Decision seminar

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The decision seminar technique (Laswell, 1960, described in VanGundy, 1981; 1988)) is a predecessor of the Think Tank technique of the 1960’s and is derived from a more sociological rather brainstorming procedure. It was primarily designed by a social science research facility to tackle applied social policy issues in an efficient way, focusing on past, present and future developments.

A core group of possibly 15 (joined as required by external expert, etc.), worked over an comprehensive period of time from a permanent chart and map room, using a standardised ‘general purpose’ conceptual framework:

Five Intellectual tasks:

  1. Clarifying goals
  2. Describing trends over time
  3. Analysing conditions that affect these trends
  4. Projecting developments – how current policies are likely to turn out
  5. Invention, evaluation and selection of alternatives to achieve desired goals

Seven Broad Information-gathering categories:

  1. Participants
  2. Perspectives
  3. Situations
  4. Base-values (a SWOT-like analysis)
  5. Strategies (how base-value position is used)
  6. Outcomes (of the strategies)
  7. Effects (on participants)

Value Analysis using Eight key values:

  1. Power
  2. Enlightenment
  3. Wealth
  4. Well-being
  5. Skill
  6. Affection
  7. Respect
  8. Rectitude

Seven step Decision process:

  1. Gathering and processing information
  2. Making and promoting recommendations
  3. Developing and prescribing general policy rules
  4. Deciding how to monitor adherence to rules
  5. Applying the rules
  6. Appraising the rules
  7. Terminating the policy

This standardised conceptual framework was supported by a variety of techniques and a strong emphasis on clear record keeping and on the use of visible maps and charts.