Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Surveillance mode for decision makers

Decision makers often operate in a surveillance mode rather than a problem solving mode
--James G. March

I was recently rereading James G. March's paper entitled "How decisions happen in organizations" (1991)

Some time ago, I was put onto this by a posting at Eight2Late.

The thing that got my attention this time is March's description of the operating mode that decision makers fall into, either wittingly or witlessly:

"They do not recognize a problem until they have a solution". This is certainly bottom up, and closely aligned with the so-called wicked requirement (the solution defines the requirement)

"They scan their environments for surprises and solutions". Why wouldn't they scan for the information elements and then make decisions?

The answer may be in this bit of wisdom about enterprise information:

"Rarely innocent". That's one I'd not heard before, but there you are. I guess by corollary that makes information "guilty" of bias and misrepresentation.  Good grief!