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#28 Decision Superiority: An Air Force Concept Paper

#28 Decision Superiority: An Air Force Concept Paper

Publish Date: November 2008
Author(s): Various
Price: $5.00 (for hard copy) Electronic download only

Chief of Air Force’s policy regarding the concept of ‘decision superiority’ was first enunciated in the 2007 Future Air and Space Operating Concept.

The questions that this paper explores from the perspective of the Air Force are: what decision superiority is, why it is important to us and what Air Force should do, and is doing, about ensuring it. This paper should dispel the myth that making quality decisions is an intrinsic trait of individuals and organisations, or that decision-making skills cannot be taught and practised. Both notions are wrong, with a large body of research to support that contention.

This paper, among other things, presents the following observations:

  • Effecting change in an adversary in practice, be it through physical or non-physical means, is achieved most successfully through the exercise of superior judgement around the context of the conflict, and in making decisions that are timely and designed to deliver more effective outcomes than those of the adversary; that is, by us demonstrating decision superiority through our delivered outcomes in operations, operational support and force and organisational development.
  • Superior decision-making allows a force to seize and retain the initiative, which is a fundamental premise of all successful military action.
  • Adaptivity is the best way to deal with the new, the unexpected and the unknown when dealing with complex problems or situations.
  • Train for certainty, educate for uncertainty.
  • Individuals who enjoy a broad and diverse education combined with a broad experience base appear to be more adaptable and exhibit superior decision-making skills and sounder judgement, and deliver effective outcomes in complex and ambiguous environments.
  • Technical mastery of air force competencies will always form the foundation of professional mastery and Air Force cannot afford to diminish its competencies in these areas.
  • Decision superiority encompasses not only the outcomes of good decision-making, but also the processes, structures and organisational design that facilitate and enable superior decision-making.
  • Air Force must develop strategic thinkers and decision-makers who can operate effectively at the strategic level to ensure that strategic intent is translated into operational outcomes that Air Force can deliver.

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