Time for Decision | Decision-Making Training Activity

Based on a real incident, here’s a chance to practise clear thinking and decision making under pressure.

Learning Objectives

  • Ways of handling tough decisions under pressure
  • To maintain a logical approach to problem solving
  • To have a sense of urgency but to avoid panic
  • To take all the constraints and variables into account.
  • To reach consensus decisions within the team
  • Participants

    Up to 4 teams of 3-6 per team

  • Timing

    1 hour + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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The Activity

Having just taken off in a passenger jet from Khartoum Airport you have a problem with the flaps. There’s no imminent danger but you need to land for repairs. Returning to Khartoum is not as good an idea as it might appear - there’s no chance of re-fuelling there so you’d have to wait - and that has a massive knock-on effect on your airline’s schedules. Cairo would normally be an option but they are experiencing severe sandstorms. As your pilot hours tick away, there’s the added problem of the availability of relief crews to fly the plane on to its final destination in London. While you are weighing up these and other constraints you are of course using up fuel - and that in itself narrows down the options. A decision is needed - and fast!

An audio recording simulates radio transmissions and the growing sense of urgency, which adds realism to the task. And regular time announcements put teams under even more pressure as they work out how best to get back to Heathrow, with the minimum of disruption.

Clear lessons emerge about decision making processes and the need to have a calm, logical approach under pressure.

Trainer's Role

  • Introduce the activity
  • Issue Team Briefs and map
  • Allow 15 minutes for teams to elicit further information from you (supply them with the appropriate datacards that are only available on written request)
  • Allow a further 5 minutes for discussion, then announce take off and play the audio recording
  • After 10-15 minutes, teams hand in a revised Flight Schedule
  • Discuss what happened and encourage groups to share the decisions they made with others. Did they all make the same decision? What factors led them to their decisions?
  • Discuss best practice and agree a decision-making model the teams can adopt at work
  • Full guidance provided in the Trainer’s Notes.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • PowerPoint Presentation and Audio Recording (supplied on USB)
  • Team Briefing Sheets
  • Datacards
  • Planning Charts
  • Decision Forms

A great activity, always hugely successful with delegates. Used as an important and fun practical exercise on many management development programmes. Delegates have included supervisors, project managers and all levels of management (including directors). The best learning points included developing a structured process for decision-making, involving team members in the process, therefore raising their level of commitment to the outcome, confidence in their ability to use the process. Would be happy to recommend highly to others.

Joe Taylor, Director, Positive Skills

Tremendous fun! For getting people to work under time-pressure it is undoubtedly the best exercise on the market. I find it extremely useful in getting people to focus on using a decision-making model.

G. Lack, Media Training

Excellent, especially for learning to avoid the 'action-anxiety trap'!

Anon, Consultant

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