While decision choices are certainly important and warrant appropriate attention, early stages of the decisionmaking process may be even more critical in terms of needing adequate support. The alternatives from which a decision maker may be able to choose are integrally tied to the assumptions made about the problem situation. Consequently, decision support systems (DSSs) may be more effective in helping decision makers to make good choices when support for problem formulation is provided. Research validates the notion that support for problem formulation and structuring leads to better decisions. This article explores this concept and looks at opportunities in emerging software trends to continue development of problem formulation support in DSS-type settings.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Messy Problem: A messy problem is a problem that is characterized by the absence of a correct solution. Messy problems are typically complex problems requiring significant judgment and involving multiple stakeholders who have conflicting goals.
Problem Structure: How the constituent parts of a problem (i.e., its important factors and variables) are believed to relate and interact with one another.
Decision Model: It is a codified process for making a decision. An example of a decision model is Simon’s intelligence-design-choice model, which specifies that one first determines the existence of a problem or an opportunity (intelligence in the military sense of the term), then designs alternative means to solve the problem (or exploit the opportunity), and then chooses the alternative deemed best.
Inquiring System: It is a system designed to systematically investigate a situation for the purpose of acquiring or creating knowledge.
Inquiry: Inquiry is a systematic process of investigation.
Intelligence-Design-Choice: This is an example of a decision model formulated by H. A. Simon. In this model, one first determines the existence of a problem or an opportunity (intelligence in the military sense of the term), then designs alternative means to solve the problem (or exploit the opportunity), and then chooses the alternative deemed best.
Problem Formulation: It is the process of determining the constituent parts of a problem: its important factors and variables, and the interrelationships between them.