Structured Decision Making Course

As part of the EDG/CEED Leadership Program, CEED was kind enough to give each represented node $3000 to host an event that would help us improve our leadership skills. This is a broader brief than it sounds as the concept of ‘leadership’ as defined on the course includes everything from self leadership, to networking, to influencing others (see blogs from the leadership cohort who explore this more). Therefore, after much deliberation we decided to run a workshop on Structured Decision Making. Now this usually costs you tens of thousands of dollars but the University of Melbourne is lucky to have three resident experts in structured decision making; Libby Rumpff, Kelly de Bie and Prue Addison and they were willing to teach us. I should say that $3000 did not nearly cover their wages for the time they put in to preparing and running the two day workshop but they saw this as an opportunity to refine their skills (I hear that they may consider offering similar Structured Decision Making Courses in the future). Around 30 students, post docs and government and NGO employees attended the course. Most of these people attended in person at the University of Melbourne but we also streamed the lecture components of the workshop live to a number of interstate and overseas participants.

The workshop was designed to progress in the same way that you would approach a structured decision making problem. Structured Decision Making is made up of 6 steps (although some steps may be done multiple times depending on the concept: 1) creating a problem statement, 2) delineating objectives, 3) cataloguing alternatives, 4) determining the consequences of the alternatives, 5) comparing the different alternatives and, 6) deciding on an action. The workshop took us through each of these steps and we simultaneously learned about the steps and implemented them using a toy decision problem (deciding on a correct course of action in Victorian Mountain Ash forests).

Throughout the workshop our facilitators gave us examples of how they have used structured decision making for everything from choosing a house to protecting the Great Barrier Reef. By the end of the workshop I felt like I had the knowledge and skills to implement a Structured Decision Making process, though it might be easier to implement Structured Decision Making in a group context after some facilitation training.

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