Notes on AFH-1, 1 Nov 21, Chapter 15, Developing Ideas (For Promotion to E-6 Only)




Secton 15A, What We Know

Paragraphs 15.1. - 15.3. - No Changes since last edition

Paragraph 15.4. - The name of the program changed from "Airmen Powered by Innovation (API) Program" to "Guardian and Airmen Innovation Network (GAIN) Program". Changed content highlighted in yellow.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.1. Knowledge is Power

For more than 70 years, Americans have asked Airmen to be the sentinels of air and space for the Nation, delivering unmatched capabilities and support to the Joint Force in defending our homeland, owning the high ground, and projecting power with our allies. In every mission, in every domain, and in every location, Airmen are essential to our Nation's success. America's Air Force, while transforming into a smaller, leaner, and more capable force, continues to fight the war on terrorism and prepares to face new threats and conflicts of the future. To remain dominant, we must maintain our airpower advantages over potential adversaries. We must embrace change and facilitate a culture that embodies courage and innovation.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.1. Knowledge is Power

For more than 70 years, Americans have asked Airmen to be the sentinels of air and space for the Nation, delivering unmatched capabilities and support to the Joint Force in defending our homeland, owning the high ground, and projecting power with our allies. In every mission, in every domain, and in every location, Airmen are essential to our Nation's success. America's Air Force, while transforming into a smaller, leaner, and more capable force, continues to fight the war on terrorism and prepares to face new threats and conflicts of the future. To remain dominant, we must maintain our airpower advantages over potential adversaries. We must embrace change and facilitate a culture that embodies courage and innovation.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.2. Advancing Air Force Priorities

It is our agile and innovative Airmen who power the Air Force. Everything Airmen do should advance or augment Air Force priorities. The priorities, as outlined in Air Force Communication Waypoints, will help ensure our Air Force remains lethal and ready when the Nation calls:

- Restore readiness...to win any fight, any time.
- Cost-effectively modernize...to increase the lethality of the force.
- Drive innovation...to secure our future.
- Develop exceptional leaders...to lead the world's most powerful teams.
- Strengthen our alliances...because we are stronger together.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.2. Advancing Air Force Priorities

It is our agile and innovative Airmen who power the Air Force. Everything Airmen do should advance or augment Air Force priorities. The priorities, as outlined in Air Force Communication Waypoints, will help ensure our Air Force remains lethal and ready when the Nation calls:

- Restore readiness...to win any fight, any time.
- Cost-effectively modernize...to increase the lethality of the force.
- Drive innovation...to secure our future.
- Develop exceptional leaders...to lead the world's most powerful teams.
- Strengthen our alliances...because we are stronger together.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.3. Chief of Staff, United States Air Force Professional Reading Program

In 1996, General Fogleman created the Chief of Staff, USAF Professional Reading Program to develop a common frame of reference among Air Force members -officers, enlisted, and civilians -to help each become better, more effective advocates of airpower. The Chief of Staff, USAF Professional Reading Program can help launch a career-long reading habit or supplement previous reading materials. Topics, although the majority detail airpower from its genesis to recent times, include insight into Air Force history, analysis of ongoing conflicts and their relevancy to the future, organizational and leadership success stories, and lessons learned from recent conflicts. These sources provide great examples of leadership to illustrate qualities Airmen should emulate.

The reading list is particularly relevant as civilian men and women take on more responsibility in these times of global terrorism and international conflict. Each Chief of Staff of the Air Force has subsequently enhanced and continued the program with current and relevant material for the force. The program currently includes books, films, documentaries, briefings, presentations, publications, journals, and other online resources. The professional reading list and a brief summary of new selections can be found on the Air Force Portal and at: http://www.af.mil/library/csafreading/index.asp.

2019 Air Force Handbook

14.4. Chief of Staff, United States Air Force Professional Reading Program

In 1996, General Fogleman created the Chief of Staff, USAF Professional Reading Program to develop a common frame of reference among Air Force members -officers, enlisted, and civilians -to help each become better, more effective advocates of airpower. The Chief of Staff, USAF Professional Reading Program can help launch a career-long reading habit or supplement previous reading materials. Topics, although the majority detail airpower from its genesis to recent times, include insight into Air Force history, analysis of ongoing conflicts and their relevancy to the future, organizational and leadership success stories, and lessons learned from recent conflicts. These sources provide great examples of leadership to illustrate qualities Airmen should emulate.

The reading list is particularly relevant as civilian men and women take on more responsibility in these times of global terrorism and international conflict. Each Chief of Staff of the Air Force has subsequently enhanced and continued the program with current and relevant material for the force. The program currently includes books, films, documentaries, briefings, presentations, publications, journals, and other online resources. The professional reading list and a brief summary of new selections can be found on the Air Force Portal and at: http://www.af.mil/library/csafreading/index.asp.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.4. Guardian and Airmen Innovation Network

Guardian and Airmen Innovation Network (GAIN) Program is the Department of the Air Force enterprise-wide innovation program that solicits suggestions and ideas from Airmen which contribute to the effectiveness, efficiency, enterprise replication, cost savings/avoidance, and other improvement of operations or programs related to the Air and Space Forces.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.5. Airmen Powered by Innovation

The Airmen Powered by Innovation (API) Program is the Air Force enterprise-wide innovation program that solicits suggestions and ideas from Airmen which contribute to the effectiveness, efficiency, enterprise replication, cost savings/avoidance, and other improvement of operations or programs related to the Air Force. The program connects Airmen to Air Force senior leaders and provides monetary awards for approved ideas. The API program combined three legacy improvement programs: innovative development through employee awareness, productivity enhancing capital investment, and best practices. The success of money and time-saving innovations are critical to the Air Force's ability to operate in this fiscally constrained environment. API is the foundation for empowering Airmen to "make every dollar count" and is intended to be an engine for innovation across the Air Force. For more detailed information, refer to AFI 38-402, Airmen Powered by Innovation and Suggestion Program.




Section 15B, Cognitive Processes

Paragraph 15.5., Cognitive Bias, was edited and some content was removed.

Paragraphs 15.6. - 15.8. had no changes.

Paragraph 15.9., Influence of Dissenting Airmen, is new content.

Paragraphs 15.10. - 15.14. had no changes

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.5. Cognitive Bias

In thinking about problems or challenges, we are influenced by a number of factors that shape how we interpret information, weigh its relevance, and ultimately decide upon a course of action or inaction as the situation dictates. Cognitive biases are common ways of thinking that can cause individuals to make irrational decisions in some circumstances.

Cognitive bias in our decision process results in several 'traps' decision-makers need to guard against. Some common types of cognitive bias are briefly described here.

- Overconfidence bias. Humans are overconfident in their own judgments, often unreasonably so.

- Sunk-cost effect. The sunk-cost effect is the tendency to escalate commitment to a course of action where there has already been a substantial investment or resources in time, money, or personnel, despite poor performance.

- Availability bias. Availability bias is the tendency to place too much emphasis on the most immediate examples to come to mind (e.g., vivid, unusual, or emotionally charged examples).

- Confirmation bias. Confirmation bias, the most prevalent bias. It refers to our tendency to gather and use information that confirms our existing views while downplaying or avoiding information that challenges our working hypothesis.

- Anchoring bias. Anchoring bias is the unconscious tendency to allow an extreme reference point to distort our estimates, even when that initial reference point is completely arbitrary. In a negotiation, this bias can work in favor of the side that stakes out the initial reference point -both sides tend to use the initial position as a reference point for the solution.

- Illusory bias. Illusory bias is the tendency to jump to conclusions about the relationship between two variables when in fact no relationship (correlation) exists.

- Hindsight bias. Hindsight bias is the tendency to judge past events as easily predictable when in fact they were not easily foreseen. This bias limits our ability to learn from past mistakes and may affect how leaders evaluate subordinate decision-making.

- Egocentrism. Egocentrism is when we attribute more credit to ourselves for group or collaborative outcome than an outside party that made significant contributions to the end result.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.6. Cognitive Bias

In thinking about problems or challenges, we are influenced by a number of factors that shape how we interpret information, weigh its relevance, and ultimately decide upon a course of action or inaction as the situation dictates. Cognitive bias is a person's perspective of a situation or environment that causes them to make decisions based on those perceptions rather than solely on facts and circumstances. Although perceptions are valuable aspects of understanding certain situations and contexts, they must not be allowed to interfere with the actual facts or circumstances being addressed.

Psychologists use the term bounded rationality to describe the actual operating state of the human mind. What this means is we may not be as comprehensive in our gathering and analysis of information as many decision-making models assume. Instead of being truly rational and making the best possible decisions, we may inadvertently allow some barriers to affect the way we make decisions. Cognitive bias in our decision process results in several 'traps' decision-makers need to guard against. Some common types of cognitive bias are briefly described here.

