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Time-Critical Decision Making The Mars Express Experience The Presentation Why study Mars Express? Decision-making in Groups: Theory Decision theory applied to Mars Express Analysis and Discussion Conclusions & Recommendations Further Research Topics Research Objectives

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Time-Critical Decision Making

The Mars Express Experience

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The Presentation

  • Why study Mars Express?

  • Decision-making in Groups: Theory

  • Decision theory applied to Mars Express

  • Analysis and Discussion

  • Conclusions & Recommendations

  • Further Research Topics

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Research Objectives

  • Improve awareness of decision-theory

  • Understand the decision-process

  • Identify key decision-biasing factors

  • Methods to mitigate against these factors

  • Identify topics for further research

  • Complete my MBA thesis 

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The Mars Express Mission

  • First ESA flexi-mission procurement

  • Fast, Cheap and … in the Spotlight!

  • First ESA inter-planetary mission to fly (designed to be the second!)

  • Five Phases in one Mission

  • Mars Capture @ 02.51 UTC 25 Dec 03

  • ... or rename the mission “Jupiter Express”

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Decisions: Rationality & Heuristics

  • Pre-program decisions in operations using procedures and mission rules

    • Minimise resources tied-up in decision-making

  • Rational intentions: real decisions

    • Compromised by imperfect knowledge, and…

    • Human emotion, preference and judgment

  • Coping with Complexity

    • Heuristics: “rules of thumb” = mental models

    • decision outcome based on assessments of probability are affected by judgmental bias

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Managing decisions in Groups

  • Factors due to Group decision-making

    • “Local rationalities” – group composition?

    • “Risky-shift” – diffusion of responsibility

    • Mobilization of bias – organization: culture and rules

  • Management factors

    • Uncertainty avoidance

    • Incrementalism

    • Avoid long-term irreversible decisions!

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Judgement under Uncertainty

  • Representativeness Heuristic

    • Tend to fit data to an existing mental model: “Law of Small numbers”

  • Availability Heuristic

    • Retrievability of similar instances

    • Bias of imaginability: conceivable event?

  • Adjustment and Anchoring

    • Insufficient correction when probability assessment based on an initial value

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Research Methodology

  • Time-critical decisions mostly correlated with spacecraft anomalies

  • Anomaly review (MRB) minutes used to assess how decisions might be affected by biasing factors

  • Identify key decision factors which affect the most decisions

  • Identify effective mitigating measures

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Key Decision Factors

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Analysis of Results

  • complex anomaly + critical decision =>more decision factors come into play

  • Analysis is limited to identifying which decision factors could affect the outcome

  • Each anomaly review assessed as one integrated decision

  • Mitigating methods present in decision process and formalization

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Mitigating Decision Risks

  • Group-decision effects: involvement, organizational culture, compromise!

  • Management: periodic decision reassessment, decision process formalism

  • Availability heuristic: data access

  • Representativeness: agency expert review of models and analysis

  • Adjustment/Anchoring: careful use of historical data, expert review

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Conclusions, Further Research

  • One irrational decision could end a mission: decision-bias factors are critical!

  • Organisational & management awareness of decision factors

  • “Lessons learned”: include decisions that were affected by bias-factors: how & why

  • Improve, refine mitigation of decision-bias

  • Comparison with other fields of decision making in operational contexts

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