BookPDF Available

Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions

Authors:
  • ShadowBox LLC & MacroCognition LLC

Abstract

Anyone who watches the television news has seen images of firefighters rescuing people from burning buildings and paramedics treating bombing victims. How do these individuals make the split-second decisions that save lives? Most studies of decision making, based on artificial tasks assigned in laboratory settings, view people as biased and unskilled. Gary Klein is one of the developers of the naturalistic decision-making approach, which views people as inherently skilled and experienced. Since 1985, Klein has conducted fieldwork to find out how people tackle challenges in difficult, nonroutine situations. Sources of Power is based on observations of humans acting under such real-life constraints as time pressure, high stakes, personal responsibility, and shifting conditions. In addition to providing information that can be used by professionals in management, psychology, engineering, and other fields, the book presents an overview of the research approach of naturalistic decision making and expands our knowledge of the strengths people bring to difficult tasks.
WINTER 2001
21
Leadership and Management in Engineering
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SOURCES OF POWER:HOW PEOPLE MAKE
DECISIONS
By Gary A. Klein; Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press,
1999; 352 pages; $21.95.
s a practitioner of project management, I am con-
stantly trying to learn how to be more effective.
The odds are against me. Some studies claim that
more than half of all projects are late and that almost every
project goes over budget. This disturbs me, since we advo-
cate a “lessons learned” exercise for every project—a post-
project review that attempts to determine what went wrong,
why it went wrong, and what could have been done differ-
ently that would have prevented the wrong from occurring.
My professional angst led me to a psychologist, Gary A.
Klein, the author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
(MIT Press, 1999). Klein has studied decision making in a
variety of professions, from fire fighting to nursing. He tries
to understand “how people handle all of the typical confu-
sions and pressures of their environment, such as missing
information, time constraints, vague goals, and changing
conditions,” he says. If that description sounds like your
project, read on.
According to Klein, while decision making seems to
favor the experienced person (an obvious conclusion), the
experience must often be put into context to be made mean-
ingful (a not-so-obvious conclusion). In the book, he cites a
group of midwestern firefighters trying to battle an oil tank
fire. They had experience fighting fires—mostly barn and
garage fires—but the different context of the fire (an oil tank)
meant their experience was not meaningful and they ended
up calling in consultants to extinguish the fire. “Years of
experience are not beneficial if we cannot make meaning of
and apply the experience,” says Klein. “That is why building
a meaningful experience base is important.”
For the profession of project management, that meaning-
ful experience base, if it exists at all, takes the form of lessons
learned. This is our attempt to extract and capture knowl-
edge for future use. My attempts to relate Klein’s work to
project management have led me to conclude that we need
to continue doing lessons-learned exercises, but we should be
doing them earlier and more frequently.
For most projects, the lessons-learned task is literally an
afterthought, done at the end of a project (if the project hasn’t
been canceled because of delays or overruns). By this time,
much of what happened has been lost. Summarizing lessons
learned earlier and at more frequent intervals throughout the
project increases the likelihood of recording highly accurate
information. The key here, according to Klein, is “to reduce
the time between the occurrence and the outcome of an
event.”
The reason for carrying out the exercise more often is to
increase the amount of data you collect. That doesn’t mean
that the more data the better (we’re after knowledge here,
not data); rather it means increasing the chances that you’ll
capture “a prior case with a known outcome and a semi-
known set of causes,” says Klein. More frequent recording of
lessons learned may increase the probability of linking cause
to effect, although that is never guaranteed. The purpose of
all this is to build experience that can be applied to future
projects to get better results.
But a better experience base is worthless if it is not
applied. Getting it applied involves changing top manage-
ment, and there have been thousands of articles written
about that topic. A better way for our profession to apply les-
sons learned to the legions of people doing the daily work of
project management is to provide training that is based more
on case studies.
Case-based training focuses on the practice of project
management. It allows students to use their experience (or
lack thereof) to interpret what happened in a certain case:
why the project was late, how the scope of the project
increased, and so forth. While training is still no substitute
for experience, case-based training serves to reduce the real-
world delay between event and feedback and can sometimes
link cause and effect more directly. Klein believes that inex-
perience is a greater factor in bad decisions than faulty rea-
soning, and case-based training—used in the professions of
medicine and law—provides a way to simulate experience in
a shorter period of time.
An old joke defines insanity as “doing the same thing and
expecting different results.” It appears that our traditional
lessons-learned exercise and teaching methods haven’t done
much to improve our track record. I suggest we consider
changing them, because according to the statistics we still
have a lot to learn.
—JOHN SULLIVAN
PMP
Dayton, Ohio
A
BOOKS
Leadership Manage. Eng. 2001.1:21-21.