- Overconfidence bias. Humans are overconfident in their own judgments, often unreasonably so.

- Sunk-cost effect. The sunk-cost effect is the tendency to escalate commitment to a course of action where there has already been a substantial investment or resources in time, money, or personnel, despite poor performance.

- Availability bias. Availability bias is the tendency to place too much emphasis on information we have available instead of the information we need during decision-making.

- Confirmation bias. Confirmation bias, the most prevalent bias. It refers to our tendency to gather and use information that confirms our existing views while downplaying or avoiding information that challenges our working hypothesis.

- Anchoring bias. Anchoring bias is the unconscious tendency to allow an extreme reference point to distort our estimates, even when that initial reference point is completely arbitrary. In a negotiation, this bias can work in favor of the side that stakes out the initial reference point -both sides tend to use the initial position as a reference point for the solution.

- Illusory bias. Illusory bias is the tendency to jump to conclusions about the relationship between two variables when in fact no relationship (correlation) exists.

- Hindsight bias. Hindsight bias is the tendency to judge past events as easily predictable when in fact they were not easily foreseen. This bias limits our ability to learn from past mistakes and may affect how leaders evaluate subordinate decision-making.

- Egocentrism. Egocentrism is when we attribute more credit to ourselves for group or collaborative outcome than an outside party that made significant contributions to the end result.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.6. Mental Frames

Each of us uses mental frameworks and shortcuts to simplify our understanding of a complex world. The use of frameworks helps us process information quickly and efficiently. Frames consist of our assumptions about how things are related and how they work. This effect is particularly noticeable when framing a challenge as either a risk or an opportunity. Research shows that the human mind naturally estimates the expected return associated with a risky situation. Leaders of any organization or decision-making team must be careful about imposing mental frames on themselves and their teams where critical thinking is needed.

Prospect Theory. Prospect theory is commonly recognized as the act of framing a situation as a potential gain that causes decision-makers to act differently than when framing the same situation as a potential loss. Prospect theory helps explain our tendency to escalate commitment based on sunk costs instead of making rational evaluations. Based on sunk cost arguments, leaders often take on more risk, committing additional resources to avoid losses even when the chances of success are low. Gamblers placing bets even when they are experiencing a losing streak is an example of prospect theory in that the 'chances' of winning seem greater with each chance taken.

Change. Another implication of framing is how organizations react when faced with changes in the operating environment or mission tasking. At the organizational level, threats to our comfortable framework of assumptions are often met with rigid resistance, while changes we see as opportunities are met with flexibility and adaptability. As human beings, Airmen are subject to the initial frameworks we establish when confronting change. For good or bad, these frameworks act to limit the information we take in, our willingness to fairly and unbiasedly assess information, and ultimately restrict the solution sets we create. Consciously avoid an inherent tendency to view change as threatening. Intentionally framing change as an opportunity may allow others to freely exercise the habits of mind necessary to make well informed decisions.

Analogies. Analogies are often powerful decision-making tools. Great innovative breakthroughs can sometimes occur when analogies from one field or domain are applied to another. Reasoning by analogy occurs when we assess a situation and match it to similar experiences we have previously encountered. At the conscious level, analogies can be used to save time and provide clues about courses of action and implications for a decision-making process. However, without deliberate consideration, analogies may lead us to focus on similarities between events and downplay important differences. When allowing analogy in decision-making, effort should be made to clearly separate fact from assumption. The act of questioning assumptions in any decision-making process is, at its heart, how we apply the habits of mind necessary for good critical thought.

Intuition. Intuition can complement a decision-maker when used in conjunction with the evaluation of a whole series of alternatives and not solely based on objective analysis. A strength of using intuition is that it is based on matching patterns from previous experiences to cues picked up in the current environment. Based on recognition of patterns, decision-makers may select a course of action as if reading a script instead of truly exploring options. Having decided on an initial preferred course of action, senior leaders often mentally play out a solution, and if it seems feasible, they go with it.

Note: Proper use of combined intuitive judgment along with formal analysis may be an effective decision-making technique. Formal analysis can check intuition, while intuition is useful in validating and testing assumptions that underlie analysis. As Airmen, recognizing the value of intuition is just as critical as guarding against a lack of analysis in the decision-making process.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.7. Mental Frames

Each of us uses mental frameworks and shortcuts to simplify our understanding of a complex world. The use of frameworks helps us process information quickly and efficiently. Frames consist of our assumptions about how things are related and how they work. This effect is particularly noticeable when framing a challenge as either a risk or an opportunity. Research shows that the human mind naturally estimates the expected return associated with a risky situation. Leaders of any organization or decision-making team must be careful about imposing mental frames on themselves and their teams where critical thinking is needed.

Prospect Theory. Prospect theory is commonly recognized as the act of framing a situation as a potential gain that causes decision-makers to act differently than when framing the same situation as a potential loss. Prospect theory helps explain our tendency to escalate commitment based on sunk costs instead of making rational evaluations. Based on sunk cost arguments, leaders often take on more risk, committing additional resources to avoid losses even when the chances of success are low. Gamblers placing bets even when they are experiencing a losing streak is an example of prospect theory in that the 'chances' of winning seem greater with each chance taken.

Change. Another implication of framing is how organizations react when faced with changes in the operating environment or mission tasking. At the organizational level, threats to our comfortable framework of assumptions are often met with rigid resistance, while changes we see as opportunities are met with flexibility and adaptability. As human beings, Airmen are subject to the initial frameworks we establish when confronting change. For good or bad, these frameworks act to limit the information we take in, our willingness to fairly and unbiasedly assess information, and ultimately restrict the solution sets we create. Consciously avoiding an inherent tendency to view change as threatening. Intentionally framing change as an opportunity may allow others to freely exercise the habits of mind necessary to make well informed decisions.

Analogies. Analogies are often powerful decision-making tools. Great innovative breakthroughs can sometimes occur when analogies from one field or domain are applied to another. Reasoning by analogy occurs when we assess a situation and match it to similar experiences we have previously encountered. At the conscious level, analogies can be used to save time and provide clues about courses of action and implications for a decision-making process. However, without deliberate consideration, analogies may lead us to focus on similarities between events and downplay important differences. When allowing analogy in decision-making, effort should be made to clearly separate fact from assumption. The act of questioning assumptions in any decision-making process is, at its heart, how we apply the habits of mind necessary for good critical thought.

Intuition. Intuition can complement a decision-maker when used in conjunction with the evaluation of a whole series of alternatives and not solely based on objective analysis. A strength of using intuition is that it is based on matching patterns from previous experiences to cues picked up in the current environment. Based on recognition of patterns, decision-makers may select a course of action as if reading a script instead of truly exploring options. Having decided on an initial preferred course of action, senior leaders often mentally play out a solution, and if it seems feasible, they go with it.

Note: Proper use of combined intuitive judgment along with formal analysis may be an effective decision-making technique. Formal analysis can check intuition, while intuition is useful in validating and testing assumptions that underlie analysis. As Airmen, recognizing the value of intuition is just as critical as guarding against a lack of analysis in the decision-making process.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.7. Critical Thinking in Groups

Conventional wisdom holds that groups make better decisions than individuals because they draw from a diverse base of talent and experience. However, Airmen must be conscious of how group decisions are made and create teams capable of applying critical thought to problems in group settings. Airmen engaged in group decision-making must consciously structure the process to encourage critical thinking to prevent momentum from simply leading the group toward conformity. There are a few things to consider when using groups for decision-making.

- Who should be involved in the decision process?
- In what sort of environment should the decision take place?
- How will the participants communicate?
- How will the leader control the decision process?

Wisdom of Groups. While keeping in mind that groupthink does exist, consider establishing groups for decision-making diverse, made up of members that represent many different disciplines, perspectives, and areas of expertise. Have the group discussions in a decentralized location, be able to effectively aggregate all the individual judgments, and seek group members who are independent, meaning not subordinate to one another.

Hindrances to Groups. Behaviors that are contradictory to working in groups, such as withholding information for personal reasons or filtering information to accommodate a personal bias, should not be tolerated. Another behavior that should not be allowed is selectively presenting information up the chain of command to inadvertently affect the group's efforts. In addition to this, leaders who are in positions to make decisions based on the recommendations of a group should be aware of how the group was set-up and how well it operated to have an understanding of what the decision was, as well as the dynamics of how the decision was made.

