That picture brought your usual clarity to the tangled complexity of ways we procure and use research and specialist advice.

reducing uncertainty

What's Involved

Decision makers hate uncertainty - it makes life so much more difficult, particularly when the critical issues involve specialist topics on which the decision makers are not themselves experts.

Unfortunately, it's the rule rather than the exception that the outcome of our decisions is uncertain, that we will need knowledge beyond our own to evaluate issues and solutions, and that such knowledge will come with its own uncertainties.  So reducing uncertainty with the help of others is something decision makers generally have to do on a routine basis.

How it's Done

Typical ways of reducing uncertainty when approaching a major decision include

What can go wrong

There are some spectacular examples of failure in this area - remember UK government statements about 'Mad Cow Disease' and the impossibility of its transfer to humans?  More generally, we find there can be major issues with

A common underlying issue here is that decision makers will put pressure on experts to come up with a precise answer - and will tend to think the 'best' expert is the one who responds with least uncertainty.  This is often absolutely not the case - the best expert will reveal the uncertainties as they are, and help make the best decision in the face of those uncertainties.

How we help

Much of our work is in this area, for example

TTAC's first ever project involved developing good practice advice on 'Dealing with Differences of Expert Opinion' - it's the first project on our PROJECTS page.