Our new rapid prototyping book chapter

Our new book chapter, Rapid prototyping for decision structuring, is now available!  It describes a simple and effective process for facilitating conservation decisions using a structured decision making approach.

Structured decision making
The structured decision making process breaks decisions down into 6 decision components. A seventh adaptive management component may be necessary where uncertainty precludes decision making

Structured decision making is a process in which a decision is systematically broken down into individual decision components that can be separately explored and analysed in order to make better decisions.

It is popular in conservation because it enables decision makers to build a comprehensive picture of their decision, while also helping them avoid the pitfalls and address the challenges of making complex decisions. I could go on all day about this process and how great it is, but I won’t. This site is a great resource for anyone wanting to find out more about structuring decision making (SDM).

But applying the SDM process isn’t necessarily simple or efficient. For example, it is not uncommon for those analyzing a decision problem to become stuck or fixated on a particular part of the decision without knowing whether that component is likely to be crucial for solving the problem. Similarly, because people (even experienced decision makers!) are notoriously bad at identifying those things that they really care about, it is possible to get all the way to the end of the SDM process without realizing that an important objective has been left out.


And this is where rapid prototyping comes in. Rapid prototyping is an iterative approach for applying SDM that promotes a rapid progression through the development of the decision structure, from objective setting to estimating outcomes and even ‘solving’ the problem. It is an efficient approach to decision making, helping users to build the basic decision structure without getting stuck on individual components or investing in unnecessary detail. It is also revealing, allowing decision makers to identify any impediments to the decision and what additional tools, expertise and other resources are required to solve them.

Researchers from the USGS and the National Parks and Wildlife Service have been using rapid prototyping to structure and improve conservation decisions for a decade.  In our chapter, we describe the rapid prototyping process and use some of their case studies to highlight how it can improve conservation decisions, from identifying the core decision problem to identifying the need for more expertise and information.

decision making bookThe chapter, written in collaboration with Sarah Converse, Libby Rumpff and Mike Runge, is available in a new book, Decision-making in Conservation and Natural Resource Management: Models for Interdisciplinary Approaches.

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