An Extended Model of Decision Making: A Devil's Advocate Workshop

An Extended Model of Decision Making: A Devil's Advocate Workshop

David Sammon (University College Cork, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-843-7.ch040
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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages can be described as the most sought after means of organisational transformation and IT innovation since the mid 1990s. Over the past decade, ERP packages have become a major part of the organisational landscape and form the cornerstone of IS architectures for an ever increasing percentage of organisations. Despite the strong push toward enterprise-wide ERP systems in the wider organisational community and the experience accumulated over 20 years of large scale integrated systems implementations, there is, in relation to ERP deployment, a lack of understanding of the specific project management required to counter the difficulties that can arise when organisations fail to ensure that all the required factors of success are present in their projects. Therefore, novel ideas to help managers and project managers to better prepare for enterprise-wide ERP projects are badly needed. This entry presents a method of practical relevance for organisational decision-makers by introducing the concept of a devil’s advocate workshop—reminiscent of Klein’s premortem sessions (Klein, 1993, 2002), but tailor-made for large scale Information Systems projects—which leverages the concept of sense-making, in introducing a preplanning “intelligence” phase in any enterprise-wide ERP project life-cycle.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dialectical Inquiry: The dialectical inquiry approach uses creative conflict to help identify and challenge assumptions to create new perceptions amongst decision makers. Usually, the dialectical process focuses on disagreements which are turned into agreements, or indeed there is a transformation in the dialogue in that direction.

Sense-Making: The process of creating situational awareness and understanding in situations of high complexity or uncertainty in order to make decisions.

Premortem: The opposite of postmortem, a premortem explores why a project might die in the future. A premortem would involve imagining that something has gone wrong with a project in the future and trying to establish what has caused this failure.

Critical Success Factors: CSFs have been applied to many aspects of organisational research and are defined as those critical areas where things must go right for the business or project to be successful.

Devil’s Advocate: To play devil’s advocate is to argue against the decision that someone is contemplating. The concept of devil’s advocate has a tendency to emphasise the negative aspect of dialectics. The devil’s advocate approach is said to promote adversarial decision processes where one participant deems themselves to win, while another participant is deemed to lose with regard to deciding on the preferred course of action to take.

Decision-Making: A decision-making process is a cognitive process which produces a final choice to take a course of action. Therefore, decision-making is a reasoning process which can appear to be rational or irrational and can be based on assumptions or preconceptions.

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