On Thursday and Friday of last week (1st and 2nd of November, 2018) I attended a training course at the Australian Institute of Management (AIM). This training was made possible by an AIM WA scholarship via. an internal application at Telethon Kids Institute. I went to a course called Practical Decision Making, which was attended by 8 other people from local government, training organisations, and research institutes/universities.
I would like to express my thanks to both AIM WA and the Telethon Kids Institute for this opportunity. The 2 day course was engaging, educational, and will benefit me and my work at Telethon Kids.
Biostatisticians take on the responsibility for all statistical activities for a research project, supervising the work of other researchers and members in interdisciplinary teams. We also contribute to clinical discussions on study objectives and the choice/definition of primary endpoints, this might also involve liaising with external experts and opinion leaders. The biostatistician is well situated within any collaborative research team to assess the situation/data and make a critical decision and communicate with all members so they are on-board and excited to achieve the best possible outcome for the research project.
The Practical Decision Making course was facilitated by John Wilcock at AIM’s training centre in Floreat. The training was delivered through group based discussion and lecture-like sessions. A detailed 70 page course booklet was also provided with templates and tools to: guide problem definition, perform cause and effect analysis, a decision analysis matrix, and processes to facilitate risk analysis and management. John was very engaging and drew on many years of management experiences in companies including IKEA, Target, and his own businesses.
The training also used a number of case studies that were solved in small groups. These provided opportunities to work through the decision making process and also encouraged me to use various communication styles when working collaboratively that cater for all learning types (i.e. visual vs. audible vs. tactile).
One group exercise that I found particularly memorable was called the “Zin Obelisk”. This task required 3 person groups to share 30 discrete, and sometimes obscure, pieces of information and decide which day of the week a gang of workers would complete the construction of a religious monument. This exercise highlighted skills that I can improve to ensure all team members that I work with are included in technical discussions and can participate to the decision making process. My style of working through a problem is to scribble down notes until I can form a path to the answer, but rather than jotting down notes for my own benefit, I can be more inclusive by scribbling on something more visible to everyone such as a flip-book on an A-frame.
The decision making and communication skills that were learnt from AIM Practical Decision Making course will help me:
- Ask “why” at least 5 times so I can really understand the researchers’ questions
- Frame a problem in a way that will help put the issue in the proper perspective
- Effectively communicate my decisions to relevant stakeholders and encourage action
- Help me use established tools and techniques to guide the strategic direction of a research project to a successful conclusion.