Abstract for: Collaborative Decision Making in a Simulated Stability Operations Exercise: A Prototype Decision Support Tool

We report the results of a collaborative decision making exercise using a simulated stability operations task. The exercise allowed Canadian Forces personnel to experience first-hand the benefits and challenges of taking an integrative decision making approach (i.e., with information and resource sharing) compared to a stovepipe approach (no communication and partial view of the whole system). While teams generally achieved greater mission success in the integrated condition, they could only partially cope with the complexity of such an endeavor. A training session on systems thinking and collaborative design generally improved integrated planning effectiveness. We designed a decision support tool capable of suggesting an effective integrated course of action based on qualitative information about system structure and effects. The tool essentially relies on an innovative 'action-oriented' cross-impact matrix and decision matrix that jointly allow deriving a viable resource allocation given a range of intervention options. The prototype tool aims to be simple and generic for use in real-life applications. The system's inputs are based on simple user judgements (i.e., mental models). We show that the tool provides solutions superior to most human teams. Future research will test the generalization of the approach and assess human ability to refine the tools' solutions.