INSIGHT 2020 – Week 5: The decision-making toolkit


Decision-making is an art; we can train at it, rehearse and access tools to support us.

However, humans are also subject to a wide range of biases which can undermine the quality of decision making, especially in complex real-world systems.

This week’s theme focussed on the range of materials that exist to help us be better decision-makers.  We also thought about how we make best use of resources to collect the right evidence to support our decision-making, ensuring our methods are tested and reviewed with the aim of continuous improvement. 

What is in you decision-making toolkit?

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An introductory session to the Decision Support Toolkit, created by the Midlands Decision Support Centre (DSC). We heard from some of our inspirational local leaders on the components that they need to blend together to make good local decisions. We heard about how they triangulate evidence and intelligence to build decisions to improve outcomes. 

Speakers: Jackie Chin (NHSE/I), Dr David Shepherd (GP), Mark Pierce (LLR CCGs) and Rob Howard (Leicester City Council) 

Insight 2020 and NHS-R: Why the NHS and care system should use R

This was a joint event between the Insight 2020 Festival and the 3rd NHS-R Conference. The session introduced R – the open source programming language that’s used widely in finance and academia and is now being used more and more in health and care. 

Speakers: Mohammed A Mohammed (The Strategy Unit), Gareth Wrench (The Strategy Unit), Sarah Culkin (NHSX), Zoe Turner (Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust), Richard Wood (Bristol & North Somerset and South Glouscestershire CCG) and Neil Morgan (MLCSU) 

The Decision Support Centre’s Education & Development Programme

A description of the extensive education and development offer available to all DSU Network members. This includes a planned series of cutting-edge Action Learning Sets (ALS) aimed at both the technical and leadership development of our analyst community to bring analytics to the heart of the decision making process. We described four ALSs – systems dynamics, quasi-experimental design, machine learning and leadership development that will be available in 20/21. 

Speakers: Professor Mohammed A MohammedLucy Hawkins, Gareth Wrench, Rachel Caswell and Mike Woodall (The Strategy Unit) 

The NHS as an Anchor - sharing experience, shaping decisions

This session invited colleagues from The Health Foundation to explore what it means to be an ‘anchor’ institution and gather examples of local anchor-type initiatives. It discussed how analysis could support anchor working through informing decisions and measuring impact. 

Speakers: Jenna Collins, Mimi Malhotra and Matilda Allen (The Health Foundation) 

Shifting Sands: making sense of an emerging COVID-19 evidence base

In this session, we heard different perspectives on the COVID-19 evidence conundrum along with some ideas for how we might manage some of the challenges. The panel shared different experiences of generating, using or applying COVID-19 evidence and discussed what this meant for how we use evidence to inform decisions. 

Speakers: Alison Turner (The Strategy Unit), Dr Jake Suett (Queen Elizabeth Hospital), Anna Jenkins (NHSE/I) and Hardeep Aiden (The Health Foundation) 

An introduction to decision quality

This session provided an overview of a systematic, practical, approach to enhancing decision quality. The session introduced the concept of decision quality and showed how it could be enhanced. 

Speakers: Professor Mohammed A Mohammed and Lucy Hawkins (The Strategy Unit) 

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