Downloaded from ascelibrary.org by 54.152.109.166 on 11/05/15. For personal use only.
... While there is still a knowledge component involved, these approaches also showed that social factors such as the building of trust (Fischhoff, 1995;Renn & Levine, 1991) is at least as important to successful risk management as is communicating knowledge in an accessible way (Gigerenzer, 2007). Furthermore, cognitive psychologists and behavioral economists have argued that people refer to 'short cuts' , which relieve them from the burden of rationally exploring evidence in an increasingly complex life (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974) and even experts develop an intuitive sense for risk through a cumulation of experiences (Klein, 1998) often referred to as 'gut feelings' . Additionally, the psychometric paradigm showed that people's risk perception is dominated by mainly two factors, the familiarity of a risk or the unknown risk factor and the expected awfulness of a risk or the dread factor with affect becoming increasingly acknowledged in their role of influencing responses to risk (Slovic, 2010). ...
... There is a large body of research on intuitive engagement with risk. As Gary Klein has famously shown by many examples, people develop tacit knowledge on the basis of experience accumulated over time to manage risky situations (Klein, 1998). examples of professionals show how these learn to recognize intuitively typical situational patterns that inform their decision making. ...
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Risk studies have shown that many people rather than following rational means of managing risk refer to non-rational (hope, faith) and in-between rationales (trust, intuition), which are not irrational but reasonable and based on subjective experiences, which are difficult to overcome by the communication of mere expert knowledge. We suggest that the problem of analyzing subjective risk management can be itemized as a result of the tension between subjective and objectified forms of certitudes. To clarify this distinction, the article turns to the New Phenomenology of Hermann Schmitz for outlining the different epistemological foundations of rational, non-rational and in-between rationales. We then develop a model of three different forms of knowledge that are involved in subjective risk management and elaborate the basic neo-phenomenological distinction of subjective and objective facts by differentiating the latter ones into rational and non-rational ones. We conclude with considering consequences of these epistemological challenges for risk communication.
... "Проблеми, решења, могућност избора и сами доносиоци одлуке се могу повезати или не, у складу са временом у ком се дешавају... скоро свако решење може бити повезано са сваким проблемом, под условом да се дешавају у истом времену." (Decrop, 2006, 4) Шести приступ теорији процеса доношења одлуке, натуралистички процес доношења одлуке, сматра се да је шести приступ утемељен на истраживању које је спровео Клајн (Klein, 1998) (погледати Lipshitz et al., 2006). Ова парадигма најчешће је употребљавана при анализи доносиоца одлука који послују у опасном окружењу (Ash and Smallman, 2008a;Ash and Smallman, 2008b). ...
... L.A. Burk i M.K. Miller, z kolei, zaproponowali zarządzającym szereg wskazówek dotyczących wykorzystania intuicji w praktyce, a zwłaszcza sytuacji, w których powinno się ją stosować, a mianowicie: w warunkach niepewności, w sytuacji kiedy racjonalna analiza wydaje się być niewystarczająca i wymaga zbalansowania informacjami pochodzącymi z innych źródeł, Uważa, że zarówno intuicja, jak i doświadczenie mogą być zawodne i prowadzić do błędów w ocenie sytuacji decyzyjnej. Jednocześnie podkreśla, że intuicja i doświadczenie wzbogacają wiedzę jawną i ukrytą oraz posiadane przez daną jednostkę umiejętności, co bezpośrednio wpływa na jakość przeprowadzanych analiz[16]. Ponadto warto zauważyć, że informacje pochodzące ze źródeł nieanalitycznych okazywały się być istotniejsze od tych będących wynikiem poznania racjonalnego[19, ss. ...
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Opiniodawca: prof. dr hab. Bogdan Nogalski W literaturze przedmiotu obserwować można rosnące zainteresowanie wykorzystaniem intuicji w procesie podejmowania decyzji, która staje się coraz częściej przedmiotem badań empirycznych. Jednakże celem większości z nich jest identyfikacja osób, które wykorzystują intuicję w procesie decyzyjnym lub badania przeprowadzone z psychologicznego punktu widzenia. W ostatnich latach zauważyć jednak można coraz bardziej złożone metodycznie wysiłki autorów mające na celu rozwiązanie problemu zastosowania intuicji w praktyce zarządzania. Celem referatu jest dokonanie systematyzacji współczesnych badań empirycznych z zakresu intuicji realizowanych w dziedzinie zarządzania oraz podjęcie próby wyznaczenia potencjalnych przyszłych ich kierunków.
... Yet, a vast preponderance of evidence from the fields of neurological science and psychology yield a very different picture. What appears rather to be the case is that we are creatures built almost wholly on the pre-aware, 13 that our brains function by automatically and very rapidly taking in and then processing stimuli (both external and internal), affixing what might perhaps be called "emotional tinges" to these data, and determining best courses of action through intuitive judgments which are thereby "tagged" and effected in subsequent actions: all of this, it must be stressed, happens entirely before rational analysis or reasoned decision-making is even possible (Damasio 1994(Damasio , 1999(Damasio , 2012Dijksterhuis 2004;Gazzaniga 2011;Greene 2013;Haidt 2001Haidt , 2012Kahneman 2003Kahneman , 2011Klein 1993Klein , 1998Sadler-Smith and Shefy 2004;Tversky and Kahneman 1974). The brain, moreover, is incredibly skilled at these pre-thought procedures, able to handle 11.2 million units of data at once, whereas in aware thought (/rational cognition) we can typically accommodate a mere seven items simultaneously (Dijksterhuis 2004). ...
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