Type or insert your answer immediately after each question. Use as much space as you need for clarity, while still being concise. Be sure to distinguish your answers from your calculations. Any incomplete material included for partial credit must be readable and clear, as well as logically coherent and easy to understand.
Your final document must be one, and only one, doc, docx or pdf file. You can insert charts or diagrams from PowerPoint or Excel, or you can use the graphical functions in Word. Hand drawings are discouraged and any photograph of such drawings must have very bright lighting to be readable. Always use the “Paste Special as jpeg” or the “Paste Special as png” command for all inserts so that you can resize the insert to fit on the page as desired, and so that the final size of your exam document is no more than a few MB. Your document may not upload properly if its total size is too large. Your entire exam must be readable and clear.
For this final assignment, you are asked to apply the decision analysis tools and techniques that you have learned this quarter to frame, structure, model, assess, evaluate, appraise, critically analyze, and plan to implement one of the most important personal decisions that you will be making in the next 5 years. The purpose is to develop a clear strategy that optimizes your preferences in the face of a complex and uncertain world. Depending on your age, abilities, and life situation, possible decisions could include:
which undergraduate or graduate school to attend, including what course of study to pursue, where to live, how to finance your education, and similar decisions;
what career job offer to pursue after your graduation, including which industries and companies, what geographic location, what living arrangement, and similar choices;
if, when, and how to pursue a professional career in your area of athletic or artistic talent, including what to do afterwards if that career opportunity ends;
if, when, and how to spend a productive “gap year” traveling or pursuing an avocation/cause about which you are passionate.
Do not analyze any decision that you have already made because many of the outcomes may already be known. Also, do not choose an obviously routine, operational, or tactical decision that has only a single realistic alternative and little, if any, uncertainty.
Your decision should require an irrevocable allocation of scarce and valuable resources – money, time, people, or technology – to pursue a course of action that is intended to achieve outcomes with reasonable probabilities of providing you with the value attributes that you most prefer.
Possible uncertainties you might want to include in your analysis are:
your academic, athletic, and/or artistic performance success,
your job and/or occupational performance success,
your personal, family, and/or lifestyle success,
whether you are injured or disabled and, thus, unable to continue an activity,
your lifetime earnings from your career(s),
the financial return and risk of your invested assets,
macroeconomic factors, such growth in the national economy (GDP growth), or political/regulatory situations, especially if these are conditioning uncertainties.
The probabilities used can be your own assessments or those of experts you trust.
Your preference function for each scenario path (prospect) in your tree should be calculated based on the outcomes of the relevant uncertainties, including those set to their base-case values after using your tornado diagram. You’ll most likely need a multiattribute preference function that has tradeoffs among tangible and intangible values. Your outcome scale assessments should be clear and consistent. Weightings of your selected attributes should be determined by willingness-to-pay assessments, such as is done using the Walk-Away Wizard.
Questions are briefly summarized in the box below. This gives you an overview of the exam so you can plan the time you’ll spend on each question. The actual exam questions will provide much more detail about the specific requirements for each question.
Maximum points will be awarded for answers that are clear, concise, well organized, reasonable, logical, and insightful. Please proofread your entire document before submitting. It’s a good idea to download your document after submission to ensure that it opens and is readable, as you intended.
Feel free to use the PowerPoint and Excel templates provided on Canvas, altering colors or fonts if slides would then fit better with your desired format. Type or insert your answers following each question directly into this document, starting on the next page.
IMPORTANT: Please read each question carefully and be sure to answer all parts. Each answer should be consistent with your answers from all other questions.
Summarize the essential context of your decision situation in at most 300 words. State clearly and concisely what decisions need to be made, how you intend to make them, and who the decision maker(s) will be. Briefly indicate why these decisions are important, and when and where they will be made.
Frame your decision basis. Use an in/out diagram to define the scope, boundary, and perspective of your decisions. Create a SWOT diagram or an issues list. Issues should include alternatives that specify the choices you control, information that identifies future uncertain consequences you do not control, and preferences that identify trade-offs you must assess among value attributes. Process and people issues can also be included if they are important for your decision. In addition, using a single sentence, describe the personal vision you intend to achieve, entirely or in part, by making these decisions. Ensure that your frame is consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Construct a strategy table for your decision situation with:
columns for your strategy themes and for four or more decision categories,
three or more options in each decision category column, and
four or more strategy themes with associated paths that identify significantly different, yet still viable, alternative strategies.
For two of these alternative strategies, provide convincing rationales that explain why each of these very different alternative strategies would be feasible and would optimize your preferences. Ensure that your strategy table is consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Draw a decision diagram for your decision situation that includes the decision categories relevant to your two selected alternative strategies and at least five different uncertainties. One or more of these uncertainties should be independent of any decision so that you can calculate later the value of information on these uncertainties. Identify the arrow type (Informational, Influence, Relevance, and Functional) for each arrow in your decision diagram and explain what these different types of arrows mean in the context of your decision diagram. Also, explain what it means when you choose not to draw arrows between any two factors in your decision diagram. Ensure that your decision diagram is consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Identify the attributes and related weights for your multi-attribute preference function. For almost all decisions, at least one attribute will be measured in money and have an obvious weight of 1.0. Other attributes may also be measured in money. However, at least one of your attributes must be an intangible that requires using the Walk-Away Wizard to determine your monetary equivalent value for different outcomes of that intangible attribute. Examples of possible intangibles are the value you place on: long-term pain or discomfort from injury, time spent with family and friends, time spent as a volunteer in community service, or professional recognition of noteworthy accomplishments. Include those intangible attributes in your preference function that are important and relevant to you. Explain the logic of the outcome scales you use to define these intangible attributes. Also, describe how you assessed your attribute weights and why you think that they are reasonable. Your preferences should be consistent with the direct values indicated in your decision diagram.
