Decision trees: What are they?
They’re a simple decision support tool that helps people make better decisions. You’ll find them used in all kinds of professions, from finance to aviation. If you’ve recently visited a doctor you’ll probably have seen them peering at a PC as they ask you a series of questions; they’re following a decision tree to arrive at a diagnosis.
Why use them to build procedures?
Because they follow a fixed logical structure, users find them quick and easy to use. In contrast, traditional procedure formats such as flow charts, can confuse users and take a long time to navigate. In a high pressure situation, uncertainty is your enemy.
What are popular use cases?
Almost any procedure can be made into a decision tree. For example, our users have developed everything from mental health to key safety protocols.
We recommend they are built for any low frequency, high impact scenario which requires a decision to be made quickly. For example, a fire alarm is a low frequency, high impact event. In the event of a fire, a tree can help with what button to press on a fire panel.
Here at SIRV we use them for lots of scenarios, such as disaster recovery. In this case, our tech team will use them to ensure they do the right things, in the right order. As a result, uncertainty and pressure is greatly reduced.
Checklists and decision trees
Since the Second World War checklists and decision trees have been used to help pilots. But today you’ll find them used in every walk of life. If you’d like to find out more, we recommend Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right.
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