The danger with decision-making models (and the Joint Decision Model is no exception) is GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. That is why we recommend the use of this tool to help decision-makers apply critical thinking techniques at each stage of the process – and to be mindful of the biases and heuristics that warp our thinking. We may not always be able to do much about them – but we need at least to understand them, watch for them having excessive impact on our choices and mitigate them whenever possible or necessary, in ourselves and in those around us.

It’s an interesting argument that critical thinking takes us in two specific areas – thinking about how to think (metacognition) and deciding how to decide. This makes it a challenging discipline. Paradoxically, and in crises, it can help with the application of challenging disciplines if we turn them into a process – like the steps in an aide-memoire or by following a mnemonic. We say “paradoxical” because we are at one and the same time identifying the intellectual difficulties and recommending that we deal with them by reduction (or simplification) to process. The balancing act is not to over-simplify or become “process bound”. Keep referring back to what you are trying to achieve.

The “process” in this case is the Framework for Critical Thinking. Its primary use is as a check. It asks the decision-maker to ask herself:

  1. Have we really considered all the possible dimensions of this decision? This is the “cake slices” in the model.
  2. Have we demonstrated the behaviours identified? These are around the outer rim of the model.
  3. Have we examined our thinking for influences? These are in the central circle of the model.