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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide

Decision Analysis

go through page Purpose / Why / How / Go On


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navigate in the page--Purpose

  • Apply a systematic thought process to understand data and actions relevant to finding a solution to a problem.
  • Produce information in a useful form to find or refine a solution.


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navigate in the page--Why?

Everyone makes decisions, and we take it for granted. It is so automatic, we don't realize how much we are doing. Recognize what you are doing to develop good habits of decision making.

Decision processes are complex and messy--but necessary to get to a balanced, workable solution. To manage the process, decision analysts and facilitators organize information as it comes in. This helps to:

  • Create a systematic thought process.
  • Show the evolving relationships of an analytical decisionmaking process.

Document rationales for analytical methods, evaluation factors, and decisions


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navigate in the page--How

Don't count the number of steps you take up the mountain.

Avoiding the cliffs is what counts.

An experienced facilitator can guide the group through a process to determine what needs to be done and what will be necessary to complete the process. The group then becomes a unit working together to solve the problem--rather than an aggregate of individuals without focus.

The decison process provides a framework to organize the input. Steps in the process serve as categories for information (Use whiteboards, flip charts, or the decision process worksheets to keep track). To become familiar with the steps, go through the process yourself first--as a team member or on an individual decision. This will help show what goes where. (Note that the number of steps is not sacred--some books say 4 steps, others 8, and still others 12. Just follow a logical, well thought out approach.)

Using a Framework

Decision processes are simultaneous--rather than lock-step with discrete, separate phases. When you learned to drive, you learned about each step separately--but many steps are applied simultaneously, and all flow together into one smooth motion.

Likewise, information for many different steps comes in simultaneously, and it may become confusing. Using the steps as a framework to show what information goes where allows the group to see immediately that there are gaps which need to be filled in before implementation. While decision analysis is a constant process, bringing it out in the open at critical junctures can avoid conflicts and keep participants on track:

Initial venting*definition
Potentially affected individuals and groups have been stewing about the problems for a while before the process is formally started. Initial sessions will probably vent many fears and frustrations. In the midst of this, many needs*definition , goals*definition, resources*definition/ constraints*definition , and options will be voiced. Some individuals may even feel they have the solution in hand. Recording these will help participants see that a lot has already been done to develop and evaluate effective solutions--and what more needs to be done.
At each meeting
Summarizing the decision analysis prior to and at the beginning of each meeting provides an analytical statement of where the group is and where it is going. Team leaders can briefly state accomplishments and status of tasks to logically lead into what is to be accomplished at the meeting.
Taking stock
Having a list of what has been done at each step helps quickly determine how changes will affect the process and what needs to be done to accommodate these changes. This information and insights can then help update the action plan.

Going in Circles

The decision process is not a linear, neat package. In fact, it isn't even one process. Rather as in driving, one process to identify and handle problems or changes starts while in the midst of another. Smaller processes determine one aspect of analyzing data, documenting and communicating effectively, or refining a component, while larger processes cover the overall solution.

Further, the process does not go directly from point A to point B. At times, it seems as though you have skidded back to a "previous step." Actually, you are repeating an action but with a broader, clearer understanding of issues and participants. New players (interest groups, core team members, politicians, and others) enter the process at various points; new data lead to different evaluations

Think of the process as a spiral as you revisit these steps at a more comprehensive, "higher" level.


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navigate in the page--Go On

Dragon Tour wide-eyed dragon on the loose NEPA Compliance <-------> Identify Problems

Helpful Hints Tourwizbang help hereHurdles Chart <----> Consent/Consensus

Handyman's Tourcompass for handyman's tour<Action Plan <----> Worksheets

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GeneralKeep on Track

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Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.