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The Future of Decision Making

by David

The book "The Future of Decision Making" offers healthy insights on how to help others to improve their decision making.

People Make Poor Choices

"Many organizational employees make well-intentioned but poor choices. This is true for everyone from top executives to line workers." Data or logic can be half-baked, and lead us to make decisions where we ignore our experience and better judgment. Most people make decisions based on logic, data and conventional wisdom. The best decisions are generally based on accumulated experience.

Organizations often give individuals and teams rigid rules regarding decision making. These can be well-intentioned, but drive poor decision making. Business is dynamic. Generalizations don't always work well.

As the world gets more complex and demanding, fast-paced decision-making becomes the difference between success or obsolescence" --Richard Sheridan, CEO, Menlo Innovations Business Leadership Skill - The Future of Decision Making

Case-Based Reasoning

The authors challenge using logic and rationality as the basis for making decisions. Case-based reasoning draws upon accumulated experiences - both in terms of successes and failures. Stories are "the next best thing" to direct experience. Stories can be captured through interviews. There is software that can facilitate the gathering, capture and sharing of stories in a decision making context that can improve decision making. The software can index experiences and synthesize these into patterns.

A new software design concept to facilitate our decision-making may be the next 'big thing'. --Richard Sheridan, CEO, Menlo Innovations "We now possess the capability to make great business decisions in even the most difficult or ambiguous of situations with the use of today's advanced software capability. The authors, who are experts in cognitive science, software, and practical decision-making, explain the new science of decision-making and offer examples and advice that will enable readers put it to use in their organizations.

Collecting Stories

Find the seasoned experts that have been through it all, and have them help you populate a software solution with stories. What is the most important wisdom that will be needed in the future? Who are the most qualified in the various areas where knowledge is needed? Ask the experts to share the best and worst decisions they ever made. What was the logic behind the decision? What opportunities looked great on paper, but bombed? Where were the negative results? What did they learn? Get enough detail so that there is a beginning and end and enough context in the middle to help others.


The ideal software includes experiences, examples, best practices and lessons learned provided by experts. The software should help decision makers and others to find the right information quickly within the context of today's challenges and needs. Additionally, it should filter out excess data. Furthermore, it should provide graphical interfaces in way that align with how the mind works.

The software should create associations to other cases at both at a specific and an abstraction level. How does an association at an abstraction level help? Here's an example. Let's say that manager in a software development company wants to develop educational software for children. Let's also assume that this the first time the firm has targeted the development of this specific type of software. While there may be no education software development projects in the system, there could be stories of other development projects that she can learn from. For instance, she may gather additional insights on how to best gather user requirements, how to most successfully launch the product, etc.

Decision Making Training

The objective of the training is help people learn to make better decisions. We learn best not just through lectures but by practicing. Decision-making simulations can really help to make the learning more of a reality. Simulations should be realistic, complicated, goal based, engaging, fun and include learning from failure.

As you develop the training simulation, ask your employees what type of decisions they struggle with the most. Ask them to provide stories of when they made bad decisions, the context associated with those decisions, and the outcome of the decision. This exercise will help you to know how to best provide training to help the employees in making better decisions moving forward.

Expect objections as you conduct the training. Some will want specific directions so they get the exact answers you want them to. Your focus is on the decision making process and helping your employees to learn for themselves. Providing practices, helping them to reflect and improve, and offering feedback on the process will help.

It is important to remember that habits don't automatically change perceptions and habits, but it can be a good start.

Data or logic can be half-baked, and lead us to make decisions where we ignore our experience and better judgment.

About the Authors

Elliot Soloway is a professor of engineering, information and education at the University of Michigan. Roger C. Schank is a professor emeritus at Northwestern University. Dimitris Lyras founded Ulysses-Systems, a software consultancy.

Comments for The Future of Decision Making

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Decision making
by: Anonymous

Good decisions pay rich dividends. Bad decisions are going to continue rest of the life. This is the logic behind the decision making.

Really awesome post!!!!!!
by: Pious

I think this post on the future of decision making is very well executed by you and I am sure that it will be very helpful for the people like me to get a better motivation. Keep sharing such posts!

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