Decision Doctor Service

Got a problem? Let’s figure it out.

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Drawing from the latest advances in decision science, I will guide your organization through the process of analyzing a specific dilemma you’re wrestling with, and offer a recommendation for the strongest path forward taking into account your goals and priorities.

Decision Doctor service is best suited for decisions:

  • where there is a small number of clearly defined alternatives

  • that are causing your organization some stress, but not enough to merit commissioning a big strategic plan

  • that don't need to be made in the next few days

Examples could include whether to undertake a new project or initiative, whether to proceed with a proposed change in policies and procedures, which of several finalists to hire for an important position, whether to renovate or relocate the office; etc.

Note: in order to take advantage of Decision Doctor, it’s best if you already have a clear sense of your organization’s overall goals (e.g., through having created a theory of change). If you don’t, not to worry – I can help with this too!

HOW IT WORKS

The Decision Doctor service can be offered either as a highly targeted one-time project or as part of a flexible ongoing engagement. Below are more details about each path:

  • Targeted: Best for when you already have a specific dilemma in mind that you need help with.  We’ll start off with an initial kickoff call, during which I will work with up to four members of your team to extract relevant information about the decision at hand. Once I thoroughly understand the goals you’re optimizing for and the options available to you, I’ll build a model and ask your team members to predict all relevant factors as best they can. Then, I will run an analysis and come back to you with a recommendation. Simple as that!

  • Flexible: Best for when you are curious about the concept but need to learn more before committing, or expect to evaluate multiple decisions over a period of time. In this case, the initial call will take the form of a decision inventory. Over the course of 1-2 hours, I’ll work with you and a small stakeholder group to identify all of the decisions you anticipate needing to make over the next six to twelve months. We’ll then analyze the basic features of these decisions together and sort them into categories by key criteria. This no-obligation introductory session will give you a much more concrete sense of how analyzing specific decisions may or may not be useful for your organization. From there, we can either choose several decisions to bundle together for the targeted analysis described above, or we can explore a retainer arrangement to conduct analysis on decisions as opportunities come up on an ongoing basis.

Included in either version of the Decision Doctor service is a brief training for up to four members of your team on basic principles of effective decision-making. More in-depth training options are available for an additional fee.

UNDER THE HOOD

The Decision Doctor service is an innovative amalgam of several disciplines related to the science of effective decision-making, including cost-benefit analysis, logic modeling, Fermi estimation, forecasting, and Monte Carlo simulation. While the amalgam is my own invention, its component parts each have long and storied histories helping companies, governments, and nonprofits alike accomplish their goals more effectively. For example:

  • Decisions are, ultimately, predictions about what is going to happen as a result of your decision. Whole industries such as meteorology have been revolutionized by advanced forecasting techniques. In the corporate world, companies such as Twitch (the videogame livestreaming startup) have begun implementing forecasting into their everyday operations.

  • Monte Carlo simulation is a way of estimating outcomes by constructing thousands of alternate (but plausible) scenarios based on random chance. This data science technique is now used to power decisions about everything from draft picks to free agent contract offers in baseball, among many other applications.

  • Logic models have enjoyed wide adoption in the social sector ever since the United Way of America began deploying them across its chapter network in the 1990s. Logic models are great for thinking about how to quantify and measure nonfinancial goals, which is a crucial capability for maximizing mission impact.

YOUR DECISION PHYSICIAN

Ian David Moss works with grantmakers, governments, and knowledge infrastructure organizations to promote effective resource allocation in the social sector. Evidence-based strategic frameworks that Ian helped create have guided the distribution of nearly $100 million in grants to date. A five-time social entrepreneur, his successful ventures have won awards and inspired three spinoff organizations and a doctoral dissertation. Ian is in demand as a writer, editor, speaker, grant panelist, consultant, and guest lecturer, and holds BA and MBA degrees from Yale University. He is based in New York.