Decision Making Under Uncertainty

Disciplines: Management

Course Description

The only control an organisation has over its future is the decisions it makes and their implementation. The same applies to our personal lives. Fortunately, there is a right way to make the best decisions for getting the outcomes we desire, which is the focus of this course. It consists of a non-proprietary, structured, pragmatic methodology, based on decision science, that balances the effort needed to decide with its importance, consequences, difficulty, and cost. Thus, it is scalable from decisions requiring a 10-minute conversation to strategic decisions. It works for decisions whose benefits are easily quantifiable (e.g. $) and those that appear not to be (e.g. "team-playerness" of a new hire; or company reputation). It offers ways to deal with things that make decisions hard such as uncertainty, risk, time, pressure, lack of information, biases, organisational complexity, multiple decision-makers, and it provides an auditable record of how and why a decision was made, which helps with buy-in to its implementation and later review.

Seats are limited to 15 participants, register now to save your seat

Learning Level

Introductory - Intermediate

Course Length

1 Day

Why Attend

Why you should attend: Making good decisions is not intuitive in uncertain, complex or novel situations. Nor is it a natural talent - good decisions makers are made, not born. To get a better decision outcomes for your employer, or yourself (and to be more efficient and effective in your work), it is necessary to learn the skills of decision-making.

What you will learn:

  1. The brain's two systems for making decisions and the two fields of study in decision-making: behavioural (cognitive science) and prescriptive (decision/management science)
  2. The components or elements of any decision that requires thinking - the basis for making good decisions
  3. To distinguish between good or bad decisions and good or bad outcomes
  4. The 6 metrics of a high quality decision and how to use them to formally assess Decision Quality
  5. The benefits of a decision dialog approach, versus an advocacy approach, for decisions where the decision-makers are not the people doing the analysis or evaluation
  6. An introduction to the 8-steps process for making good decisions and a variety of "tools" that support it

Who Attends

This course is suitable for all people who provide information for, or make, decisions under conditions or uncertainty, novelty or complexity - from relatively minor decision (e.g. to collect data, do "studies", hire a team member), through "project" level decisions, up to major investment or strategic decisions. Engineers, geoscientists, business unit leaders, commercial, economics, strategy, portfolio. (It is equally applicable to personal decision-making!)

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations must be received no later than 14 days prior to the course start date. Cancellations made after the 14-day window will not be refunded. Refunds will not be given due to no show situations.

Training sessions attached to SPE conferences and workshops follow the cancellation policies stated on the event information page. Please check that page for specific cancellation information.

SPE reserves the right to cancel or re-schedule courses at will. Notification of changes will be made as quickly as possible; please keep this in mind when arranging travel, as SPE is not responsible for any fees charged for cancelling or changing travel arrangements.

We reserve the right to substitute course instructors as necessary.



Steve Begg is an Emeritus Professor at the Australian School of Petroleum and Energy Resources, University of Adelaide where his focus is on tools and processes for decision-making under uncertainty; psychological factors in eliciting expert opinions; project economics; and portfolio evaluations. He also provides industry training courses on these topics through his company DecisionsDecisions.


Steve started his career in 1983 as a reservoir characterisation researcher, and then project manager, with BP Research. He then spent 6 years in senior geoscience and engineering roles with BP Alaska before becoming Director of Strategic Planning and Decision Science with Landmark.


He has twice been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer on uncertainty and decision-making topics. In 2014 he was elected to the Board of the Society of Decision Professionals (SDP). In 2016 he received the SPE's top international award for the Management and Information discipline for his work on biases in decision-making.


Steve has published numerous papers on topics such as decision-making, investment evaluation or economics, psychology of expert judgements and reservoir characterisation. He is co-author, with Reidar Bratvold, of the book "Making Good Decisions", has given many industry short-courses and workshops, and has been a frequent keynote speaker at conferences.


He holds a BSc in Geological Geophysics, and PhD in Earthquake Seismology, from Reading University in the UK and has taken executive education courses at MIT and U. Texas, Austin.