Decision-Making Teams. When creating or observing qualities of good teams, look for individuals who are able to sway others in the crowd. Seek out and encourage individuals who are able to contribute and speak up when in a group dynamic. Group members who demonstrate independence and the ability to overcome hierarchical stigmas will often prove to be strong team members. Another quality for group members is one that encourages honest, candid analysis and contributions from others, even when not in complete alignment with their own. The most successful groups will consist of a good balance of individuals who do not dominate discussions, but also do not constantly remain in the background.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.8. Critical Thinking in Groups

Conventional wisdom holds that groups make better decisions than individuals because they draw from a diverse base of talent and experience. However, Airmen must be conscious of how group decisions are made and create teams capable of applying critical thought to problems in group settings. Airmen engaged in group decision-making must consciously structure the process to encourage critical thinking to prevent momentum from simply leading the group toward conformity. There are a few things to consider when using groups for decision-making.

- Who should be involved in the decision process?
- In what sort of environment should the decision take place?
- How will the participants communicate?
- How will the leader control the decision process?

Wisdom of Groups. While keeping in mind that group think does exist, consider establishing groups for decision-making diverse, made up of members that represent many different disciplines, perspectives, and areas of expertise. Have the group discussions in a decentralized location, be able to effectively aggregate all the individual judgments, and seek group members who are independent, meaning not subordinate to one another.

Hindrances to Groups. Behaviors that are contradictory to working in groups, such as withholding information for personal reasons or filtering information to accommodate a personal bias, should not be tolerated. Another behavior that should not be allowed is selectively presenting information up the chain of command to inadvertently affect the group's efforts. In addition to this, leaders who are in positions to make decisions based on the recommendations of a group should be aware of how the group was set-up and how well it operated to have an understanding of what the decision was, as well as the dynamics of how the decision was made.

Decision-Making Teams. When creating or observing qualities of good teams, look for individuals who are able to sway others in the crowd. Seek out and encourage individuals who are able to contribute and speak up when in a group dynamic. Group members who demonstrate independence and the ability to overcome hierarchical stigmas will often prove to be strong team members. Another quality for group members is one that encourages honest, candid analysis and contributions from others, even when not in complete alignment with their own. The most successful groups will consist of a good balance of individuals who do not dominate discussions, but also do not constantly remain in the background.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.8. Groupthink

Groupthink is a common decision trap and one of the major causes of flawed decision-making in groups. Groupthink occurs when tremendous pressures within the team demand conformity and express a strong desire for unanimity at the expense of true critical thinking. Causes of groupthink can stem from strong personalities or influences that overpower or hinder others from being equal contributors to the group, or they can stem from individuals choosing not to speak up in a group so they may be allowed to participate without taking risks or exposing themselves to adverse opinions from others in the group. Whatever the reason for groupthink, it puts the entire group at a disadvantage and should be addressed quickly to get the group back on track toward achieving its purpose for convening.

Symptoms of Groupthink. To prevent groupthink, Airmen must be aware of the symptoms. Common indicators of groupthink include: the group demonstrating a feeling of being invulnerable or egocentric, there is a tendency to rationalize away disconfirming data and warning signs of ineffective judgment or critical thinking, the group concludes topics with a feeling of unanimity regarding particular views, individuals are pressured when they present dissenting views, and group members regress in their desire or ability to contribute to the group.

Reducing Groupthink. If groupthink is present, outside consultation may be required to get the group on the right track. In other cases, Airmen can work to minimize structural barriers to candid dialogue and reduce groupthink tendencies within their organization. Some ways to reduce groupthink include: defining roles within decision-making teams by giving responsibility to members for aspects of the analysis process and holding them accountable for representing these perspectives within the group, reducing homogeneity of team composition to bring in diverse or alternative perspectives, reducing status difference and rating chain conflicts between team members that might hinder candid dialogue, and inviting healthy disagreement during the analysis process to encourage candid dialogue.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.9. Groupthink

Groupthink is a common decision trap and one of the major causes of flawed decision-making in groups. Groupthink occurs when tremendous pressures within the team demand conformity and express a strong desire for unanimity at the expense of true critical thinking. Causes of groupthink can stem from strong personalities or influences that overpower or hinder others from being equal contributors to the group, or they can stem from individuals choosing not to speak up in a group so they may be allowed to participate without taking risks or exposing themselves to adverse opinions from others in the group. Whatever the reason for groupthink, it puts the entire group at a disadvantage and should be addressed quickly to get the group back on track toward achieving its purpose for convening.

Symptoms of Groupthink. To prevent groupthink, Airmen must be aware of the symptoms. Common indicators of groupthink include: the group demonstrating a feeling of being invulnerable or egocentric, there is a tendency to rationalize away disconfirming data and warning signs of ineffective judgment or critical thinking, the group concludes topics with a feeling of unanimity regarding particular views, individuals are pressured when they present dissenting views, and group members regress in their desire or ability to contribute to the group.

Reducing Groupthink. If groupthink is present, outside consultation may be required to get the group on the right track. In other cases, Airmen can work to minimize structural barriers to candid dialogue and reduce groupthink tendencies within their organization. Some ways to reduce groupthink include: defining roles within decision-making teams by giving responsibility to members for aspects of the analysis process and holding them accountable for representing these perspectives within the group, reducing homogeneity of team composition to bring in diverse or alternative perspectives, reducing status difference and rating chain conflicts between team members that might hinder candid dialogue, and inviting healthy disagreement during the analysis process to encourage candid dialogue.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.9. Influence of Dissenting Airmen

What should you do if you are part of a group and you are concerned the group will make a bad decision? It may seem obvious, but it is important that you speak up during the group's discussions.

Groups tend to make better decisions when exposed to an opposing view because group members become more likely to see the situation from different angles, and reexamine premises.

When making yes/no decisions (e.g., guilty/not-guilty verdict on a jury), groups typically make decisions that the majority of group members would have recommended if asked independently and anonymously. For example, 85% of the time the majority position on a jury's first ballot will end up being the group's final decision.

However, in most decision-making contexts, there are many possible alternatives, and even a single opposing view can encourage groups to consider a broader range of possible options. For example, imagine only two civilian candidates applied for a job. The question posed to the group may have originally been framed as "Should we hire Candidate A or Candidate B?" While it may seem like there are only two options (you support Candidate B, while others support Candidate A), there are probably other alternatives. For example, could the position be re-advertised to encourage more people to apply? Could one of the candidates be detailed to the position so the group can re-evaluate based on initial performance before making a final decision? Could the position be filled by a military member rather than a civilian?

Even a single opposing view can foster divergent thinking (generation of a range of possible alternatives). So even if a group does not ultimately adopt your specific position (i.e., hire Candidate B), group members will be more likely to think of other possible alternatives that they may not have otherwise considered or shared. As a result, good group decisions become more likely.

2019 Air Force Handbook

Not in 2019 AFH-1

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.10. Critical Judgment

Professor Andrew J. DuBrin, Doctor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, stated that a high performance team demands sincere and tactful criticism among members. In the Air Force, it is imperative that feedback is welcomed and encouraged among team members, as well as from a broad spectrum of sources. Receiving information is a way of giving consideration to new, different, and often better ways of performing. The willingness to accept and show appreciation for constructive criticism increases self-awareness and improves team effectiveness. By encouraging and considering critical feedback, teams can redirect focus and energy to correct problems quickly rather than allowing them to intensify. For feedback or criticism to be productive, the collective purpose for the feedback must be for all parties involved to ultimately have the same expected outcome -to improve a process or procedure that positively contributes to the mission.

Note: Despite the possibility that feedback can be negative, it can positively contribute to the mission if it is delivered without being shrouded in bias, hidden agendas, or unhealthy competition. Honesty is important; however, brutal honesty can be offensive. Giving constructive criticism requires a focus on fixing or improving upon a problem, not focusing on problems for personal or oppositional gain.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.10. Critical Judgment

Professor Andrew J. DuBrin, Doctor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, stated that a high performance team demands sincere and tactful criticism among members. In the Air Force, it is imperative that feedback is welcomed and encouraged among team members, as well as from a broad spectrum of sources. Receiving information is a way of giving consideration to new, different, and often better ways of performing. The willingness to accept and show appreciation for constructive criticism increases self-awareness and improves team effectiveness. By encouraging and considering critical feedback, teams can redirect focus and energy to correct problems quickly rather than allowing them to intensify. For feedback or criticism to be productive, the collective purpose for the feedback must be for all parties involved to ultimately have the same expected outcome -to improve a process or procedure that positively contributes to the mission.

