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Improving team decision-making

One approach to ameliorate the difficulties in team decision-making described above is to adopt the advanced team decision model (ATDM). this was developed by Zsambok et al. (1992) as a training programme for senior military officers to achieve more effective strategic team decision-making. The project focused on providing officers with the skills needed to observe, diagnose and improve decision-making of teams on which they may serve for only a brief period. The ATDM model identifies 10 key behaviours that are possessed by high-performing teams. the model was initially developed for planning teams (Klein et al., 1993; Klein and Miller, 1999) but has since been adapted for action teams (thordsen et al., 1996). the distinction between planning and action teams is that the job for a planning team is to produce a plan, whereas the job for an action team is to accomplish a task, i.e. by carrying out a plan.

the three core components of the ATDM model are shown in Figure 5.2.

  • Team identity describes the extent to which team members view the team as an independent unit, and operate from that perspective while engaging in tasks.
  • Team conceptual level (or team thinking) is concerned with the group mind of the team that thinks, solves problems and takes actions collectively.
  • Team self-monitoring is a regulatory process for all other processes. It is the ability of the team to observe itself while acting to accomplish its tasks.

Figure 5.2 Advanced team decision-making (Zsambok et al., 1992)

Reproduced by permission of Klein Associates inc.

The ATDM is intended to form the basis of both a training and an assessment tool. Full descriptions of the model and examples of the concepts and behaviours should be provided to team members and observers before use, and a questionnaire can be used to assess the team’s performance on the 10 key behaviours. the ATDM was developed for strategic as opposed to operational decision-making, therefore it would need to be further examined and modified to suit any alternative circumstances.

Training team decision-making

Team decision-making can be improved by organisational design, system design or formal team training (Orasanu and Salas, 1993). Effective training in team decisionmaking includes training teams in situation assessment, i.e. rapidly combining information and interpretations from team members, to evaluate options by using mental simulations, and using communication to develop shared mental models. CRM training courses typically train crews to manage information resources and workload, to co-ordinate their actions and communicate effectively. Chapter 10 provides more details on tools and techniques that can be used to train team decisionmaking.

 
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