Decision Engineering

Decision Engineering is a framework that unifies a number of best practices for organizational decision making. It is based on the recognition that, in many organizations, decision making could be improved if a more structured approach were used. Decision engineering seeks to overcome a decision making "complexity ceiling", which is characterized by a mismatch between the sophistication of organizational decision making practices and the complexity of situations in which those decisions must be made. As such, it seeks to solve some of the issues identified around complexity theory and organizations.[1]

Decision Engineering Framework.png
source: Saylor.Org

It is interesting to note that, despite decades of development of decision support system and methodologies (like decision analysis), these are still less popular than spreadsheets as primary tools for decision making. Decision engineering seeks to bridge this gap, creating a critical mass of users of a common methodology and language for the core entities included in a decision, such as assumptions, external values, facts, data, and conclusions. If a pattern from previous industries holds, such a methodology will also facilitate technology adoption, by clarifying common maturity models and road maps that can be shared from one organization to another. The decision engineering approach is multidisciplinary, unifying findings on cognitive bias and decision making, situational awareness, critical and creative thinking, collaboration and organizational design, with engineering technologies. Decision engineering is considered an improvement upon current organizational decision making practices, which include the use of spreadsheets (difficult to QA, hard to collaborate and discuss), text (sequential in nature, so is not a good fit for how information flows through a decision structure), and verbal argument. The movement from these largely informal structures to one in which a decision is documented in a well understood, visual language, echoes the creation of common blueprint methodologies in construction, with promise of similar benefits.

Decision engineering is both a very new and also a very old discipline. Many of its elements—such as the language of assessing assumptions, using logic to support an argument, the necessity of critical thinking to evaluate a decision, and understanding the impacts of bias — are ancient. Yet the realization that these elements can form a coherent whole that provides significant benefits to organizations by focusing on a common methodology is relatively new.

See Also

Decision Making
Decision Engineering
Decision Model
Decision Theory
Decision Tree


  1. Definition -What is Decision Engineering? Saylor.Org