There are two styles of decision-making: intuitive and analytical. Bjørn T. Bakken, a researcher BI Norwegian Business School, wanted know which one was best in a crisis situation. Turns out, you need both.
“In a real crisis, you simply don’t have time to wait for sufficient information to build up a picture and analyse the situation,” Bakken said. “You need to make the initial decisions quickly, based on your experience-based intuition. As you receive more information, you can analyse your way to adjustments and more decisions. Those who make the best decisions in a crisis practice a flexible decision style that switches between intuition and analysis.”
Bakken had study participants sit in front of a simulator, where they had to make different types of crisis (e.g., natural disasters, accidents, and terrorist attacks) decisions. The decisions had to be made under time pressure and with a variety of resources, such as vehicles. More than 800 participants took part in the simulation.
Based on his study, he identified six pieces of advice for leaders and staff for crisis situation decisions.
“The organization needs to show that it values the work of each emergency response staff member and the experience he or she is accumulating,” he said.
“Staff must be encouraged to make decisions based on their experience combined with analysis. If you are short of time, you need to trust your intuition. If you have time to combine intuition with analysis, then do so.
“Most of us can develop an intuitive decision style by practicing (i.e., by gaining experience).
“Crisis handling exercises should be organized so that they encourage and require quick, intuitive decisions based on experience, rather than just testing people’s ability to analyse and comply with established guidelines.
“Organizations need good leadership, not more control, in order to develop the staff’s ability to make good decisions in a crisis.
“It must be understood and accepted that during a crisis staff may make decisions that later on prove to be wrong,” he continued. “Leaders have a responsibility to develop a learning culture in the organization.”
You can learn more about decision making during crisis situations at our upcoming Academy for Venue Safety & Security conference, Feb. 23-27, 2014, in Dallas.
(Image via Flickr: vaXzine/Creative Commons)