3. How do we identify the information we need? (Page 1)
Our objectives may arise from:
The organisation we work for (increase sales by 6%).
A set of circumstances forced on us (buy a new phone because the current one was
left in a shirt pocket and got washed).
A beneficial requirement (book a holiday).
If we don’t understand our objectives, we are never going to be able to define our
As an example, let’s assume the organisation we work for is based in London with
an Amsterdam office. We have to attend a meeting in the Amsterdam office at 11:00
on a specified day in about a month’s time. This is our objective.
Having identified our objectives, we need to determine the risks which might hinder
the achievement of them.
A risk may be defined as a set of circumstances which hinder the achievement of an
For our trip to Amsterdam, the risks are that we might: be late; arrive exhausted;
exceed the budget. The decisions we make about the mode of transport will need to
reduce these risks to a level we are prepared to accept.
Risks are part of life, so we have to manage them by:
Avoiding them (I won’t go to Amsterdam).
Insuring to offset any costs (I’ll take out travel insurance).
Controlling them (I’ll go by plane because it minimises the cost of the trip).
Accepting them (I’ll risk being 15 minutes late).
So we have to decide what action to take in order to reduce the risks to a level
acceptable to us.
So, we now need to identify the decisions necessary to minimise the risks to an acceptable
A decision is an action which mitigates a risk.
In our example, we must decide how to travel: plane, train or car. This decision
may give rise to other decisions; should we go a day early and stay in a hotel. If
so which hotel?
In identifying decisions, we need to understand:
A request for more information is not a decision, as it doesn’t mitigate a risk
– it just shows you didn’t get the right information in the first place.
A decision to do nothing is a decision. For example, if you have taken a patient’s
temperature and it is normal, you will take no action because there is no risk.