How to make a good decision in a public sector agency or municipality

Decisions in public sector agencies should solve the challenges with the same methods as for large organizations and follow the same basic process as we have described for small firms. We argue that even goverments and local municipalities should take a structured approach to decision making.

The vast complexity in public governing involving long time frames and many stakeholder groups often result in incremental decisions and muddling through. However, a better process is separate responsibility between domain experts and elected representatives. Domain experts should rate the alternative solutions for the decision criteria. When uncertainty of impact is involved, they should estimate probabilities of events and expected impact. An average of several experts may be necessary. The experts should be as neutral as possible without vested interests.

Avoid making the work too unorganized and difficult
Make the decisions more organized and easier. (AI generated illustration).

Goals and direction
Elected representatives, on the other hand, should only be responsible for assigning weights to the different criteria and thereby goals. Conflicting goals of many stakeholder groups should be taken into account. However, some groups will have priority and higher weights. Weight should reflect the size of different elected parties as in ordinary parlamentaric voting.

A public sector agency or elected decision group is charactized on this page as an organization where a large group make the decisions on behalf of society as a whole. We would like to add that a framework for structuring the decision tasks does not substitute for sound judgement and even intuition for what is right. However, it gives clarity, illuminates the intuition, and provides historic trace and learning. Read more about how can be used as a decision support system.


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