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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

Time-Critical Decision Making

The Mars Express Experience

the presentation
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Key Decision Factors

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analysis of results
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
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
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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