Decision faults: failure to proactively plan your decisions

In my October 10, 2008 post, I introduced my belief that all faults are decision faults.  Over the years, I’ve seen quite a variety of bad decision practices that lead to failure.  Here are some decision faults that I lump under the general category of failure to proactively plan your decisions:

  • Failure to decide in a timely manner leads to “only one option”
  • Wrong decision owners, stakeholders and contributors doom a decision to failure
  • Inappropriate level of rigor/effort applied to a decision
  • Stakeholders withhold important criteria until a preferred alternative is proposed – trump the analysis
  • Implicit decision not recognized – opportunity for competitive advantage missed or inconsistent solution supported

Each of these is a form of ineffective Situation Appraisal – failure to proactively identify the decisions (fundamental questions/issues that demand an answer/solution) that make up your current situation, failure to frame/isolate the highest priority choices and failure to plan the decision analysis effort (How) and apply appropriate resources (How much) and personnel/roles (Who) to specific decisions.

I think the key to effective Situation Appraisal is to use a proven decision pattern to proactively create a Decision Breakdown Structure (DBS) of the situation.  This DBS can be used to identify open, high-priority decisions and to build a realistic data-gathering and decision analysis plan for the most critical choices.

These decision faults often share a common “presenting symptom” – if you are frequently blind-sided by a decision that seems to pop up from nowhere, you have likely failed at Situation Appraisal.  No decision should ever be a surprise – they fit into a predictable “big-picture” pattern.  But you have to look ahead!

The decision patterns available within the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF) can help you rapidly build the DBS framework for your situation. Please contact the Decision Driven® Solutions team at or to start your free trial of DDSF.

About decisiondriven

Innovator in Decision Management, Systems Thinking and System Engineering methods and tools
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