Assess ranges for your uncertainties and create a tornado diagram. Identify input values for the 10-50-90 percent cumulative probability ranges for all of the uncertainties in your decision diagram. Using your preference function to calculate net values, create appropriate bars in a tornado diagram for the two alternative strategies that you have selected for evaluation. Be sure to include a column on the right-hand side with calculations for the contribution of each uncertainty to risk. Although not required, you may include joint sensitivities of dependent uncertainties if you believe these would be insightful. Ensure that this tornado diagram is consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Simplify your strategy table by showing only the relevant decision categories for the two alternative strategies that you have chosen to analyze. Simplify your decision diagram by showing only the top three uncertainties, and their relationship arrows, that contribute the most to the risk of your decision. Indicate any changes that these simplifications will mean for the attributes or weights in your preference function. Double-check to ensure that these tools are still consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Define outcomes (the labels on the branches of a tree) and assess probabilities for your key uncertainties. For each distinct outcome, assess probabilities based on subjective judgments from experts or from your own experience. If an uncertainty has three outcomes, you may wish to assign appropriate probabilities using the range assessments from your tornado diagram. If you decide to simplify your tree by having only two outcomes for an uncertainty, you may wish to use either direct assessment of discrete outcome probabilities or a 2-step discretization of a cumulative probability distribution. Finally, identify a different cognitive or motivational bias for each of your top three uncertainties that might affect the quality of your probabilistic judgments, and describe the methods you will use to reduce each of these biases. Ensure that your probability assessments and uncertainties are consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Structure your simplified decision tree and evaluate the expected (probability-weighted average) values of your tree that has two alternative strategies and three key uncertainties. Use your preference function to calculate the value for each scenario endpoint of your decision tree, and then rollback the expected values along each path to calculate the conditional expected value at each node for each strategy. Indicate your preferred alternative strategy, and explain how and why some of your key uncertain factors contributed to its expected value. Ensure that your decision tree and all calculated values are consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Assess your risk tolerance, and evaluate the expected (probability-weighted average) utilities and certain equivalents (risk-adjusted monetary values) in your decision tree. Determine your maximum personal risk tolerance, R, and explain how you arrived at this assessment. Use an exponential utility function, such as u(x) = 1 – e –x/R, to calculate utility values for each endpoint of your decision tree. Roll back the expected utilities along each path to calculate the conditional expected utility at each node and for your decision. Finally, convert the expected utility for each of your two alternative strategies to a certain equivalent using an inverse function, such as x = -R * ln (1 – u(x)). Indicate your preferred strategy by comparing the certain equivalents and explain any difference from your preferred strategy that was based on expected values. Ensure that this risk-adjusted analysis is consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Create a “flying bars” chart for your two selected alternative strategies. For each evaluated alternative strategy, identify the middle 80% range of the values from a cumulative probability distribution of the net value calculated from your preference function for all paths in your decision tree. For each alternative strategy, label appropriately the point where 10% of the values are even lower and the point where 10% of the values are even higher. Also, indicate the expected value and the certain equivalent for each strategy. Select your preferred strategy and explain why this alternative is the best one for you considering the rewards and risk of each strategy. Ensure that your flying bars chart is consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Calculate the value of perfect information for two of your uncertainties and the value of imperfect information for one of your uncertainties. If needed to create independence of these uncertainties and thereby enable informational analysis, you can (1) define new uncertainties conditional on your decisions, or (2) create non-overlapping bins of outcomes, or (3) “flip the tree” if the uncertainties are dependent on other uncertainties. Use reasonable assumptions for the reliability of the forecaster of your imperfect information. Explain why each information calculation has value or does not have value, particularly with regard to the choice of an optimal strategy.
If, and only if, you have zero value of perfect information for both of your selected uncertainties, then instead do a robustness analysis to determine what new or revised consequences could
(1) make the dominant strategy less valuable to you, and (2) make the inferior strategy more valuable to you. You should identify consequences that could cause a decision switch. Use your model to estimate by how much these deterministic or uncertain consequences might affect the expected values and certain equivalents of your two strategies.
Ensure that your informational or robustness analysis is consistent with the rest of your analysis.
Assess your decision quality at this point in your analysis using a “spider” diagram. Be sure to include specific, concise evidence for your assessments on each of the six dimensions of decision content (the “what”), as well as additional quality assessments for process (the “how”) and people (the “who”). This evidence should provide convincing reasoning for why you made the assessments that you did, including reasons why you believe that your quality is high as well as reasons why you believe it is low – even if on the same dimension. Explain which three dimensions you will select for additional effort and why you have chosen these over the other dimensions.
Identify the people you intend to involve as you frame, structure, model, assess, evaluate, appraise, critically analyze, and implement your strategy. State how you plan to include “the right people doing the right things, in the right way.” Specifically, why did you select the sources of expertise that you used to assess each of your probability judgments? Furthermore, describe how you will address the needs and concerns of all stakeholders (family, friends, employers, or others) who may be affected in any significant way by your decisions and their outcomes.
Consider the relevant evidence for any process or behavioral issues you believe are important for your strategy evaluation. Such issues could include:
your decision process or change management process needs;
challenging communication or commitment concerns;
relevant individual or organizational behavior influences;
risk management or opportunity creation possibilities you see;
or any culture, leadership, or management topics.
Summarize concisely how any four of these issues may affect your decisions and what you will do to address them effectively and efficiently. Explain why these may switch your strategy.