The Recognition-Primed Decision Model

In business, you don’t always have a lot of time to make a quality decision. While it would be great to be able to sit down in your office for a period of time to think through the various options at hand before making a choice, that simply isn’t how things work in the real world.

The Recognition-Primed Decision Model

Sometimes, you have to act quickly based upon the information that you have available. When that is the case, you might want to turn to the Recognition-Primed Decision (RPD) Model for assistance.

Within this model, there are three steps that you are going to work through as you make your decision. Those steps are as follows –

  1. Experiencing the situation.
  2. Analyzing the situation.
  3. Implementing the decision.

RPD Model Implementation

The following explanation will enable you to have a better understanding of each step in this important process.

Experiencing the Situation

At this first stage, you are going to ‘take in’ as much as possible about the situation that needs to be solved. If you don’t have all of the information available at the time, you aren’t going to be able to make a clear and appropriate decision.

Experiencing the Situation

One of the best things you can do at this stage is to listen. Listen to the people who are directly involved in the situation and will be able to tell you exactly what is going on, why it is a problem, and how they think it may be fixed. Even if you don’t wind up taking the advice of people directly related to the situation, asking for their input can help to stir your thought process.

In addition to listening, you are also going to want to see for yourself what is happening. How is the situation developing, and how is it changing over time? Does a decision really need to be made immediately, or do you have a bit of time to review some options and ideas? You need to avoid any sense of panic at this stage – keep a calm head, look over what is taking place, and move on to the next step in the process.

Analyzing the Situation

With a basic understanding of what is going on and why it is a problem, you next need to move into the analytical process to start to work toward a solution. You can ask yourself a number of different questions at this stage in order to trigger potential solutions based on past experience. For example, what about this situation is surprising, and what parts of it might you have seen coming? Is this something that has happened previously, even if in a slightly different way?

As you start to analyze the situation, it is likely that a few different potential solutions will come into your mind right away. While you may not have a ton of time available to work toward a solution, it is important not to jump at the very first idea that pops into your mind.

Analyzing the Situation

Try to be patient in the face of the ‘storm’ while reviewing what it is that you could do to reach a positive resolution. You are quickly gathering information during this stage of the process, all the while trying to think about as many potential solutions as possible. When you finish this step, you need to be ready to make a decision – so don’t cut this short unless absolutely necessary.

Implementing the Decision

Obviously, once a decision has been made, it will need to be implemented in a timely manner in order for it to be able to actually take effect. It does no good to quickly make a decision if you are then going to take your time implementing your choice – so get right down to business on putting this decision to work once you have gone through the first two steps of the model. As you are thinking about the various decisions you can make, the implementation phase is something that should always be in the back of your mind. After all, it isn’t going to be an effective decision if you aren’t able to implement it quickly to rectify the situation.

Implementing the Decision

Only those choices that are going to work in the practical application of implementation will be successful in the end.

The Importance of Training

Since you aren’t going to always have time to make important decisions over the course of days or weeks, you want to train yourself and your team to act quickly when necessary. By planning out some training sessions where you run through a variety of potential scenarios and situations, you may be able to ‘see the future’ and improve your performance when an emergency decision does arise.

This kind of training is rather popular in the business world, and for good reason. To go through this process, you are going to need to create a number of various potential scenarios that you could encounter in your specific business. Obviously, these scenarios should be ones that would limit you in terms of the time you would have to make a decision – they should be matters that will have to be settled in just minutes. If possible, it is a great idea to simulate the situations that you have created so yourself and your team can go through the process of having to figure out how to solve specific problems in a quick and efficient manner. Periodic training on the art of the quick decision just might save your business in a big way down the line when something does come up that requires a quick and correct choice.

The Importance of Training

The Recognition-Primed Decision Model is a simple outline of how you can go about the process of making decisions, but it is highly useful nonetheless. Teach yourself how to respond appropriately under pressure when you face a decision that has to be made quickly and you will be a better owner or manager for the experience. Good decisions are at the heart of successful business, and occasionally those decisions will need to be made in a hurry – the RPD Model can help you do so properly.

Key Points

  • Recognition-primed decision (RPD) is a decision making approach that functions well in situation where a quick decision is essential, goals poorly defined, and information is incomplete.
  • Decisions are based on a mental model that has been developed through experience rather than by considering a series of alternative courses of action.
  • The mental model used is based on cues and indicators that let them recognise patterns.
  • Based on these patterns and the decision they have to make, the decision maker will select the first course of action that is not rejected. This is known as an ‘action script’.
  • This action script is run through a mental simulation and if the decision maker considers the action script will achieve the goal then they go ahead.
  • If not, they alter the action script and consider the modified version. If they don’t think it will work, they discard it completely and choose another action script.
  • As people develop more expertise in their field, their ability to use RPD successfully improves because they are better able to correctly recognize the salient features of a problem and model viable solutions.

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