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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2022

Kailash Awati and Natalia Nikolova

Managers are increasingly presented with complex, ambiguous decision problems that affect multiple stakeholder groups. Such problems cannot be tackled solely by classical…

Abstract

Purpose

Managers are increasingly presented with complex, ambiguous decision problems that affect multiple stakeholder groups. Such problems cannot be tackled solely by classical approaches that prescribe rational methods to weigh evidence and select an optimal course of action. Yet most courses on decision making still focus on these methods. This paper draws attention to the complementary nature of rational decision making and sensemaking techniques in management decision making, and describes a practical pedagogy that demonstrates how the two can be integrated into management curricula.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on an in-depth review of relevant research, the authors propose a conceptual model that highlights the complementary nature of rational and sensemaking methods for making decisions relating to complex and ambiguous problems. They then describe a course on decision making as an illustration of how the model can inform decision making pedagogy.

Findings

Decision makers need to think of their decision problems in terms of two distinct types of uncertainty: those for which uncertainty can be quantified and those for which it cannot. When faced with the latter, decisions are best made by working with relevant stakeholders to collectively frame the problem using practical sensemaking tools prior to applying rational decision making techniques to address it. Decision making under ambiguity is an iterative, social process requiring a combination of rational decision making methods and sensemaking techniques.

Practical implications

The paper seeks to increase awareness about the complementary nature of sensemaking and rational decision making. It emphasizes the need to integrate the two in management curricula and provides details on how this can be done via an example of a course implemented at an Australian Business School. The techniques described will also be of interest to practitioners.

Originality/value

The paper describes a practical pedagogy that blends rational decision making and collective sensemaking techniques in a way that fosters managers’ decision making skills in contexts characterized by ambiguity.

Details

Management Decision, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 June 2012

Paul Culmsee and Kailash Awati

The early stages of projects are often characterised by ambiguity arising from differences in stakeholder views regarding project rationale and objectives. The purpose of…

Abstract

Purpose

The early stages of projects are often characterised by ambiguity arising from differences in stakeholder views regarding project rationale and objectives. The purpose of this paper is to present a viewpoint on how to build a shared understanding of project goals and thus reach a shared commitment to achieving them. One of the ways to achieve shared understanding is through open dialogue, free from political and other constraints. The authors call an environment that fosters such dialogue a holding environment. The main aim is to illustrate, via a case study: how an alliance‐based approach to projects can foster a holding environment; and how argument visualisation tools such as IBIS (Issue‐Based Information System) can be used to clarify different points of view and options within such an environment.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a discussion of theoretical background and literature review, an alliancing case study is used to illustrate the development of a holding environment and demonstrate the utility of IBIS in the creation of such an environment.

Findings

It is seen that an alliance‐based approach to projects can provide the foundation for a holding environment. IBIS is seen to facilitate the building of shared understanding by making arguments explicit and capturing decision rationale.

Practical implications

The paper outlines a practical framework for improving the quality of dialogue and achieving stakeholder commitment on projects.

Originality/value

Achieving shared understanding and commitment to action is difficult, particularly in the early stages of projects. The paper outlines the conditions and techniques needed to facilitate this via a non‐trivial case study.

Article
Publication date: 21 June 2011

Kailash Awati

The purpose of this practice note is to describe the use of the issue‐based information system (IBIS) notation to map dialogues that occur in project meetings.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this practice note is to describe the use of the issue‐based information system (IBIS) notation to map dialogues that occur in project meetings.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study is used to illustrate how the technique works. A discussion highlighting the key features, benefits and limitations of the method is also presented along with a comparison of IBIS to other similar notations.

Findings

IBIS is seen to help groups focus on the issues at hand, bypassing or avoiding personal agendas, personality clashes and politics.

Practical implications

The technique can help improve the quality of communication in projects meetings. The case study highlights how the notation can assist project teams in developing a consensus on contentious issues in a structured yet flexible way.

Originality/value

IBIS has not been widely used in project management. This note illustrates its value in helping diverse stakeholders get to a shared understanding of the issues being discussed and a shared commitment to achieving them.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 15 June 2012

Derek H.T. Walker

123

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

Content available
Article
Publication date: 21 June 2011

Derek H.T. Walker

353

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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