An Overview of Structured Decision Making


Target Audience:

Managers or those in a quasi-management role who have decision making authority either solely or as part of a larger decision making body. In the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, managers would include those in roles such as project leader, assistant regional director, regional director, division chief, and assistant director.

Summary and Objectives:

This 2-day course targets the skills and concepts most useful for managers and was developed by the National Conservation Training Center in response to feedback from the weeklong Introduction to Structured Decision Making (ALC3171) course. The technical and quantitative aspects of the material are not included in this overview course so as to concentrate on the most applicable processes that a typical manager needs to know and be able to do. The course takes participants through the PrOACT process, a helpful roadmap for decomposing problems and applying systematic thinking to make decisions. Other concepts covered include evaluating trade-offs, uncertainty, and risk and managing small-to-large decision problems.

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate the relevance and benefits of using a formal, transparent decision making process instead of a descriptive one.
  • Direct staff to use the process when appropriate; * Understand the decision maker's role in the process.
  • Understand that the process takes an investment of time and possibly resources (e.g., non-staff technical experts may need to be brought in).
  • Help define the problem.
  • Formulate objectives and weight them appropriately.
  • Critically evaluate alternatives, consequences, and trade-offs presented to them.
  • Successfully step through a multiobjective natural resource problem using the PrOACT process.
  • Set up a successful expert elicitation exercise for their decision problem when data is scarce.

Student Requirements:

Participants are required to read Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions before the start of the class; this will be mailed to registered participants. Contact us if your region is interested in hosting this course.

Competency Addressed: 

Decision Making - Basic, Decision Support - Basic, Decisiveness - Basic, Strategic Thinking - Basic

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