All entries for Friday 18 March 2011

March 18, 2011

Decision Tree: How do I love thee. Let me count the ways

How do i love thee? let me count the ways.
I love thy depth of analysing every possible result.
Taking all choices of alternatives into full account.
Through the grace of your incredibly flexibility.
We can have such varying levels of complexity.
Simple trees of only decision nodes.
Spiced up with a sprinkling of random chance nodes.
Qualitative data like cost thrown in the mixture.
Makes expected present value of outcomes a calculable fixture.
Decisions made easier all thanks to thee.
Oh how I love thee, decision tree.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I like decision tree....

A quick mention must by made of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who of course wrote the original "How do I love thee?" poem.

Moving On

Right, then. Catching up on my thoughts slowly. I never realised decision making could become such a complex task involving such a variety of methods. Honestly, I also didn't think that so many tools were needed just to make decisions when we first went over them.

I know the need for moving from system 1 thinking to system 2 thinking is important, and that bias must be avoided. But really... soooo many complex toold and methodologies?

Quick catch-up for those that haven head the terms of systems 1/system 2 thinking. System 1 thinking is intuitive thinking, the quick and almost instinctive initial responses based on emotions. System 2 thinking is a more systematic approach to thinking based on slow, careful and logical though processes.

We covered tools such as simple grid analysis, decision trees, ahp, pairwise comparison, pareto, simulations, pmi, and more... Still too many in my book, but yet they all seem to have a useful purpose. This personal contradiction is probably due to the fact I haven't been in a situation yet where a decision is complex enough to warrant such depth of thought that is provided by some of these tools. At least thats what I thought at first. After thinking about them for awhile I realised that I, and probably every else who faces decisions daily, will to a certain degree carry out cognitive processes similar to those presented in the tools when considering simple choices. I'm give an example. Fast food. For me I'm at times faced by the hard choice of McDonalds or Burger King and now that I think about it, my choice has always been determined by a going through a quick grid comparison to decide. Decided which has the best burger, the best fries, the cheapest food, and then giving each of those a weight depending on my current situation (do i crave a burger, am i after masses of fries, or am I broke again) to make a final choice. Thinking about this was like a mini moment of realisation that actually, too many decision tools or methodologies was a silly thought and even subcontiously we can already be using them on a day to day basis, let alone when approaching more complex decisions.

Continued reflections – Do you see what you want to see?

Further to my comments on bias, and finding confirmation of something one knows. Here is a fanctastic video that we were shown on the first day of this module I just had to share. Something that for many really emphasised the point of only seeing what you want to see.

March 2011

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