Iterative Decision Model

Posted on May 15 2009

An iterative decision model is one in which the decision steps are made incrementally and tested at short intervals. This model is primarily used when there are trade-offs to be explored in evaluation of each step.

The iterative decision modelis popular especially in technology decisions, when alteratives are so specialized in application to the decision at hand, they must be tried and tested incrementally as decisions are made.

Often when the implications of a particular direction, which can be expressed as the importance of certain criteria, are not clear at the outset of the decision, we need to revisit the direction. Decision making is iterative.

Initially, some analysis is done to frame the problem or decision to be made. The requirements to bound the decision are gathered and documented. The first iteration is made when the individual or a group challenge the requirements. Requirements are then refined.

The next step in an iterative decision model is to apply design alternatives to the decision to be made. The alternatives are tried, or tested through either prototyping or models. The following step is to either create more design alternatives, or step back and test requirements again.

As part of the creation of design alternatives, the decision maker will try to predict the results. This can be done through modelling, or various model testing techniques. An example might be some critical decision making Tools , numerical or mathematically in nature that would predict the performance levels to be achieved by a particular decision.

As the results are collected, it may be determined that the design is unacceptable, and reverse loops may be taken to step back and either review our predictions, create new alternatives, or even model the results even further.

The last step in an iterative decision model is to implement the desired solution. In cases where usuable prototypes are employed, implementation work is partially completed. Prototypes are continually built upon until a final working version has been completed. In cases where prototypes are discarded and a production version is created, building is rapid and precise, as the models and prototypes which proceeded it have worked out most of the kinks.

One of the best examples of iterative decision making is with object oriented analysis and design. Huge information technology projects are undertaken and decisions are continually made, tested and built upon until final versions are rolled out.

In this situation, many interim or “alpha/beta” versions are released, until the final product is announced. These iterative versions may be very acceptable for those waiting for them, if they are quite anxious. One example might be in the health industry, where those who are so desparate for a solution to their critical illness, they are willing to sacrifice safety to try a solution through drug or treatment trials.

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