The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(141) [Anticipated]

The Art of Decision Making
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Staff Responsibility: Ann M. Hartell
Fiscal Year: 2022

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Decisions are guided by processes and influenced by organizational culture, biases, reason, emotion, experience and memories, benefits and costs, and context. Decisions are also affected the type of
decision (emergent activity or established practice), degree of collaboration required, role clarity, the urgency, completeness and quality of data, and availability of resources.
State DOTs make many decisions in many different contexts. As our work becomes more multimodal and multidisciplinary, the complexity of decision making is increasing. As we seek to provide equity,
we need to review our decision-making practices for systemic bias. New practices are often evaluated using decision models designed for operational activities. We are also at the precipice of using more
automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence and need to understand the types of decisions that are best suited for these practices.
The goal of this project is to identify factors and frameworks that support different types of decisions, common pitfalls in decision-making, and strategies for successful and sustainable decisions. It is anticipated that this may include systems thinking, common cognitive biases, decision roles, and practices such as recognition-primed decision making, the Cynefin model, and more.
The objective of this project is to identify and review decision-making models for their potential to improve the fit with the type of decision being made and the desired outcomes. This includes
supporting decision quality, reducing rework, supporting transparency and equity, promoting sustainable outcomes, and providing timely support for changes in business strategies. Tasks are
anticipated to include:
1. Collecting and reviewing the decision-making models and frameworks and summarizing common elements and strengthens and intended uses of the models.
2. Surveying state DOTs for models and frameworks currently in use and the context and experience of using them.
3. Analyzing the results and developing recommendations for
   a. The types and complexity of decisions made
   b. Decision models used and the context of their use
   c. Role models used
   d. Equity and potential biases
   e. Comparison to state of the practice decision models and frameworks
4. Prepare a guidebook of these decision models and frameworks and the relative strengthens and weaknesses for common uses in state departments of transportation.
State DOTs are seeking to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Reviewing current decision making practices and evaluating the potential for systemic bias is a critical step for improvement. In
addition, the complexity of decision making has increased but decision models to fit the more multidisciplinary and emergent decisions are still in development. This project will provide useful information for assessing current practices and provide resources to quickly determine a decision model for the types of decisions being make.

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