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90 Minutes to Better Decision Making

How to use evidence to make transparent and accountable workplace decisions

Topic: Career Development
Dr Zina O’Leary

Think about an issue or problem which required you to make a decision. How did you come to that decision? Feel free to use something from your personal life i.e.) buying a car or going on a vacation. Or you can think about something work related i.e.) bringing in more staff or taking on a new project.

Jot down each step. Did you use any data? If yes, what types of data did you use? Could have used data but didn’t?

Rarely do we have all the information and evidence we need to make assured decisions. So, what do we do? We go data free. We wing it. We do what’s always been done. We make decisions based on gut. We might even do things for ‘political’ gain. Yet, we know that data is the best support for effective decisions. This requires us to become critical consumers and users of evidence.

In this training learn the steps to go from data free decisions to data based decisions using Existing data, Gathering new data, Rapid assessment, Cost/benefit analysis, and Multicriteria analysis to make decisions or recommend decisions that are robust and evidence-based.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, hands-on, online course, you’ll understand:

  • The ways decisions are made
  • The role of evidence for guiding decision-making

And you’ll be able to:

  • Ask the right questions
  • Quickly gather relevant and credible data
  • Apply data to decision-making

This training course is for you because...

  • You are in a role or aspire to be in a role where you need to make accountable decisions
  • You are in a role or aspire to be in a role that requires you to make transparent decisions
  • You want to become a better decision maker

About your instructor

  • Zina O’Leary is an adjunct senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and an Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) senior fellow. Her area of research expertise is evidence-based decision making and professional skill development. Previously, Zina was the workplace integrated learning coordinator at the University of Sydney Business School. She’s taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a number of universities in Australia, including Sydney University and Melbourne University, and has given talks and run workshops for government clients, including Australia’s Prime Minister and Cabinet and New Zealand Ministers Council, and academic institutions, such as Malaysia School of Medicine and Victoria University of Wellington. She’s the author of seven books, including the recently published Presentations that Motivate. Zina earned her PhD in methodology and social psychology as a US National Science Foundation Fellow and holds an MSc in social psychology and methodology from the University of Wisconsin and a BA in sociology and psychology from Rutgers University.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Workplace decision making (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Making effective workplace decisions
  • Group discussion: Evidence in everyday decision making

Starting a strong decision-making process (20 minutes)

  • Lecture: Good questions drive evidence collection
  • Hands-on exercise: Develop evidence-driven questions

Break (5 minutes)

Getting answers (40 minutes)

  • Lecture: Existing data; gathering new data; rapid assessment; cost-benefit analysis; multicriteria analysis
  • Group activity: The use of and comfort with existing data
  • Hands-on exercise: Work through a multicriteria analysis

Wrap-up and Q&A (10 minutes)