Note: Despite the possibility that feedback can be negative, it can positively contribute to the mission if it is delivered without being shrouded in bias, hidden agendas, or unhealthy competition. Honesty is important; however, brutal honesty can be offensive. Giving constructive criticism requires a focus on fixing or improving upon a problem, not focusing on problems for personal or oppositional gain.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.11. Addressing Conflict Positively

Disagreement between participants in any decision-making process is necessary to stimulate inquiry and analysis. The challenge for leaders is to create constructive conflict while retaining the teamwork and relationships necessary for future decision events. In the decision-making process, debate focused on the issues and ideas at hand (cognitive conflict) is constructive. On the other hand, emotional and personal outbursts (affective conflict) are not. A key aspect of managing the decision process is to stimulate cognitive conflict to advocate positions and analysis-debating concepts, but not attacking the person representing them. Airmen in leadership positions should clearly establish ground rules for interaction during deliberations and require participants to respect each other's cognitive and analytical styles.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.11. Addressing Conflict Positively

Disagreement between participants in any decision-making process is necessary to stimulate inquiry and analysis. The challenge for leaders is to create constructive conflict while retaining the teamwork and relationships necessary for future decision events. In the decision-making process, debate focused on the issues and ideas at hand (cognitive conflict) is constructive. On the other hand, emotional and personal outbursts (affective conflict) are not. A key aspect of managing the decision process is to stimulate cognitive conflict to advocate positions and analysis-debating concepts, but not attacking the person representing them. Airmen in leadership positions should clearly establish ground rules for interaction during deliberations and require participants to respect each other's cognitive and analytical styles.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.12. Indecision

Indecision is not solely a problem with leaders, organizational cultures, or complex topics. Indecision often occurs as a result of combinations of all three. The aspect of organizational cultures can be addressed by recognizing patterns of behavior that manifest dysfunction within the decision-making process. Three harmful organizational cultures are briefly described here.

The Culture of No. Organizations with a culture of no have established a decision-making process where lone dissenters are able to issue non-concurs within the planning process, effectively blocking overall organizational goals because they conflict with internal sub-organizational interests. This culture can arise in organizations where meetings focus on dissections of proposals instead of true debate and analysis. Leaders who reward subordinates based on their ability to dissect other's ideas without providing alternative courses of action enable and promote a culture of no. In a culture of no, dissenters tear down or block proposals and ideas rather than critique a proposal with the intent of strengthening it.

The Culture of Yes. Organizations with a culture of yes have established an environment where dissenters tend to stay silent. This silence becomes a tacit endorsement of the proposal without the benefit of analysis and debate. In this form of organizational culture, once a decision is made, subordinates later express disagreement to distance themselves from a decision or to undermine the implementation of the plan. Airmen operating in this type of culture must understand that silence does not mean assent, and watch for those not contributing to the discussion. Overcoming this cultural tendency requires leaders to bring constructive conflict within the decision process to the surface and analyze concerns and alternative interpretations of evidence.

The Culture of Maybe. Under the culture of maybe, decision-makers work to gather as much information as possible, which often results in 'analysis paralysis'. Under analysis paralysis, decision-makers constantly delay action because they think more information and analysis will clarify their choice. This culture tends to develop in organizations facing highly ambiguous situations or in organizations where competing sections/leaders practice conflict avoidance as opposed to open analysis and debate. In these organizations, decision-makers must balance the benefit of gaining more information against the diminishing returns they provide, as opposed to initiating action. While leaders are seldom able to accurately calculate the cost versus benefit of waiting for additional clarity, intuitive judgment serves as a cut-off for unnecessary delay.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.12. Indecision

Indecision is not solely a problem with leaders, organizational cultures, or complex topics. Indecision often occurs as a result of combinations of all three. The aspect of organizational cultures can be addressed by recognizing patterns of behavior that manifest dysfunction within the decision-making process. Three harmful organizational cultures are briefly described here.

The Culture of No. Organizations with a culture of no have established a decision-making process where lone dissenters are able to issue non-concurs within the planning process, effectively blocking overall organizational goals because they conflict with internal sub-organizational interests. This culture can arise in organizations where meetings focus on dissections of proposals instead of true debate and analysis. Leaders who reward subordinates based on their ability to dissect other's ideas without providing alternative courses of action enable and promote a culture of no. In a culture of no, dissenters tear down or block proposals and ideas rather than critique a proposal with the intent of strengthening it.

The Culture of Yes. Organizations with a culture of yes have established an environment where dissenters tend to stay silent. This silence becomes a tacit endorsement of the proposal without the benefit of analysis and debate. In this form of organizational culture, once a decision is made, subordinates later express disagreement to distance themselves from a decision or to undermine the implementation of the plan. Airmen operating in this type of culture must understand that silence does not mean assent, and watch for those not contributing to the discussion. Overcoming this cultural tendency requires leaders to bring constructive conflict within the decision process to the surface and analyze concerns and alternative interpretations of evidence.

The Culture of Maybe. Under the culture of maybe, decision-makers work to gather as much information as possible, which often results in 'analysis paralysis'. Under analysis paralysis, decision-makers constantly delay action because they think more information and analysis will clarify their choice. This culture tends to develop in organizations facing highly ambiguous situations or in organizations where competing sections/leaders practice conflict avoidance as opposed to open analysis and debate. In these organizations, decision-makers must balance the benefit of gaining more information against the diminishing returns they provide, as opposed to initiating action. While leaders are seldom able to accurately calculate the cost versus benefit of waiting for additional clarity, intuitive judgment serves as a cut-off for unnecessary delay.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.13. Decision-Making Outcomes

Procedural Justice. The process by which a decision is made significantly influences implementation and follow-through of the solution. The key aspect to the outcome of a critical decision is consensus among the team responsible for enactment. In many cases, consensus does not mean unanimity; consensus is a commitment to, and shared understanding of, the desired outcome.

Procedural Fairness. Airmen must work to make sure a decision process is fair and legitimate. Even when participants agree with the chosen course of action, if they do not see the process as legitimate, they are often disenchanted with the outcome. Procedural fairness provides support to decision-makers, especially when they are making unpopular decisions. Fair processes help build consensus, but more importantly, aid in implementation because participants feel that all perspectives have been considered and analyzed. If decision-makers are subjective in their analysis, participants lose faith in the decision process, making it difficult to support the outcome. Providing participants with time and venues to express their positions and a transparent system of weighing different perspectives is important. When final decisions are made, the fairness of the process is what allows Airmen to rally around the designated way ahead with confidence that the decision-maker considered all aspects before finalizing which course of action to pursue.

Note: From an application standpoint, some leaders seek consensus as a means of empowering their people; however, the adage that "a camel is a horse built by consensus" is not so farfetched. Great leaders do not seek consensus -they build it.

Procedural Legitimacy. Procedural legitimacy in decision-making occurs when the decision process is perceived to be in line with an organization's socially accepted norms and desired behaviors. To create an organizational culture of decision legitimacy, leaders should provide a process roadmap at the beginning of the decision process, reinforce and demonstrate an open mindset, engage in and encourage active listening, separate advocacy from analysis, explain the decision rationale once made, express appreciation for everyone's participation, and express how alternative inputs contributed to the process.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.13. Decision-Making Outcomes

Procedural Justice. The process by which a decision is made significantly influences implementation and follow-through of the solution. The key aspect to the outcome of a critical decision is consensus among the team responsible for enactment. In many cases, consensus does not mean unanimity; consensus is a commitment to, and shared understanding of, the desired outcome.

Procedural Fairness. Airmen must work to make sure a decision process is fair and legitimate. Even when participants agree with the chosen course of action, if they do not see the process as legitimate, they are often disenchanted with the outcome. Procedural fairness provides support to decision-makers, especially when they are making unpopular decisions. Fair processes help build consensus, but more importantly, aid in implementation because participants feel that all perspectives have been considered and analyzed. If decision-makers are subjective in their analysis, participants lose faith in the decision process, making it difficult to support the outcome. Providing participants with time and venues to express their positions and a transparent system of weighing different perspectives is important. When final decisions are made, the fairness of the process is what allows Airmen to rally around the designated way ahead with confidence that the decision-maker considered all aspects before finalizing which course of action to pursue.

Note: From an application standpoint, some leaders seek consensus as a means of empowering their people; however, the adage that "a camel is a horse built by consensus" is not so farfetched. Great leaders do not seek consensus -they build it.

Procedural Legitimacy. Procedural legitimacy in decision-making occurs when the decision process is perceived to be in line with an organization's socially accepted norms and desired behaviors. To create an organizational culture of decision legitimacy, leaders should provide a process roadmap at the beginning of the decision process, reinforce and demonstrate an open mindset, engage in and encourage active listening, separate advocacy from analysis, explain the decision rationale once made, express appreciation for everyone's participation, and express how alternative inputs contributed to the process.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.14. Accidents, Deviance, and Consequences

Within the Air Force, like any other organization, decisions made in highly complex, tightly integrated environments may have unanticipated consequences. If Airmen are unaware of, or have failed to think through decisions, catastrophic failure can result. With the understanding of the role all Airmen play in using the habits of mind for critical thinking, the following sections examine perspectives on decision-making failure.

Normal Accident Theory - Structural Perspective. The normal accident theory rests upon the assumption that in any highly complex high-risk organizational structure, decision failures are unavoidable. High-risk systems are systems classified by their complexity and the coupling of multiple processes occurring in conjunction with one another. Systems that are interactively complex and tightly coupled are particularly vulnerable to catastrophic failure stemming from mistakes made by decision-makers, often small mistakes, which go unrecognized or uncorrected.

