OUR APPROACH

WE ARE CATALYSTS

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When most consulting firms are hired, they begin the process by coming into your company’s office, interviewing some people, leaving, and coming back with a thick report that tells you what to do. On the surface, this sounds fine…but in order for this approach to generate real value, one fundamental premise must be true: the consultant must know your business better than you do.

At Decision Strategies, we think it’s far more likely that savvy, experienced professionals like yourselves who have spent a career in a specific industry know the business better than a group of outsiders who have only been investigating your situation for a few weeks. If you’re struggling with a complex problem, it is not because you lack expertise in your business, it is simply because you are not experts in deconstructing complex problems. We are.

In order to help you navigate these problems, our expertise is focused on helping clients gain clarity in difficult situations by steering them around the traps and pitfalls that characterize complexity.

Our approach involves the following:

 

  • We make sure that all stakeholders’ objectives are understood and that the tradeoffs between competing objectives are discussed and evaluated.
  • We facilitate the framing of the problem so that everyone understands the situation and the entire context, including the cause and effect of downside threats and the critical elements that create upside potential.
  • Our “divide and conquer” approach makes sure that all issues are categorized and dealt with appropriately.
  • We push your team to generate creative strategic alternatives, and then we reach into our evaluation toolbox to assess each of those alternatives – qualitatively and/or quantitatively – against your objectives.
  • We characterize uncertainties so you understand the range of possible outcomes associated with each strategic alternative.
  • From the insights gleaned in the process, we work with you to optimize the final strategy or create a hybrid that is better than any of the ones considered; this includes a solid risk mitigation plan and option thinking to capture upside value that might otherwise be missed.
  • Finally, we coach you through the implementation stage and any change management issues that may arise.

 

The end result is a homegrown strategy, one that fits your corporate culture, embodies your company’s strengths, and creates significant competitive advantages. Your team will rally around such a strategy because they created it.

We were just the catalyst.

FAQ - HELPING TO DE-MYSTIFY THE DECISION ANALYSIS APPROACH

What constitutes a good decision?

A good decision maximizes the probability of achieving an optimal result in light of the range of potential outcomes. It is arrived at through consideration of future uncertainty and risk exposure, it is framed as a true decision between alternative choices, and it directly addresses the full set of well-defined objectives of the decision makers.

Decision Analysis sounds as if you are attempting to audit my decision to validate it. Is that a fair perception?

This is a common misperception. The use of the word “analysis” refers to the process used to frame the problem correctly, guide the stakeholder team through a thought process, and evaluate the decision alternatives to arrive at the optimum end point. While “analysis” can entail the use of quantitative methods, the first priority in any decision work should be the qualitative fit to your objectives. Decision-making is not a calculation result, nor is it the result of any sort of audit.

What benefits does Decision Analysis bring to a corporation or a decision-maker that uses it?

 

  • It significantly improves the likelihood of making a good decision.
  • It complements the use of data analytics.
  • It reduces unnecessary risk in volatile markets.
  • It adds clarity in complex regulatory environments.
  • It opens up viable options that would not normally be considered.
  • It brings greater creativity into the mix because typical human biases are brought out and dealt with.
  • It helps the stakeholders to better understand how the complexities are likely to interact, resulting in better risk management and mitigation.
  • It allows for the early identification of business pinch-points and provides avenues to secure material competitive advantage.
  • It results in a unified way forward for all stakeholders involved (and thus a greater likelihood of success) because the company owns the solution, as well as the path that was taken to reach it.

Why is the science not more widely used?

Some executives may interpret the proposal of a structured approach to decision-making as an implication that they don’t make good decisions. This is a misconception: the technique supplements the knowledge and experience of the executives and stakeholders, while giving them the clarity they need to make an even better decision than they would have without the approach.

Won’t the process take away my control of the issue at hand?

In fact, the exact opposite occurs. The transparency of the process allows the decision maker (or team) to get the best, clearest, and most comprehensive picture, thus enabling them to take complete control of the decision, rather than losing control. The process is not about calculating the “correct” answer; rather, it is about improving clarity and confidence while providing insight as to threats, mitigation, and priorities as the decision is implemented.

Won’t the structured approach to decision making absorb excessive resources and slow down our decision-making process overall?

The opposite typically happens: by eliminating rework and analysis paralysis, a confident decision can be reached more quickly. Decision Analysis is extremely scalable. When correctly implemented, the process is easily customizable to any scenario. Clarity can be reached in a few hours with relatively little preparation on a small project; a major project may take a few days, following preparation. Only when a quantitative model is needed will the time required run into weeks, but that is only done when the type and magnitude of the decision warrants it (and the time frame allows it). Additionally, while the process may seem more time consuming from the perspective of the typical “gut feel” decision-making process, the time saved in terms of not having to remediate a poor decision is invaluable to any business.

Remediating poor decisions is reduced because factors pertinent to the ultimate solution are examined early in the process and unique threats or risks to success can be prioritized. It allows you to allocate people, time, and capital to the aspects that will create a material difference to the success of the project.

 

What are some of the benefits your clients have seen?

Some of the benefits that our clients have lauded include:

  • Decision Analysis brings relevancy and clear understanding to issues
  • Results give an excellent value proposition
  • Endorsement and reinforcement of long-term corporate objectives
  • Stake-holder alignment as they achieved organizational alignment and buy-in
  • An unbiased view of the challenges
  • The process of thinking through alternatives gives rise to out-of-the box, innovative ideas which would not normally be considered
  • Clarity and agreement when the situation involves controversial decisions involving multiple business units
  • Millions of dollars in savings by avoiding poor, un-thought-out decisions
  • The value the process brings is significantly more than gut-based decisions
  • Consistency and the ability to verbalize the situation in a clear non-complex manner
  • An independent and unbiased perspective
  • The identification of points of beneficial control and opportunities to create and maintain competitive advantage
  • A prioritized learning plan for risk and uncertainty management during implementation, which improves capital efficiency and probability of maximum value creation