Observation - Decision - Action : transparent decision making

One of those so obvious you never noticed concepts that change your way of looking at decision making forever. Simply : You have to split the Observation, Decision and Action parts. Now you can train and monitor properly.


How simple is splitting
  • Observation
  • Decision
  • Action
Yet how many times do they get bundled together? If they're mixed up you can't audit what's going on properly.

For example suppose you go to the doctor with a sore throat. What's the appropriate observations to make? Is there a scale for 'redness' and 'swelling' and is 'history' something that should be checked out? Now suppose 'because there's a lot of it about' the doctor jumps to the conclusion that you've got a streptococcus infection. That could be a poor decision making process not supported by evidence (you may have been shouting too much at the children). Even if the diagnosis is spot-on that still leaves a possible failure in prescribing the right treatment and communicating it accurately to you.


ODA applies to all decision making - especially when under pressure. Get the facts, apply an appropriate decision making process - now take the appropriate action and follow it through.

Another term for the same thing is Transparent Decision Making. Splitting ODA means you can train and test on each part separately. For example a production line might have inspection stations. Do these test the right things and are the instruments accurate and do results get reported in good time. That's pure observation which can be checked with test pieces. If people are involved the training the inspectors to measure properly is not related to D or A. How is this data analysed and presented and converted into 'do this' or 'do that' etc? Possibly this decision protocol gets adapted with experience - if it does it shouldn't involve the 'O' or the 'A'. Do the indicated actions get executed properly? When alarm bells ring is anyone listening? When the system fails each of O-D-A can be examined separately to identify the root causes and in particular prevent blame-shifting.

ODA is so very simple, and fundamental but organisations and individuals strongly resist it. The reason is not to hard to find : Transparency means less opportunity to wriggle out of responsibility.
  1. Don't leave home without it. Watch in horror as O is fudged in order to get a D, A bears no relation to D and D is all hunches anyway.
  2. There's more on my MOPOC web site - look for tutorials.
  1. If you're feeling bold then have a go at introducing ODA where you work . . .
    . . . but beware:- Even though you set up different sections on a screen or form marked with six-foot high flourescent letters there will still be those who insist on mixing them up.

Contact Peter@Vulpeculox•net