In coupled (interdependent) systems, tight interactions based on poor decisions can magnify normal accidents into system-wide failure. In simple linear processes, such as an assembly line, failure has a visible impact on the next process, but is identifiable and limited. When interactions are nonlinear and affect a variety of other systems, the failure of one component has unanticipated effects on many subsystems. If the subsystems are tightly coupled (highly interdependent) a failure quickly causes changes in multiple systems nearly simultaneously, making it hard for leaders to diagnose the symptoms and determine the extent of the failure. Because Airmen project power globally, anticipation of the impact from even minor deviations from procedure or instruction, is extremely challenging.

Normalized Deviance Theory - Behavioral Perspective. The normalized deviance theory is the gradual acceptance of unexpected events and risks as a normal behavior in the operating environment, including the acceptance of lower standards. This practice of producing shortcuts or variations to normal procedures eventually becomes normalized to the point where the deviance is no longer noticed. Deviations become accepted as new norms and are no longer assessed using the habits of mind necessary to identify causes and find solutions. As organizational members become accustomed to the reoccurrence of seemingly minor but unpredicted anomalies, they become less concerned with the potential catastrophic effects of more severe failures of the same system.

A classic case of normalized deviance is the example of the Challenger space shuttle disaster. In this case, the erosion of O-rings was not within acceptable tolerances. However, after its occurrence, several times with no catastrophic result, the members of the organization accepted their erosion as a normal and acceptable event, despite deviation from their engineering standards. In this case National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as an organization, was working hard to make space flight feel routine. The organization's culture, combined with cognitive bias and external pressures, led to the normalization of a potentially catastrophic failure.

Airmen must be aware of the type of organization they operate within and understand its complex interactions. We should guard against substandard procedures by continuously questioning the way we do business, consciously identifying the "close-calls" and deviances from normal operations, and ensuring deviations from standards are analyzed as part of the decision-making process to gain an understanding of how to improve programs and implement new decisions.

Practical Drift. Within large organizations, sub-unit leaders at all levels make decisions to maximize efficiency. They establish localized rules and procedures that comply with the overall intent of the organization. Over time, these procedures become accepted practice. Similar to normalizing deviance, this practice causes organizational norms to drift. Often, this drift is unproblematic; however, under ambiguous conditions in complex interactive environments, divergence may lead to altered expectations and poor information flow (resulting in catastrophic cross-system failure).

Airmen must be aware of how their decisions at the local level tie in with overall organizational goals, standards, and expectations. Leaders must use their awareness of organizational goals and standards to monitor practical drift in their areas of responsibility, recognize disciplined initiative, and maintain standards consistent with outside expectations. Airmen in positions of responsibility must work to temper practical drift and create a culture where critical thinking is applied to ambiguous threats. This goal can be accomplished by developing processes for identifying and analyzing small problems and failures, and treating them as potential indicators of larger problems. Effective techniques include empowerment of front line workers and flattening hierarchies to reduce information filtering. Leaders can further minimize the problems associated with practical drift, by:

- Creating and encouraging transparency in organizational structures and systems to identify local practical drift and understanding the "why" behind local standards.

- Avoiding 'Band-Aid' approaches to small problems by fixing the root cause across the system, as well as creating a climate of candid dialogue to review and revisit standards and seek problems.

- Monitoring seams where information is handed off between units and organizations.

- Conducting careful after-action reviews focused on process improvement.

Ambiguity. The challenge for Airmen of all ranks is that ambiguous threats do not trigger organizational responses. The failure to apply critical thinking to ambiguous threats means the recovery window between the emergence of the threat and its occurrence as a catastrophic failure may narrow. Airmen at all levels must be aware that ambiguous threats may go unaddressed due to information filters caused by structural complexity and inter-organizational power dynamics.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.14. Accidents, Deviance, and Consequences

Within the Air Force, like any other organization, decisions made in highly complex, tightly integrated environments may have unanticipated consequences. If Airmen are unaware of, or have failed to think through decisions, catastrophic failure can result. With the understanding of the role all Airmen play in using the habits of mind for critical thinking, the following sections examine perspectives on decision-making failure.

Normal Accident Theory - Structural Perspective. The normal accident theory rests upon the assumption that in any highly complex high-risk organizational structure, decision failures are unavoidable. High-risk systems are systems classified by their complexity and the coupling of multiple processes occurring in conjunction with one another. Systems that are interactively complex and tightly coupled are particularly vulnerable to catastrophic failure stemming from mistakes made by decision-makers, often small mistakes, which go unrecognized or uncorrected.

In coupled (interdependent) systems, tight interactions based on poor decisions can magnify normal accidents into system-wide failure. In simple linear processes, such as an assembly line, failure has a visible impact on the next process, but is identifiable and limited. When interactions are nonlinear and affect a variety of other systems, the failure of one component has unanticipated effects on many subsystems. If the subsystems are tightly coupled (highly interdependent) a failure quickly causes changes in multiple systems nearly simultaneously, making it hard for leaders to diagnose the symptoms and determine the extent of the failure. Because Airmen project power globally, anticipation of the impact from even minor deviations from procedure or instruction, is extremely challenging.

Normalized Deviance Theory - Behavioral Perspective. The normalized deviance theory is the gradual acceptance of unexpected events and risks as a normal behavior in the operating environment, including the acceptance of lower standards. This practice of producing shortcuts or variations to normal procedures eventually becomes normalized to the point where the deviance is no longer noticed. Deviations become accepted as new norms and are no longer assessed using the habits of mind necessary to identify causes and find solutions. As organizational members become accustomed to the reoccurrence of seemingly minor but unpredicted anomalies, they become less concerned with the potential catastrophic effects of more severe failures of the same system.

A classic case of normalized deviance is the example of the Challenger space shuttle disaster. In this case, the erosion of O-rings was not within acceptable tolerances. However, after its occurrence, several times with no catastrophic result, the members of the organization accepted their erosion as a normal and acceptable event, despite deviation from their engineering standards. In this case National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as an organization, was working hard to make space flight feel routine. The organization's culture, combined with cognitive bias and external pressures, led to the normalization of a potentially catastrophic failure.

Airmen must be aware of the type of organization they operate within and understand its complex interactions. We should guard against substandard procedures by continuously questioning the way we do business, consciously identifying the "close-calls" and deviances from normal operations, and ensuring deviations from standards are analyzed as part of the decision-making process to gain an understanding of how to improve programs and implement new decisions.

Practical Drift. Within large organizations, sub-unit leaders at all levels make decisions to maximize efficiency. They establish localized rules and procedures that comply with the overall intent of the organization. Over time, these procedures become accepted practice. Similar to normalizing deviance, this practice causes organizational norms to drift. Often, this drift is unproblematic; however, under ambiguous conditions in complex interactive environments, divergence may lead to altered expectations and poor information flow (resulting in catastrophic cross-system failure).

Airmen must be aware of how their decisions at the local level tie in with overall organizational goals, standards, and expectations. Leaders must use their awareness of organizational goals and standards to monitor practical drift in their areas of responsibility, recognize disciplined initiative, and maintain standards consistent with outside expectations. Airmen in positions of responsibility must work to temper practical drift and create a culture where critical thinking is applied to ambiguous threats. This goal can be accomplished by developing processes for identifying and analyzing small problems and failures, and treating them as potential indicators of larger problems. Effective techniques include empowerment of front line workers and flattening hierarchies to reduce information filtering. Leaders can further minimize the problems associated with practical drift, by:

- Creating and encouraging transparency in organizational structures and systems to identify local practical drift and understanding the "why" behind local standards.

- Avoiding 'Band-Aid' approaches to small problems by fixing the root cause across the system, as well as creating a climate of candid dialogue to review and revisit standards and seek problems.

- Monitoring seams where information is handed off between units and organizations.

- Conducting careful after-action reviews focused on process improvement.

Ambiguity. The challenge for Airmen of all ranks is that ambiguous threats do not trigger organizational responses. The failure to apply critical thinking to ambiguous threats means the recovery window between the emergence of the threat and its occurrence as a catastrophic failure may narrow. Airmen at all levels must be aware that ambiguous threats may go unaddressed due to information filters caused by structural complexity and inter-organizational power dynamics.




