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How we make decisions or What is DSS?


“Those who can think but cannot make decisions, do not live but just exist.” (V. Sinyavskiy)

Every day every one of us makes lots of decisions, simple and hard, important and urgent, tactical and strategical, concern only oneself or also other people. Obviously, that the success of an expert or a leader is defined by the quality of decisions he/she makes whether he/she works alone or in a team. The more developed this quality is, the better and well-timed the achieved result will be. So when we are talking about a certain company, more successful will be that one in which employees can make decisions.

We start thinking about the idea of transferring decision-making at the level of technology after we analyzed the quality of 100 decisions made by the different company employees. We noted that only about 30% of these decisions led to the targeted result; that there are certain patterns of decision-making and the same person in most cases makes the same mistakes, the fact that in case of successful decisions almost the same algorithm was used.

If there is an algorithm, so it can be derived, characterized and implemented. Actually, this is what we did. I want to stress that the following algorithm is well suited for making difficult decisions.

Thus, the main stages of the decision support system (or DSS) are:

  • Gathering the facts – specific quantitative and qualitative indicators, the relevant, objective and verifiable data from reliable sources, including the unexpected and unusual;
  • Interpretation of facts – giving meanings and explaining the data collected, assessment of a situation, search for possible causes of the problem;
  • Solutions – description of the possible future, a comparison of the current state with the future, the development of transition methods from the present point to the future (searching for solutions), an assessment of their adequacy and feasibility, a research of alternatives, risks measurement, the choice of optimal solutions;
  • Actions – develop a strategy, the “sale” of solutions and ways to achieve them to customers and experts, if they are accepted then their implementation, monitoring of results at the points of reference, performance assessment and quality control of decisions made (retrospective).

Basic conditions under which the system works:

  • Acceptance of personal responsibility for the problem and its solution. “It is not my problem” attitude never works. In this case it is better not to accept the challenge at all;
  • Cooperation in problem solving with the experts and those who are interested in your work. Get the feedback, accept it and act in accordance with it;
  • Retrospective and evaluation of the results of each stage of decision-making and improvement of one’s own actions. Retrospective is very important and useful. I think, the details on how we do this will be in the next post;
  • Being objective on each decision-making stage is of great importance.

Actually, this is it. After reading you can get a feeling that nothing new had been proposed, you already know information given. And this is the most counterintuitive thing – we know it but do not do. Or do but skip the stage of gathering the facts or predicate the solution according to the known facts that exist at the moment, even if they are incomplete. But the problem is usually urgent and there is not enough time to gather the facts. We usually start doing something and hope that it can lead them to a perfect solution. Or just do not divide problems and opportunities. In fact, while solving the problem, there are often opportunities to be implemented immediately. The issue is about consistency, awareness and strict abidance by the algorithm.

That is why decision support system is integrated into IT world in a consistent manner. And we apply it practically in our work every day because it really functions.

To summarize: the trial and error method is good only for solving small but not serious problems.

And if serious, even small problems should not be solved this way.

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