Gary Klein

We have found that people draw on a large set of abilities that are sources of power. The conventional sources of power include deductive logical thinking, analysis of probabilities, and statistical methods. Yet the sources of power that are needed in natural settings are usually not analytical at all – the power of intuition, mental simulation, metaphor, and storytelling. The power of intuition enables us to size up a situation quickly. The power of mental simulation lets us imagine how a course of action might be carried out. The power of metaphor lets us draw on our experience by suggesting parallels between the current situation and something else we have come across. The power of storytelling helps us consolidated our experiences to make them available in the future, either to ourselves or to others. These areas have not been well studied by decision researchers.

6 thoughts on “Gary Klein

  1. shinichi Post author

    If we had started with the one-option hypothesis and only asked questions to elicit data that would support it, we could have been fooling ourselves. People conducting experiments have a certain power over the people being studied. We refer to this as the demand feature of the experiment. If we made it clear that we wanted data to support the on-option hypothesis, some of the people we interviewed might have given us such data.

  2. shinichi Post author

    The Recognition-Primed Decision (RPD) model claims that with experienced decision makers:

    • The first option they consider is usually workable so they do not have to generate a large set of courses of action to make sure of getting a good one.
    • Comparing options is not a goal. They generate and evaluate options one at a time instead of comparing their advantages and disadvantages.
    • Finding a workable course of action is a goal. They are trying to find the first option that works, not the best one.
    • Evaluating an option occurs by imagining how it will be carried out, not through formal analyses and comparisons.
    • Options can be strengthened by imagining the option being carried out, spotting weaknesses, and finding ways to avoid them.
    • The focus is on the way they assess the situation and judge it as familiar, not on choosing between options.
    • The emphasis is on being poised to act quickly, rather than being paralyzed until all the evaluations have been completed.
  3. shinichi Post author


    Anyone who watches the television news has seen images of firefighters rescuing people from burning buildings and paramedics treating bombing victims. How do these individuals make the split-second decisions that save lives? Most studies of decision making, based on artificial tasks assigned in laboratory settings, view people as biased and unskilled. Gary Klein is one of the developers of the naturalistic decision making approach, which views people as inherently skilled and experienced. It documents human strengths and capabilities that so far have been downplayed or ignored.

    Since 1985, Klein has conducted fieldwork to find out how people tackle challenges in difficult, nonroutine situations. Sources of Power is based on observations of humans acting under such real-life constraints as time pressure, high stakes, personal responsibility, and shifting conditions. The professionals studied include firefighters, critical care nurses, pilots, nuclear power plant operators, battle planners, and chess masters. Each chapter builds on key incidents and examples to make the description of the methodology and phenomena more vivid. In addition to providing information that can be used by professionals in management, psychology, engineering, and other fields, the book presents an overview of the research approach of naturalistic decision making and expands our knowledge of the strengths people bring to difficult tasks.

  4. shinichi Post author

    (Mark Wieczorek)

    Traditional decision making models, according to Gary Klein, are built in academia, studied in labs where the circumstances are carefully controlled, and the test subject unfamiliar with the material. Decision making in the real world is something altogether different.

    According to traditional decision making models, first you gather data, then you compile and compare options and decide on a course of action. Studying fire commanders, officers in the military, chess players, and many others in high pressured decision making positions, Klein came to the conclusion that you are more likely to come up with one course of action, run through it mentally to look for flaws. If you don’t find any flaws in your model, you act on it, if you do find flaws, you do come up with another possible course of action, but you never compare two options, weighing the pros and cons of each. You simply don’t have the time or energy.

    Time pressure doesn’t just apply to fire commanders and military leaders. It seems that this model holds up to people working under a deadlines that are weeks or months away as well.

    Klein calls this the “Recognition Primed” decision making model (RPD). In essence, you compare quickly (and often unconsciously) the situation you’re in with a sort of master story of previous situations you’ve been in. You can then recognize features that are analagous to, or different from, these earlier experiences, allowing you to form accurate mental models and intuit courses of action.

