chapter  5
15 Pages


WHAT ARE STRATEGIC-PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS? In Chapter 3, I described different methods for making decisions. Decisions are ubiquitous. We make numerous decisions every day. The more important the decision, the more time we typically invest in considering alternatives, constructing scenarios and stories, and matching decision options to those scenarios (see Chapter 3 for descriptions of these activities). Such decisions are made in leisure time, when the decision maker spends as much time as necessary contemplating the options. However, there are more complex, dynamic decisions that frequently must be made by experienced practitioners under conditions of time-induced stress. Such problems include:

• military commanders leading troops in battle while under fire; • arbitrator or mediator conducting negotiations among litigants; • fire commanders leading fire fighters in extinguishing a large fire; • intensive-care nurses treating neonatal patients; • teacher dealing with a class of forty middle-school students; • air-traffic controller guiding aircraft at a New York airport; • quarterbacking during a football game; • fighter pilot engaged in combat; • executive director running a large conference; • hostage negotiator during a large bank robbery; • union negotiator during contract talks; • senators trying to get a Bill to the floor;

• emergency-room doctors and nurses treating emergency patients. The problems solved by these people require far more than decision making. They:

• are ill structured; • occur in dynamic, uncertain, and changing environments; • have shifting, ill defined, or competing goals; • result in action-feedback loops (not simple, one-shot decisions); • exist under times of stress; • have high-stakes consequences (often life and death); • have multiple players involved; • are mediated by strategic organizational goals and norms.