Decision Structuring with Influence Diagrams” and “Dialogues for Framing Decisions”

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Be sure to go through all the instructional materials in Module 3, “Decision Structuring with Influence Diagrams” and “Dialogues for Framing Decisions” before trying to complete this assignment. As you should have seen in your reading of DA for the Professional Chapter 11, there are a number of rules about how to do an influence diagram correctly, but don’t be concerned about doing it perfectly the first time – just use the tool freely to get your ideas on paper. You will have time to learn the rules and improve your skill with influence diagrams later. The rules are important if you want to build mathematical models of your decisions based on the diagrams, which is somewhat beyond the scope of this course, though you will have a taste of it.

Note: While you will not be graded on how you follow the rules technically, you will be graded on whether your work reflects having studied the examples and instructions you should have read about in Decision Analysis for the Professional. Also, you should reflect knowledge of what was presented in these lessons from the last module:Dialogues for Framing Decisions. You might want to review those PowerPoint slides briefly to refresh your memory. Your work must reflect a serious effort to study and apply the techniques demonstrated in your assigned readings and media.

Hint, and caveat: You will not receive much credit if you just make up a drawing of some sort using random shapes and symbols. An influence diagram is not a mind map. The circle, square, and diamond, as well as the arrows between them, have specific meanings. Technically the specific use of the symbols is called semantics. You must attempt to use the correct semantics as demonstrated in the course presentations and readings. While perfection is certainly not expected in your first attempt, your diagram should tell a story that is consistent with your decision appraisal report, and should demonstrate a thorough engagement with the readings and presentations as reflected in your emerging understanding of the semantics of Influence Diagrams.

Note these semantics align perfectly with the philosophical foundation of this course, as represented in the Decision Wheel. The square aligns with “doing” and represents choice, or perfect control (remember the light switch metaphor). The diamond represents “caring” – your values and preferences. The circles and arrows represent your “believing,” your model of the cause, effect, and chance (uncertainty) relating “what you do” to “what you care about.”

Internalizing these semantics can help you develop powerful critical thinking abilities, as well as an incisive approach to communicating about value, uncertainty, risk, and decision problems in general. Developing these skills to their fullest requires starting with System 2, and practicing enough that that the semantics become part of your world view and your System 1 will start to apply them automatically. Therefore, you should expect to think hard about this first attempt, and do your best. You will receive feedback throughout the course to help you learn. The important thing at this initial stage is to do your best to apply the semantics to represent your decision.

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