5 Steps to Good Decisions!™ | Decision-Making Training Activity

A realistic, exciting scenario demonstrates the value of a structured approach to team decision-making.

Learning Objectives

  • A logical decision-making procedure
  • To identify - early on - any constraints
  • To decide what information must be sought
  • To identify significant points in information
  • To establish a list of alternative solutions
  • To evaluate the alternatives
  • To take responsibility for consequences of their decisions
  • What it takes to work as a team

Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a licence for repeat use with up to 24 participants per training session within your organisation. Please ask for a discount for use with larger groups.

  • Participants

    3-24 (up to 4 teams of 3-6 per team)

  • Timing

    1.5 hours + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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The Activity

In this decision-making training activity, teams represent Local Pollution Officers and must protect a stretch of African coastline in the event of an oil spill at sea. Tankers passing close to the shore are a constant threat to the environment and the livelihood of the local community. With a budget of $30,000 teams make contingencies to deal with the possibility of a 1,000 barrel spill. As yet there is no oil spill but after teams have made their decisions news breaks of a spill and the success of their contingencies is put to the test.

A Team Brief explains the task and gives basic information and a sketch map showing critical areas such as fishing grounds, beaches, lagoons etc. But further information: the methods for dealing with oil on the sea, the effect of the weather etc must be obtained from a Data Bank (of just eight Data Cards). Teams need of course to ask the right questions and be prepared to pay (out of their budget). And the Data Bank opens only intermittently so teams need to be well prepared before ‘opening time’.

Once teams have all the data they review alternatives, make final decisions, allocate budget. They then submit their contingency plans on an Anti-Pollution Planning Form.

At this point teams receive news of an actual spill at sea - and their plans are put to the test. Working through an Incident Response Form exposes to teams how well their plans cope with the actual incident.

A discussion and debrief follows where the whole group can discuss performance, air views and list the learning points (all covered in the Trainer’s Notes). Finally scores are announced.

Highly motivating, fun, lots of learning!

Trainer's Role

1. Divide group into teams, briefly introduce the training activity and issue Team Briefs.

2. Observe teams in action, note how they work as a team, how they organise themselves, how they decide what information to seek. Do they discuss costs and budgeting?

3. Announce Data Bank opening, receive data requests, hand back relevant data (and repeat process at two further intervals, as per Trainer’s Notes). Observe how teams handle data.

4. Issue Anti-Pollution Planning Forms to teams and when completed, collect them up.

5. Issue Incident Report Forms and announce details of an oil spill: map ref, size, time of day etc. Allow time for teams to complete their report on how they deploy their resources.

6. End the session by issuing Team Review Forms to complete – ready for the debrief.

7. Lead the debrief bringing out key learning and especially the FIVE steps to good decisions! Full guidance provided in the Trainer’s Notes.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer's Notes
  • Team Briefs & Rulers
  • Sets of Eight Datacards
  • Trainer's Data Card Record Sheet
  • Data Request Forms
  • Planning Forms
  • Incident Response Forms
  • Team Review Forms

I liked '5 Steps to Good Decisions!' and will use it again. It has many other possible uses - teamwork, planning, problem solving, information analysis.

C. Fleming, MA Partnership

Everything produced by Northgate is well designed, of the highest quality and promotes a great deal of learning.

J. E. Rowland, Royal Devonport Dockyard (Babcock Intl Group)

'5 Steps to Good Decisions!' is extremely useful for reflecting on the whole decision-making process.

Dr Evangelos Kitsos, Senior Teaching Fellow, WMG, University of Warwick

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