What is Judgment?
Judgment is the expression of a mental activity that may be exercised with greater or less skill.
Information, whether raw or analyzed, enters the decision makers stream as part decision makers "appreciations." In his classic work, The Art of Judgment, Sir Geoffrey Vickers defines "appreciation" as the product of interaction between Reality Judgments: "What is going on?", Value Judgments: "What difference does it make?", and Action Judgments: “What do we do about it?".
An appreciation comprises both an action decision and the rationale that underpins it. The quality of the decision depends on the thought devoted to each component and the thought applied to relating one component to another. Perfect knowledge of reality is not of much use without criteria for separating the important from the unimportant. Knowing clearly what is important is not much use in practical affairs without capacity for matching knowledge to action.
"innovative appreciation" describes a kind of analytical discovery of how to match up understanding of facts, assessment of their relative importance, and creative thought about what to do.
None of the elements of appreciation is fixed, they change rapidly and sometimes unpredictably. When one element changes, the others are likely also to change. The appreciative System diagram illustrates the process, but someone looking at it needs to bear in mind that it captures vickers' concept only if one imagines that the arrows are constantly in motion until the process is sufficiently complete so that action can actually be taken.
That this is a dynamic, not a static, image is critically important, because information gatherers and decision makers often make the mistake of assuming that one set of judgments or another is fixed. This mistake is most often made regarding value judgments, for it is all too easy to suppose that the actions or policies of another person or organization or government derive from ascertainable and more or less permanent interests. Such a supposition is often alluring because it is seldom wholly wrong. Interests are ascertainable and are more or less permanent. But the mix that answers the question "So What?" can change almost from moment to moment.
value judgments change along with changes in reality judgments and actions judgments. While interests may be constant, priorities among those interests are not.
initial reality judgments can be sharpened by taking care to distinguish clearly what is know from what is merely presumed to be true. presumptions often have great influence in appreciations. participants frequently push particular presumptions because they suit either their value preferences or their action preferences. information gatherers need to note presumptions of their own-and of others- that might have distorting effects, they need to gauge the mixture of known and presumed in the reality judgments of other agencies or organizations, and--at least as important--they must try to sort out what is known and presumed by the decision makers they hope to inform.
the precept here is not to counsel information gatherers to become advocates of particular courses of action. it is to counsel to become as sensitive as possible to the differing presumptions in the minds of users of information analysis.
"If analysts -information gatherers- see that there's a cliff on one side of the road, it's their duty to warn the people who are driving the bus."
- Robert Bowie, former overseer of CIA's analysts and before that an assistant secretary of state for policy planning
action judgments also fall into two broad categories. they answer one of two questions- what to do? And what to do? in other words, what strategy or broad course of action is appropriate, given the mix of reality and value judgments, and what tactics, or specific actions, could implement a strategy? there are at least five levels of disaggregation for these choices, applicable to both categories of action judgments, though in differing degrees.
first comes definition of the operational objective. though an individual or organization or government may have general objectives such as security or prosperity, an action judgment should include a definition of a measurably attainable objective.
second, an action judgment depends on some type of theory as to how the operational objective can be attained.
thirdly, an action judgment involves some type of plan that applies the theory to the particular case. the fourth and fifth considerations are resources and implementation. Are the necessary resources available? Can the plan actually be carried out?
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