All entries for March 2011

March 19, 2011

Final Day Decision

2 weeks of work on our decision making presentation.

Countless hours arguing over the fine point of various tools, the scales we schould use, the weighting and their justifications.

Numerous days off ill.

More time spent in uni than home....

And finally it was here. Our presentations for waveriders strategic choice. We were plesently surprised to see others among us who had thought similarly out of the box with the solutions, impressed by the detail and complexity embraced by some using tools such as ahp, and intrigued by the different results and figures achieved by those who used the same tools as us for the same problem. FOr me, the last point just goes to show that no matter what you do, ridding yourself of bias in decisions is an impossible task. Even when using decision tools to minimise it, bias exists. For example in thr decision tree... what order do you put in chance and decision events? Or in simple grid analysis tables, when the order or preferences are known for factors, what actual weighting is appropriate. How much better is each factor than the other? It seems there is no correct answer, only a justified one. Any decision can be said to contain bias, but in approaching these with system 2 thinking, using various tools to minimise bias, what we can do is justify why we choose what we do. To every individual this process may result in a different solution for the same problem. What does this mean? There is not necessarily a right answer, just a good, reasoned answer.

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 17, 2011

A world of belated bias

I have unfortunately been neglecting my blogging once more. Times have filled with much work, some illness, and some being out of the county. This has led to a yet again unfortunate situation of a backlog of thoughts of our week and a halfs worth of work during our decision making module. These include a shocking realisation of how biased most decisions we make are, the many errors in judgement that again we may unknowingly make due to lack od due dilegence, the ridiculously complex methods to ensure our decisions are fully informed, my new found love for decision trees, and last but not least the difficulty in assigning value to judgements for decision tools!

But right now I shall start as is appropriate at the very beginning. Bias.

Our first day of lectures in this module was a revealing day. Through various example and simple quizzes we saw just how easy it was for us all to make make decisions, or guesses, based on complete bias. So many forms of bias exist and I think I'm guilty of most of them. While bias should be avoided when possible, I have to say I'm not over fussed about some of the biasses I usually have and it's unlikely I can rid bias out my life that easily. One major bias I must work to avoid however seems to be that of the confirmation trap. This is something I have unfortunately succumb to often and it has a deep impact on my ability to produce good pieces of work. The confirmation trap for those unaware of it is a bias that involves the search to validify and confirm a decision of choice we make and avoid any evidence that may suggest its falicy. For assignments this has a profound impact. A well thought analysis must examine all views, opnions and theories on a subject matter. If this bias exists however a very skwed view is presented and the analysis becomes weaks. I fear I am frequently guilty of this and must rid myself of this habbit. Its gonna be tough to do, but then again nothing worth doing is easy!

March 2011

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