

What our group stops from setting an agenda before the meeting, then exchange the found information and in the meeting put it all together? Seems to be logical and right but in reality sometimes we forget about formal prosidures even if they are extrimly useful.


March 2013

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Most recent comments

  • I would say knowledge "lean" folks understand the and the need to respect people (share success and … by John Hunter on this entry
  • Come on Cheryl, these all are just my observations based on lectures materials!))) by Arina Borodina on this entry
  • i think u get a lot material to write ur PMA!! good for u by Tzu-i Yang on this entry
  • Your welcome and I couldn't agree more with your post. Indeed many companies have heads and not lead… by Lorraine Karuku on this entry
  • Thank you for comment! And I totally agree with you that "we need good quality leadership to improve… by Arina Borodina on this entry

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