I have always assumed that decision making under uncertainty is just a term for the situation facing every hapless executive without benefit of a quant geek or a set of decision analysis tools. But this week, in talking with Unilever’s Sven Roden, I discovered that, used as a proper noun with initial caps–Decision Making Under Uncertainty–or as the acronym DMUU, what was a quandary becomes a solution to that quandary, a method for creating product strategies, forecasting production, establishing value-at-risk.
Dr. Rosen, who is a senior decision analyst with Unilever’s Finance Academy, tells me that DMUU incorporates risk (or opportunity) assessment into every step of a strategic decision, and the corporation has adopted this as a way of life, a mode of doing business. For those at Unilever it is a way of dealing with the many potential innovations the consumer goods giants faces in its markets. What it means is constant vigilance for an uncertainty appearing on the operational horizon or one cropping up immediately underfoot, identifying exactly what is uncertain about it, and a predetermined process to cut that slippery factor down to size. Also, to implement this recipe for reason, at least 900 copies of the same decision support software.
Talk about embracing a concept! Apparently the only decision about which there was no uncertainty was the adoption of DMUU and the shift in corporate culture it is bringing.