What happens if experts and decision makers disagree

Client: A large organisation with strong interests in training aircraft pilots

Problem: Over a period of several years a number of incidents had occurred where training aircraft and routine flights had experienced near misses or collisions. It was proposed that a collision warning system be developed to be fitted to all aircraft so as to minimise the number of such incidents. The first stage was to select the most promising technology to be used as a basis for a demonstration of such a system.

Approach: An OR consultant was engaged to apply the principles of multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) and to define a decision analysis framework. Decision workshops involving stakeholders and technology experts were conducted in order to establish the relative importance of the different facets of the problem. Clear evaluation guidelines were developed for the evaluation team. An evaluation scheme was constructed that evaluated technologies against basic principles and requirements for collision warning and avoidance. This allowed the contributing experts to agree on the key decision factors and their relative importance prior to considering the efficacy of candidate technologies. Initially, each and every expert stated that the answer was “obvious”: except that the answer was in each case the technology championed by the expert.

Benefits: Once the decision analysis framework had been applied to evaluate the technologies, a clear winner was identified.
This ensured stakeholder buy-in for the decision and prevented long-running arguments between experts.

Contact: David Wrigley