Section 15C, Informed Decision-Making

Paragraph 15.15., Learning is Power: No Changes

Paragraphs 15.16. - 15.18. is New Content

Paragraph 15.19., Decision-Making Model: the last paragraph was edited.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.15. Learning is Power

Effective Airmanship requires good decision-making. From Airman Basic to General, the decisions each of us make every day impact the delivery of airpower. The habits of mind necessary for becoming a critical thinker are developed over time. Each of us must work every day to make good decisions by consciously applying the intellectual analysis necessary to account for complexities. The process of decision-making is as important as the information analyzed. The habitual application of critical thinking methods to the gathering and analysis of information helps reduce our unconscious and natural tendency to accept an available option as satisfactory without actually exploring all feasible options before making a decision.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.15. Learning is Power

Effective Airmanship requires good decision-making. From Airman Basic to General, the decisions each of us make every day impact the delivery of airpower. The habits of mind necessary for becoming a critical thinker are developed over time. Each of us must work every day to make good decisions by consciously applying the intellectual analysis necessary to account for complexities. The process of decision-making is as important as the information analyzed. The habitual application of critical thinking methods to the gathering and analysis of information helps reduce our unconscious and natural tendency to accept an available option as satisfactory without actually exploring all feasible options before making a decision.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.16. Digital Literacy (Information Literacy)

Decision makers must be informed and capable of distinguishing information relevant to the decision at hand. Fortunately, the internet has made more information available than ever before. This allows for immediate access to information from a wide variety of sources, and provides the potential for real-time updates as conditions change. However, because internet information is not regulated for quality and accuracy, it is particularly important to critically evaluate sources and consider the potential for inaccuracy or misinformation.

To become a critical consumer and internet user, a common best practice is to apply the "CRAAP test," which is a list of questions to evaluate potential information. The CRAAP acronym stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose:

Currency (timeliness): When was the information published or last updated? Have newer articles been published on the topic? Does your topic require recent information or will older sources work as well?

Relevance (importance of the information for your needs): Does the information answer your question? Who is the intended audience? Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e., not too simple or overly technical for your needs)?

Authority (source of the information): Who is the publisher or sponsor? What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations? Is the author qualified to write on the topic?

Accuracy (reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of content): Is the information supported by evidence? Was the information reviewed by editors or subject experts before it was published? Can you verify any of the information in other sources?

Purpose (the reason the information exists): Is the information intended to inform or teach? Or is it intended to sell, entertain, or persuade? Does the point of view appear objective and impartial? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

In general, aim to rely on sources that have strong incentives to present accurate information. There may be little consequence to the writer of a blog or message board post if they get facts wrong. For-profit companies may purposely mislead in order to present their company and products positively. However, information in newspaper articles or scientific papers is normally reliable; errors in these forums can seriously damage the author's reputation.

2019 Air Force Handbook

Not in 2019 AFH-1

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.17. Analytical Thinking

Informed decision making requires more than gathering and evaluating facts. It requires analytical thinking to systematically break information apart, compare different aspects of a problem, and organize information to address complex, multidimensional issues.

As a first step, exercise healthy skepticism and consider several potential causes of what you observe. One can often avoid errors in analytical reasoning by recognizing a few basic principles:

Limitations of Small Sample Sizes. Judgments based on a large number of observations (large number of people, events, etc.) are more likely to be accurate than judgments based on a small number of observations.

Example: Imagine you decided to get a college degree as part of your personal growth. You have a program in mind, but there are so many educational institutions to choose from. You have narrowed your choice to University A or University B. You have several friends that attend each school. Your friends at University A all really like the school; your friends at University B are very dissatisfied with their school. However, when you visit University B you have a good experience and like the students and professor that you met with. In contrast, during your visit to University A, you get the brush-off from the professor you tried to speak with and didn't "click" with the students you met.

Which school should you attend? Many people will say you should attend University B because you personally had a positive experience ("go with your gut"). While that's not necessarily wrong, it is important to fully recognize the limited duration of your visit (How much of the school did you see? How many different classes did you sit in on? How many students, professors, etc. did you interact with?). In comparison, your friends at University B will have had much more extensive opportunities to interact with many others at the school over a longer time period.

Take the time to base your decisions on a larger number of observations when possible. Impressions based on a few days or a few people will usually not be as accurate as judgments or data based on a larger number of observations.

Correlation Doesn't Imply Causality. It is important to consider how different factors are interrelated, and whether changing (increasing or decreasing) one factor may impact others. Even when two factors are clearly related, do not immediately assume that one factor is causing the other.

To make firm conclusions, ensure that you are making fair comparisons. While the real world does not lend itself to carefully designed double-blind randomized clinical trials (the "gold standard" for scientific research), it is important to apply the concept of the control group when making judgments. Before scientists determine that a pill causes a certain health outcome, they compare outcomes for those who have taken the pill to outcomes for those who have not. Before concluding that the pill caused the difference in outcomes, they ask an important question: Are the two groups otherwise (mostly) the same?

For example, imagine that a base offered XYZ supplements for free to all Active Duty members. Members who took the free supplements improved their physical fitness test scores after taking the supplements, while there was no change in the physical fitness test scores of others.

Before you conclude that XYZ supplements cause improved physical fitness, ask some questions. Consider whether the people who took XYZ supplements differed in important ways from those who didn't. Maybe there was a self-selection bias: members who exercised more or ate healthier foods (i.e., were more motivated to improve their fitness) were more likely to choose to take Vitamin XYZ. Or maybe Vitamin XYZ takers were younger than non-takers, or less likely than non-takers to have pre-existing health conditions.

The more similar the two groups, the more reasonable it would be to conclude that XYZ supplements cause improved physical fitness. Deciding to take XYZ supplements may or may not be a good idea. Before you make that decision though, consider whether you're making a fair comparison.

2019 Air Force Handbook

Not in 2019 AFH-1

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.18. Creative Thinking and Creative Problem Solving

Creative problem solving involves two distinct components: Divergent Thinking and Convergent Thinking. Divergent Thinking is defined as the ability to generate multiple varied solutions to a given problem. Brainstorming is a divergent thinking task. Convergent Thinking, in contrast, is a process that seeks out the correct or best possible solution (from identified possibilities).

With formal education and training, we tend to improve in Convergent Thinking skills, but we tend not to improve (may even worsen) on Divergent Thinking. Yet both processes are important for effective problem solving.

The Osborn-Parnes model is one recommended problem solving approach that incorporates Divergent and Convergent Thinking. Central to this approach is the principle of deferred judgment. This principle requires that we allow a period of time to let ideas flow freely (apply Divergent Thinking) without internal or external evaluation. Only after we have identified many possible ideas, should we evaluate them (apply Convergent Thinking).

The model consists of the following stages; each stage involves successive Divergent and Convergent Thinking tasks (in each stage, letting ideas flow freely before applying judgment):

1. Mess Finding: Identify the problem that you want to address. What do you want to change? Summarize the problem as a "How to..." statement (e.g., "How to reduce the number of Airmen calling in sick")

2. Data Finding: Seek out all relevant facts that apply to the situation. Ask the five Ws:

• Who is involved?
• What is involved? What are some examples of the problem?
• When does it or will it happen?
• Where does it or will it happen?
• Why does it happen?

Then try to identify what additional facts about the situation are lacking and where you might search for them. Get the facts.

3. Problem Finding: Describe what you want to accomplish in more specific terms.

Ask yourself: "In What Ways Might We..." (IWWMW) address the situation. Brainstorm many problem statements. What you initially thought you wanted to accomplish might reflect another concern, desire, or need.

After reflection, select the problem statement(s) that captures the most important or underlying problem (e.g., "Decrease the spread of COVID-19 in the squadron")

4. Idea Finding: Identify as many potential solutions to the problem as possible.

Thinking of many ideas (even far-out, odd, or unusual ideas) is critical. Write all the ideas down. It is often helpful to set a numeric goal (e.g., 50-75 ideas) before you discuss or review the ideas.

If time permits, incubate (sleep on it, let your mind wander) to generate additional ideas. Positive mood and rest facilitate brainstorming.

In a group setting, it can sometimes help to have members offer ideas anonymously. Extrinsic motivations (e.g., to impress others with great ideas) can undermine divergent thinking. Anonymity may help group members feel safe to put forward ideas that go beyond the tried-and-true.

Only after you have allowed time to generate many ideas should you begin to evaluate them and narrow the list (e.g., to select 6-8 ideas that seem to have the greatest potential).

5. Solution Finding: Use a list of selected criteria to choose the best solution.

First create a preliminary list of criteria that should be used to evaluate your ideas (e.g., time, cost, feasibility, safety, impact on morale, etc.)

Identify which criteria are most critical and assign a weight to the importance of each criteria (e.g., using a 1-10 scale, where 10 is most important). Then use a decision matrix to rate each idea (each potential solution) on each of the criteria:

Multiply the ratings by the weight assigned to each of the criteria. Idea(s) that are evaluated most favorably on the highest weighted criteria should be the preferred solution(s).

6. Acceptance Finding: Attempt to gain acceptance for the solution, develop a plan of action, and implement the solution (follow through).

