NA TIG Week: Decision-making Resources for your Needs Assessments by Maurya West Meiers

I’m Maurya West Meiers. I work at the World Bank as a Senior Evaluation Officer working on the Global Evaluation Initiative.  I’m also coauthor of A Guide to Assessing Needs: Essential Tools for Collecting Information, Making Decisions, and Achieving Development Results (free World Bank book).

Decision-making is fundamental to doing needs assessments (and other evaluation-related work) – whether in an organizational setting, for a community group, in a city, or in other contexts.  As such, I’m always interested in research and literature involving decision-making processes and tools, and usually I find these in psychology and business disciplines. So today I’m sharing some resources that have been useful to me when thinking about how to help individuals and groups make decisions on the categorizing of problems, the results that are desired, how to set priorities, and the best actions to take in a given situation.

McKinsey Resources.  My first tip is to sign up for the McKinsey Organization Blog.  McKinsey is generous in sharing their research, and the ‘organization’ blog has a number of sub-topics related to decision-making – among them are change management, organizational design, leadership, and many others.  Any of their articles and tools will lead you to other linked resources.  On decision-making, a couple of nice resources are Untangling Your Organization’s Decision-making and Five-Fifty.  If you like listening to podcasts, listen to Decision making in your organization: Cutting through the clutter.

Harvard Business Review (HBR).  Like McKinsey, HBR has a wealth of information on decision-making.  A 2006 HBR Magazine featured decisionmaking articles.  Another useful read includes this HBR article Noise: How to Overcome the High, Hidden Cost of Inconsistent Decision Making with lead author Daniel Kahneman (Nobel Prize winner in economics at Princeton – though he’s a psychologist).  HBR also offers podcasts, such as this podcast by Kahneman, Why Smart People (Sometimes) Make Bad Decisions.  Not HBR, but if you like Kahneman (you can tell I do) also check out his book Noise and this podcast from the Behavior Scientist.

Roundup.  And finally here is a ‘miscellaneous roundup’ of some other resources on decision-making (and related topics) to get you started, including Mindtools’ website with a list of articles; the Ladder of Inference developed by professor Chris Argyris and further elaborated on in Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline and described in this video; and, finally, the Behavioral Scientist has a lot of interesting resources.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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