Decision making challenges in military, police, and law enforcement - defining the problem
Keywords: Decision making, OODA loop, information overload, information silos, battle rhythm, intelligence collection plan
We live in the age of technology and information. We have more devices, processing power, data, ways and means than ever before to process and analyse data, but decision making often still fails in critical moments due to a lack of context of the situation and environment in which we operate.
Decision making requires more than situational awareness
At SensusQ we see that decision making problems often rest on the OODA-Loop Observe and Orient phases – information is hard to find, understand, and present for decision making. The result is organisations drowning in information overload and feeling helpless to support the mission. Even if organisations are aware of the situation, they may not understand the situation, which is the most essential element in achieving decision making confidence and decision dominance. Ultimately, this can lead to mission failure or worse loss of life.
There is too much information and its growing
As intelligence specialists, we know that the volume of information is constantly increasing and exceeding our capabilities to process it effectively and turn it into better and informed decisions. This especially applies in critical and competitive situations. We may have all the data needed, but we are unable to put it into a context and present it in a meaningful way. As a result, we lose before we enter a fight. At SensusQ, our aim is to structure the incoming data in a meaningful way, so that it can be found, accessed, and presented at the right time and in the right format to the right people.
Information silos: the need-to-know vs the need-to-share
The paradoxical problem is balancing the need to protect valuable information, collection ways, and means with the equally important need for information sharing. There are two problems here: technical readiness to securely the information and organisations willingness to share. The latter is more crucial, without a willingness to share, no technical means will be implemented. At SensusQ, our desire is to provide a trusted and secure marketplace for information sharing between different silos without revealing information origins or its context. We make silos know that there is information available in one silo that meets the Commanders’ Critical Information Requirements of another silo. In doing so, we establish an instant handshake between the information owner and the questioner to overcome the organisational barriers to information sharing.
The Database is often a folder on Desktop
In recent times, there has been a glut of intelligence gathering technologies, from software to physical sensors. Generally, each technology has existed in its own ecosystem. Leaving intelligence specialists with no alternative but to manually aggregate collected data. Data which often reside in a folder, on a desktop. While guidelines exist, in reality, the absence of a single unifying point of truth has led to every intelligence officer filing things in their own quasisystem. The effects of this are especially felt in operations where people tend to change or rotate over a period, causing confusion, stress, and incorrect estimates. It happens when there is no centralised solution for information management and every individual is the king of their own information. At SensusQ, we build a central hub for mission critical intelligence, so there is no need for ‘foldering’ and third-party applications.
Will more procedures help?
People are masters of creating procedures. However, more procedures kill initiative, flexibility, and adaptability in critical situations. Moreover, it slows our information management efforts and the decision making cycle. It is hard to exercise dynamic information collection and asset re-tasking practises if the intelligence collection plan synchronisation is held only on Wednesdays every week. At SensusQ, we believe that procedures are essential ways to manage organisations, but the intelligence decision support solution must work and support the commander’s effort, not hinder it.
Battle rhythm as an obstacle course
Another common way to solve information management and coordination problems is to add more meetings and briefings to a daily battle rhythm. By doing so, we also reduce time for real value creation. More time spent on meetings equals less time spent on work. At SensusQ, we reduce the time needed for coordination meetings and the time spent on meetings or reporting preparations by allowing people to access the right information in the right format whenever they need it. With the SensusQ software, reporting and meeting preparation shall be a straightforward and automated process with limited human involvement.
The intelligence collection plan as a nightmare
Based on our experience from multiple international and national operations, the intelligence collection plan creates a lot of stress. It is normally a spreadsheet file that never fits on your computer screen. There is little logic to be found when analysing who collects what and to what extent. As a result, sub-units collect what they see, not what is actually needed. At SensusQ, we aim for a dynamic and easy interface for collection plan creation and dynamic tasking of assets, so there is no need for complicated spreadsheet files. Subunits get their collection tasks through the intelligence decision support solution, and they can automatically report and reference information according to the commanders Intelligence Requirements.
There are ways to improve
At SensusQ, our aim is to improve an ability for a commander to sense, understand, decide, act, and assess faster and more effectively than any adversary. In other words, we provide an information management solution that targets critical decision-making challenges for organisations. Our desire is to create a feeling of information advantage and decision dominance in any competitive situation.