2019 Air Force Handbook

Not in 2019 AFH-1

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.19. Decision-Making Model

There are a wide range of decision-making models available for leaders, whether in the military or corporate structure. One decision-making model that has been adopted by the military is the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-Making Model, used for deciding how to decide. According to this model, there are five primary levels of decision-making, each requiring a different level of involvement or complexity for the decision-making process. The following is a brief description of each of the five levels of decision-making and some pros and cons associated with each level.

Level I: Decide and Announce. In this level, leaders make the decision and announce or present it to the group or organization. This approach can allow leaders to make and implement decisions quickly, but to avoid possible indifference or lack of motivation. In this approach, the leader controls the decision and the situation. Leaders should explain rationale as to why the decision was made unilaterally. Cons associated with this approach are that leaders may not take the time to consider all the necessary information. By not including others in the decision-making process, leaders may alienate members of the group or organization unnecessarily.

Level II: Gather Input from Individuals and Decide. In this level, leaders gather input from selected individuals or the group individually and then make the decision. This approach can allow leaders to consult with recognized experts to gather additional information to make a more informed decision, but does not require a meeting with the entire group. Cons associated with this approach are that others in the group may wonder why the leader did not consult with them. They may perceive the leader as playing favorites, which could result in some resistance from the group or organization when it comes time to implement the decision.

Level III: Gather Input from the Group and Decide. In this level, leaders gather input from the group and then make a decision. This approach of including the group in gathering the data enhances the chance for synergy and better-informed decision-making. Cons associated with this approach are that if a leader makes a decision different from what the group suggests, the group may feel that their inputs or suggestions were not valued or appreciated. The group may feel that the decision-making process was predetermined by the leader and that the interaction was a façade, which will likely result in members of the group undermining implementation or being unwilling to participate in future decisions. Also, this approach does take more time for the leader to make the decision.

Level IV: Facilitate Consensus. In this level, leaders present issues or problems to the group and facilitate the decision-making process within the group. If the group is unable to reach consensus, the leader has the option to make the decision. This approach of allowing the group to generate possible decision options enhances buy-in and ownership of members of the group, educates members of the group, and allows for quicker implementation as more people are knowledgeable about the decision process and what needs to be done. This approach helps build and sustain trust and respect between group members. Cons associated with this approach are that it takes more time. Also, there is the possibility that the decision could be one that is adequate, but not optimal due to the nature of groups arriving at a compromise to reach an agreement and the leader needing to accept the decision or facilitate further decision analysis.

Level V: Delegate with Constraints. In this level, leaders delegate the problem to the group and authorize the group to make the decision within specified boundaries. Leaders do not abandon the group, but facilitate support and resources to enable the group's success in making a decision. This approach is good for building team leadership skills and allows ownership of the decision by the group. It also frees the leader to focus on other issues. Cons associated with this approach are that it takes more time, it may lead to a decision not viewed by the leader as optimal, and the team may not have the skills to reach a quality decision, resulting in disharmony among the group rather than pride in ownership over the decision. Note that the Osborn-Parnes process can be applied regardless of who provides input or makes the final decision. For example, leaders can apply the Osborn-Parnes process to reach a decision independently (Level I: Decide and Announce). They can involve others in Idea Finding only (Level I or II: Gather Input and Decide). Or they can encourage others to apply the Osborn-Parnes process (Level IV or V: Facilitate Consensus or Delegate with Constraints).

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.18. Decision-Making Model

There are a wide range of decision-making models available for leaders, whether in the military or corporate structure. One decision-making model that has been adopted by the military is the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-Making Model, used for deciding how to decide. According to this model, there are five primary levels of decision-making, each requiring a different level of involvement or complexity for the decision-making process. The following is a brief description of each of the five levels of decision-making and some pros and cons associated with each level.

Level I: Decide and Announce. In this level, leaders make the decision and announce or present it to the group or organization. This approach can allow leaders to make and implement decisions quickly, but to avoid possible indifference or lack of motivation. In this approach, the leader controls the decision and the situation. Leaders should explain rationale as to why the decision was made unilaterally. Cons associated with this approach are that leaders may not take the time to consider all the necessary information. By not including others in the decision-making process, leaders may alienate members of the group or organization unnecessarily.

Level II: Gather Input from Individuals and Decide. In this level, leaders gather input from selected individuals or the group individually and then make the decision. This approach can allow leaders to consult with recognized experts to gather additional information to make a more informed decision, but does not require a meeting with the entire group. Cons associated with this approach are that others in the group may wonder why the leader did not consult with them. They may perceive the leader as playing favorites, which could result in some resistance from the group or organization when it comes time to implement the decision.

Level III: Gather Input from the Group and Decide. In this level, leaders gather input from the group and then make a decision. This approach of including the group in gathering the data enhances the chance for synergy and better-informed decision-making. Cons associated with this approach are that if a leader makes a decision different from what the group suggests, the group may feel that their inputs or suggestions were not valued or appreciated. The group may feel that the decision-making process was predetermined by the leader and that the interaction was a façade, which will likely result in members of the group undermining implementation or being unwilling to participate in future decisions. Also, this approach does take more time for the leader to make the decision.

Level IV: Facilitate Consensus. In this level, leaders present issues or problems to the group and facilitate the decision-making process within the group. If the group is unable to reach consensus, the leader has the option to make the decision. This approach of allowing the group to generate possible decision options enhances buy-in and ownership of members of the group, educates members of the group, and allows for quicker implementation as more people are knowledgeable about the decision process and what needs to be done. This approach helps build and sustain trust and respect between group members. Cons associated with this approach are that it takes more time. Also, there is the possibility that the decision could be one that is adequate, but not optimal due to the nature of groups arriving at a compromise to reach an agreement and the leader needing to accept the decision or facilitate further decision analysis.

Level V: Delegate with Constraints. In this level, leaders delegate the problem to the group and authorize the group to make the decision within specified boundaries. Leaders do not abandon the group, but facilitate support and resources to enable the group's success in making a decision. This approach is good for building team leadership skills and allows ownership of the decision by the group. It also frees the leader to focus on other issues. Cons associated with this approach are that it takes more time, it may lead to a decision not viewed by the leader as optimal, and the team may not have the skills to reach a quality decision, resulting in disharmony among the group rather than pride in ownership over the decision.




Section 15D, What We Don't Know

Paragraphs 15.20. - 15.23. No Significant Changes

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.20. Expansion

Innovation, technological edge, advanced skills training, future capabilities... How do we ensure we are prepared for the future? Clarifying what we do know and what we don't know is one place to start. Here are a few statements that emphasize our need to stay on the cutting edge.

- Fifth-generation aircraft are critical to penetrate adversaries' existing air defenses, but other nations continue to invest in advanced air defense systems.

- Adversaries are fast followers of American technology, constantly narrowing the gap and looking for ways to surpass or defeat American innovation.

- Even adversaries who can't compete with American airpower in the sky challenge our air superiority by using ground-based systems and technology.

- Maintaining air superiority into the future requires consistent investment in technology and research today.

- As adversary technology narrows the gap, highly trained American Airmen provide the advantage.

- Training against rigorous and realistic threats is vital to prepare Airmen to react within seconds during real world operations.

- The lack of budget stability and predictability makes it difficult for the Air Force to modernize training technology and facilities and ensure our pilots maintain an edge over adversaries.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.19. Expansion

Innovation, technological edge, advanced skills training, future capabilities... How do we ensure we are prepared for the future? Clarifying what we do know and what we don't know is one place to start. Here are a few statements that emphasize our need to stay on the cutting edge.

- Fifth-generation aircraft are critical to penetrate adversaries' existing air defenses, but other nations continue to invest in advanced air defense systems.

- Adversaries are fast followers of American technology, constantly narrowing the gap and looking for ways to surpass or defeat American innovation.

- Even adversaries who can't compete with American airpower in the sky challenge our air superiority by using ground-based systems and technology.

- Maintaining air superiority into the future requires consistent investment in technology and research today.

- As adversary technology narrows the gap, highly trained American Airmen provide the advantage.

- Training against rigorous and realistic threats is vital to prepare Airmen to react within seconds during real world operations.

- The lack of budget stability and predictability makes it difficult for the Air Force to modernize training technology and facilities and ensure our pilots maintain an edge over adversaries.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.21. Empowerment

Today's leader has the almost impossible task of keeping up with ever-changing technology. Today's junior members have knowledge, skills, and abilities that open unlimited opportunities to maximize work center effectiveness. Leaders must encourage Airmen to develop their capabilities and foster their willingness to improve organizational effectiveness. Empowered followership, like motivation, requires a joint effort between leaders and the individuals they lead. This effort must be continuously promoted. The mission is best served when the leader helps followers develop their own initiatives, encourages them to use their own judgment, and allows them to grow. As a result of promoting empowered followership, creativity and innovativeness improve dramatically.