    Because of this, experience is extremely important in the decision makin process. If you do not have past experience to draw from, you are more likely to fall back on the traditional decision making models – gathering data and options and weighing them. The more experienced you are, the more clearly you can see a situation for what it is and act quickly. Therefore, training should be geared not towards imparting knowledge, but towards bringing people up to speed and imparting experience. Storytelling as a great way to pass on experience, drills and simulations are also valuable.

    In chapter 13, where most books are winding down and getting repetitive, Klein describes “considerations for communicating intent.” This chapter, entitled The Power to Read Minds, Klein tells us that giving a laundry list of instructions can be detrimental. It is important that we communicate intent. What we want, why we want it, what considerations we took into account in coming to these conclusions, an image of the desired end state, important decision points and possible obstacles along the way. There’s another point or two, but I don’t recall offhand.

    It may seem obvious, but if these things haven’t been clearly communicated, each person will have their own interpretation of their instructions, or even worse, have no understanding of the situation and goals at all and be unable to act if unexpected circumstances should arise. If you clearly communicate intent, people should be able to improvise to get to the end state rather than being stuck trying to figure out your intent based on your instructions. It’s a real time saver too because you don’t have to think of every contingency and plan for it. You simply have to ensure everyone understands your intent.

    This chapter has been especially helpful to me. In the week or so since I’ve read it, I’ve used it to speed up meetings, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and has the same understanding of the situation. I’ve also used it to put together formal proposals, ensuring the client gets what they want.

    In a meeting recently, when I saw that everyone was coming up with ideas that conflicted with each other, I asked the meeting leader (in different words) “what is it you’re trying to accomplish? what is the end state you envision? what obstacles do you see to us getting there?” Things she had surely taken into consideration, but had not communicated clearly to us.

    While everyone else was weighing the options she laid out, stuck on “following instructions,” I proposed something she hadn’t though of. It was in line with her goals and within the constraints we were given, but not one of the options she thought of, and unlike anything we’d done before. Because I understood the situation clearly I was able to think “outside the box” to come up with a solution. She loved my proposal and the focus of the meeting changed immediately to methods for putting my plan into action.

    Reading this lucid and intelligent account of the “Recognition Primed” decision making model lays a good groundwork for decision making, and we all make decisions. It doesn’t try to tell you how to make decisions, it simply describes how they are made. Beyond just decision making, the chapters for communcating intent, and the team mind have been real eye openers as well. Each chapter has something to offer, and while the book builds on itself, once you’ve read it, you can (and will) jump around and re-read chapters or sections that are important to you. A well labelled table of contents and index are included to quickly help you find information.

    I found it highly readable, well put together, and extremely insightful. Though the tools it gives me lay more in the experience of reading it than the information imparted, I find myself quoting this book constantly, or referring back to it. I’m tempted to buy a second copy for my home (I keep my copy on my office bookshelf). I recommend it to everyone who takes an interest in learning about decision making in the real world.

  5. shinichi Post author




    心理学において、直観は問題の有効な解決方法を知り、意思決定を行う能力を含んでいる。例を挙げれば、認識主導意思決定(Recognition Primed Decision、RPD)モデルは、ゲイリー・クレインにより、人間がいかにして、選択肢を比較検討することなしに、迅速な意思決定を下しうるのかということを説明するために導入されたモデルである。ゲイリー・クレインは、時間の制限が厳しく、また判断がもたらす結果の影響が大きい状況においては、専門家は経験を元に過去の同様の状況を短時間に判別し、可能な解決方法を直観で導出することを発見した。より具体的には、RPDモデルは直観と分析を混合した三つのバリエーションからなるモデルである。直観は、パターン照合に基づき状況を認識し、解決方法を素早く導出するために用いられる(RPDモデルのバリエーション1)。それに対し、分析は、二つのケースで利用される。一つは、直観で十分な状況判断ができなかった場合に、新たな特徴を調査し、それを用いてストーリ組み立てて解釈するケースである(RPDモデルのバリエーション2)。また、解決方法を直観的に導出することができなかった場合には、解決手順を心の中で組み立てるメンタル・シミュレーションにおいて分析的な手法が用いられる(RPDモデルのバリエーション3)。




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