We learned some very useful things from being involved in NASA’s Effective Decision-Making training program for the International Space Station Flight Controllers:
- One of the biggest differences between experts and novices is that experts are fully aware that what they DON’T know about a problem is what will interfere with their ability to make a good decision–so they do as much reading and information searching as they can before brainstorming options.
- Really good decisions occur in iterations. An expert will try part of a solution, re-approach the problem, try another part of a solution, modify some things, re-approach the problem, and then implement a final solution–and then review the problem and evaluate the solution for future use in similar problems.
- One of the first things good decision makers do is determine what the time constraints are and set clocks (one clock for the drop dead decision due date, and other clocks to remind them when to check on the issues they know might change between now and that drop dead date).
- During complex problem solving, the best decisions are made by teams whose team members communicate their intentions before taking actions (this gives the team a chance to help correct bad assumptions or declare new information for all members to hear and use in solving the problem).
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