Empowerment is a force that energizes people and provides responsibility, ownership, and control over the work they perform. Delegation is not empowerment; however, effective empowerment does require good delegation. Assigning tasks and allowing the freedom and authority to creatively accomplish those tasks is the essence of empowerment. Empowerment allows workers to become stakeholders in the organization's vision. Once committed to the vision, members participate in shaping and fashioning a shared vision. This synergistically developed vision motivates people to focus on what the future holds, not simply because they must, but because they want to.

The military is traditionally an authoritarian organization. The need for rapid decision-making and crisis response normally necessitates a traditional hierarchical framework; however, complex hierarchical frameworks do not always result in rapid decisions. Furthermore, the continual transformation of leader-follower roles is heralding an environment that allows both leaders and followers to more effectively realize organizational goals and objectives.

Historically, truly great leaders of the past never directly told their people how to do their jobs; rather, they explained what needed to be done and established a playing field that allowed their people to achieve success on their own. Consequently, the follower's success became a success for the leader and the organization. When leaders solicit input, they discover the knowledge, interest, and parameters of support. Empowerment enhances organizational performance by promoting contributions from every member of the organization. Trust is the cornerstone of the mutually dependent relationship shared by leaders and followers; therefore, leaders must be flexible and patient in introducing empowerment. By delegating decisions to those closest to the issues and by allowing Airmen flexibility in how they implement the vision the leader successfully allows others to take ownership and experience pride in achieving the vision. Recognition is a key factor in perpetuating improvements. Hence, an important facet of empowerment is the appropriate recognition of contributions Airmen make to maximizing mission success.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.20. Empowerment

Today's leader has the almost impossible task of keeping up with ever-changing technology. Today's junior members have knowledge, skills, and abilities that open unlimited opportunities to maximize work center effectiveness. Leaders must encourage Airmen to develop their capabilities and foster their willingness to improve organizational effectiveness. Empowered followership, like motivation, requires a joint effort between leaders and the individuals they lead. This effort must be continuously promoted. The mission is best served when the leader helps followers develop their own initiatives, encourages them to use their own judgment, and allows them to grow. As a result of promoting empowered followership, creativity and innovativeness improve dramatically.

Empowerment is a force that energizes people and provides responsibility, ownership, and control over the work they perform. Delegation is not empowerment; however, effective empowerment does require good delegation. Assigning tasks and allowing the freedom and authority to creatively accomplish those tasks is the essence of empowerment. Empowerment allows workers to become stakeholders in the organization's vision. Once committed to the vision, members participate in shaping and fashioning a shared vision. This synergistically developed vision motivates people to focus on what the future holds, not simply because they must, but because they want to.

The military is traditionally an authoritarian organization. The need for rapid decision-making and crisis response normally necessitates a traditional hierarchical framework; however, complex hierarchical frameworks do not always result in rapid decisions. Furthermore, the continual transformation of leader-follower roles is heralding an environment that allows both leaders and followers to more effectively realize organizational goals and objectives.

Historically, truly great leaders of the past never directly told their people how to do their jobs; rather, they explained what needed to be done and established a playing field that allowed their people to achieve success on their own. Consequently, the follower's success became a success for the leader and the organization. When leaders solicit input, they discover the knowledge, interest, and parameters of support. Empowerment enhances organizational performance by promoting contributions from every member of the organization. Trust is the cornerstone of the mutually dependent relationship shared by leaders and followers; therefore, leaders must be flexible and patient in introducing empowerment. By delegating decisions to those closest to the issues and by allowing Airmen flexibility in how they implement the vision the leader successfully allows others to take ownership and experience pride in achieving the vision. Recognition is a key factor in perpetuating improvements. Hence, an important facet of empowerment is the appropriate recognition of contributions Airmen make to maximizing mission success.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.22. Empowered Airmen Culture

The Air Force aims to build a culture where we identify Airmen's needs, champion their solutions, eliminate roadblocks, push back detractors, and celebrate the innovative mindset. The Airmen of today are already well-versed in innovative technologies and will propel us into the Air Force of tomorrow by integrating data-centric processes at the core of our operations. Machine learning and new technologies will lead us to a new age of human-to-machine teaming by putting Airmen 'on' the loop instead of 'in' the loop. The Air Force will automate where appropriate to free Airmen to do human things while letting machines do machine things.

Maintaining our ability to adapt and innovate quickly is the greatest challenge we face in the future. Employing agility and inclusiveness, we are charged with a no-fail mission of providing effective Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power -today, tomorrow, and into the future. In modern war, no other nation has achieved such an asymmetric advantage. If the past two decades have taught us anything, it is that the demand for airpower is growing. The Air Force will seek to increase innovation, and research where we need to maintain a competitive advantage.

Rapid change is the new norm, and it is a major vulnerability to those unable to adapt; however, it can become an advantage to the agile who are able to swiftly develop and field solutions to problems. The answers to our most complex security issues will be delivered by harnessing the power of innovators and entrepreneurs within the Air Force, across our country, and throughout the world. We must drive innovation to secure our future.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.21. Empowered Airmen Culture

The Air Force aims to build a culture where we identify Airmen's needs, champion their solutions, eliminate roadblocks, push back detractors, and celebrate the innovative mindset. The Airmen of today are already well-versed in innovative technologies and will propel us into the Air Force of tomorrow by integrating data-centric processes at the core of our operations. Machine learning and new technologies will lead us to a new age of human-to-machine teaming by putting Airmen 'on' the loop instead of 'in' the loop. The Air Force will automate where appropriate to free Airmen to do human things while letting machines do machine things.

Maintaining our ability to adapt and innovate quickly is the greatest challenge we face in the future. Employing agility and inclusiveness, we are charged with a no-fail mission of providing effective Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power -today, tomorrow, and into the future. In modern war, no other nation has achieved such an asymmetric advantage. If the past two decades have taught us anything, it is that the demand for airpower is growing. The Air Force will seek to increase innovation, and research where we need to maintain a competitive advantage.

Rapid change is the new norm, and it is a major vulnerability to those unable to adapt; however, it can become an advantage to the agile who are able to swiftly develop and field solutions to problems. The answers to our most complex security issues will be delivered by harnessing the power of innovators and entrepreneurs within the Air Force, across our country, and throughout the world. We must drive innovation to secure our future.

2021 E6 Study Guide

15.23. Collaboration Fosters Innovation

Airmen at all levels participate in decision-making. The habits of mind necessary to assure we apply critical thought are something we must consciously foster. Our diverse and highly educated force brings to the table a wide variety of views, experiences, and abilities; providing the Air Force a deep pool of talent from which to draw ideas. By using the techniques of good decision-making and fostering the development of habits of mind, we tap into that rich pool of talent.

When time allows, we must consciously create processes to think through decisions using critical analysis of all factors, ensuring we focus on doing what is best for the Nation and the Air Force. This effort to create habits of mind pays off when we must make decisions quickly and under great pressure. During these times we naturally apply the decision-making processes we use every day.

The Air Force leverages many channels to empower our Airmen and industry partners to submit ideas as part of our overarching culture of innovation. Collaboration can facilitate ideas and often align efforts toward innovative concepts and technologies. Partnerships with outside groups, including traditional and non-traditional industry partners and academia, bring new ideas to the innovation process. While the Air Force is leveraging new and existing technologies to provide rapid and affordable solutions, it is investing in game-changing technologies, such as autonomous systems, unmanned systems, hypersonic, directed energy, nanotechnology, and stimulating new thinking about future ways of warfighting and battlefield success.

2019 Air Force Handbook

16.22. Collaboration Drives Innovation

Airmen at all levels participate in decision-making. The habits of mind necessary to assure we apply critical thought are something we must consciously foster. Our diverse and highly educated force brings to the table a wide variety of views, experiences, and abilities; providing the Air Force a deep pool of talent from which to draw ideas. By using the techniques of good decision-making and fostering the development of habits of mind, we tap into that rich pool of talent.

When time allows, we must consciously create processes to think through decisions using critical analysis of all factors, ensuring we focus on doing what is best for the Nation and the Air Force. This effort to create habits of mind pays off when we must make decisions quickly and under great pressure. During these times we naturally apply the decision-making processes we use every day.

The Air Force leverages many channels to empower our Airmen and industry partners to submit ideas as part of our overarching culture of innovation. Collaboration can facilitate ideas and often align efforts toward innovative concepts and technologies. Partnerships with outside groups, including traditional and non-traditional industry partners and academia, bring new ideas to the innovation process. While the Air Force is leveraging new and existing technologies to provide rapid and affordable solutions, it is investing in game-changing technologies, such as autonomous systems, unmanned systems, hypersonics, directed energy, nanotechnology, and stimulating new thinking about future ways of warfighting and battlefield success.