Useful Decision Analysis Tools

Presenter: Kurt Stuke, Trainer, Consultant, Contoocook, NH, USA

Keywords: Decision Matrix, Decision Tree, Decision Analysis

Industry: Environmental Services, Manufacturing, Service

Level: Basic


The point of our practice as Lean and Quality practitioners is often reducible to a decision. There may be one over-arching choice or perhaps many incremental decisions, but making good decisions can make or break our efforts. While we are trained very well in the tools of Lean and Process Improvement, the exploration of a structured approach to decision analysis (DA) is not as common. The value of our outputs mandates at least a cursory understanding of DA, such that, the decision or decisions themselves are as meaningful as the data upon which the decisions rest!

The learning objective for this presentation is to address the aforementioned gap in Lean training. The session is designed to introduce and help the attendees understand the value of a structured approach to DA. After surveying the subject and a brief history of the discipline, attendees will break into small groups and explore the following DA tools through structured in-session exercises:

1. Decision Matrix

2. Kepner Tregoe Decision Matrix

3. Decision Trees

4. Sensitivity Analysis

In previous seminars, the context of opening a small cafe and making a decision on cheese has been utilized. Within this approach, 3 - 5 kinds of cheese are provided for each team (along with crackers and juice - not wine!). The participants are offered instruction in each tool and then asked to make a decision using the tool provided. The optimal approach is to start with the simplest tool and to move to the more complex.

Through the application of the tools to the case-studies, the concept of bias and several well-known biases will also be introduced. As Lean Six Sigma practitioners, the value of understanding bias to effective decision-making is vital.

Custom Excel-based templates and web-based interaction will be provided and be offered as takeaways from the session.