To be most effective, war games should include certain specific real world conditions. These include a strongly competitive battlespace, so that players must make decisions reacting to each other’s actions. Another is unpredictability, illustrated by changing technologies and shifts in battlespace target demand.
Long and short term perspective are required, to show how decisions made now will affect field level success later on. One important result that makes wargames supremely worthwhile: troops learn the importance of being absolutely clear in their communications.
When the dust has settled, Marines look back on these simulations as one of the most challenging and stimulating exercises of their careers.
In general, the decision making process helps troops solve problems by examining alternative choices and deciding on the best route to take. Using a step-by-step approach is an efficient way to make informed decisions that have a positive impact on mission results.
1. Identify the decision
The first step in making the right decision is recognizing the problem or opportunity and deciding to address it. Determine why this decision will make a difference to your organization.
Must identify exactly what decision is being made. If it's a choice between two things, such as choosing between two jobs that are being offered, it's fairly simple to name the decision. But if it's a question of whether to start an operation and what exactly the team should do, or how to run expansion, that's trickier.
Write down what you think the decision is that you're making, then iterate your description of the decision until it expresses exactly what you're trying to decide.
If you misidentify the problem to solve, you’ll knock the decision train off the track before it even leaves the station.
2. Build the proper infrastructure
It isn’t safe to delegate before you have built the proper infrastructure to assign the right people with potential to return time investment to train them.
Must document processes so you have to literally write down how you want things done. Yes, this is work and no one is going to celebrate your efforts. However, documentation is the best means for communicating how you want things done when you can’t be there.
Developing robust metrics so you get regular reports that quantify the performance of your team with solid operating metrics that tell you how things are going in almost real time.
3. Put data access processes in place
Once you’ve identified what you want to monitor, make sure your processes can deliver your data. For example, if you don’t currently update your estimates with change orders, you can add that to your workflow to get a truer picture of your estimate-to-actual variance.
The data won’t do much good if your decision makers can’t get to it. Look for technology that allows commanders in the field to access the information they need from their mobile devices. Use customized dashboards and easy to understand graphs and other visuals to make the data easily consumable and understandable.
4. Gather information
Now it’s time to gather information so that you can make a decision based on facts and data. This requires making a value judgment, determining what information is relevant to the decision at hand, along with how you can get it. Ask yourself what you need to know in order to make the right decision, then actively seek out anyone who needs to be involved.
So you know you have a decision to make; now you need to learn more about the decision so you want to identify what kinds of information you need, how you will get that information and how you will use the information so you learn more about the situation, and zero in on prospective alternatives.
5. Identify alternatives
Once you have a clear understanding of the issue, it’s time to identify the solutions at your disposal. It’s likely that you have many different options when it comes to making your decision, so it is important to come up with a range of options to determine which course of action is the best way to achieve your objective.
You will need to weigh the evidence to “evaluate for feasibility, acceptability and desirability” to know which alternative is best, You need to be able to weigh pros and cons to select the option that has the highest chances of success. It may be helpful to seek out a trusted second opinion to gain a new perspective on the issue at hand.
6.. Choose among alternatives
When it’s time to make your decision, be sure that you understand the risks involved with your chosen route. You may also choose a combination of alternatives now that you fully grasp all relevant information and potential risks.
If you noticed a pattern that one alternative dominates all the rest, that clearly becomes your decision. But if you cannot decide, you’ll need to make tradeoffs using a process called even swaps to increase the value of an alternative in terms of one objective while decreasing its value by an equivalent amount in terms of another objective.
7. Design solutions
Now that you have collected and assessed the data, you can start to design solutions. This can take on many different forms, such as creating battlespace area layouts, or new processes to name a few.
You need to create a plan for implementation. This involves identifying what resources are required and gaining support from stakeholders since getting them onboard with your decision is a key component of executing your plan effectively. Be prepared to address any questions or concerns that may arise.
8. Validate the preferred design option
Before you pull the trigger on the decision, you want to know if it’s going to actually solve the problem. To help validate the preferred option, you can run simulations or even model the system so you will be able to see your system and test different worse-case scenarios.
Considering the consequences is key because it will help you determine how your final decision will impact yourself, and/or others involved. In this step, you will be asking yourself what is likely to be the results of your decision. How will it affect you now? And how will it affect your future?
9. Take Action
Here comes the fun/scary part. You have identified your problem or your goal. You've gathered all of the possible information, gotten information from the experts, and weighed the consequences. Now it's time to make the choice. You've gotten rid of all the alternatives that are not practical or simply do not fit.
Time can be a tough friend. Sometimes it is good, and sometimes it is not. When making major decisions and taking action, understanding the timing process is crucial because sometimes it is best to delay a decision, and other times delaying a response can cause more problems. There are also times when making a quick decision is advantageous because it allows you more time to make necessary changes should problems arise
Once you’ve made your decision, act on it! Execute your plan to set the team loose on their tasks.
10. Review your decision
An often-overlooked but important step in the decision making process is evaluating your decision for effectiveness. Ask yourself what you did well and what can be improved next time.
Even the most experienced commanders can learn from their mistakes … be ready to adapt your plan as necessary, or to switch to another potential solution. If you find your decision didn’t work out the way you planned, you may want to revisit some of the previous steps to identify a better choice.