Types of Problems and Types of Solutions:
Some Examples with Computer Software*

Problem Type




Resource Allocation

Distributing limited organizational resources (such as time, money, space) to competing goals, objectives, or programs; analyzing priorities and tradeoffs to build consensus.

Budget cut-backs;
Strategic plans;
Research and development plans.

(London School of Economics)


Multiattribute Utility

Evaluating a limited number of discrete options based on multiple criteria or stakeholder perspectives; examining the strengths and weaknesses of options; development of new options and selection of the best choice.

Site selection;
Personnel selection;
Selecting a technical or performance standard.

(London School of Economics)


Logical Decisions
(Logical Decisions)

Judgment Analysis

Establishing explicit policies for situations that require: repeated judgments over time; use of multiple technical or social criteria; specification of policies in advance of actual cases; examination of intuitive judgment-making processes.

Evaluating applications;
Assessing the priority of emergency service requests;
Replicating/ improving expert judgment.

Policy PC
(Executive Decision Services LLC)

System Dynamics

Understanding the long term implications of decision alternatives in situations where change naturally occurs over time and the complexity of change is compunded by secondary effects.

Selecting among policy alternatives by understanding their short-range and long-range consequences;
Designing systems that deliver services over long periods of time.

(Ventana Systems)

Decision Analysis

Choosing a series of actions in situations where the future outcomes, at each step along the way, are uncertain.

Risk assessment;
Tactical planning;
Tradeoff analysis.

Decision Programming Language (DPL)
(Standard & Poor)


Knowledge Structuring

Eliciting, organizing and prioritizing information from groups (generally as an early phase leading to the development of one of the above models).

Nominal group technique;


(Inspiration Software)

 * Adapted from Reagan-Cirincione, P., Schuman, S., Richardson, G. P., and Dorf, S. A. (1991)
Decision modeling: Tools for strategic thinking. Interfaces, 21: 6, November-December, 52-65.