TDODAR Decision Model In A Nutshell

  • The TDODAR decision model facilitates good decision making in emergencies or similar high-stress, time-sensitive situations.
  • The TDODAR decision model is based on a sequential six-step process that defines the TDODAR acronym: time, diagnosis, options, decide, act, and review.
  • Using the TDODAR decision model effectively means ensuring the problem has a high degree of associated uncertainty. Decision teams should also be concise and avoid subjectivity creeping into discussions.

The TDODAR decision model helps an individual make good decisions in emergencies or any scenario with a high degree of uncertainty. TDODAR is an acronym of the six sequential steps that every practitioner must follow, comprising: time, diagnosis, options, decide, act/assign, review.

Understanding the TDODAR decision model

The TDODAR decision model is traditionally associated with the aviation industry. 

During a flight, pilots are required to make informed decisions in what is a very high-stakes environment. But decision making can be influenced by many factors, including stress, spatial disorientation, or simply a lack of experience or knowledge. Pilots use the methodical nature of the TDODAR model to consider all options before ultimately deciding on a course of action.

The model also has applications in most other industries, particularly if a clear plan of action is not immediately apparent. This helps businesses avoid making rushed or incorrect decisions that are not in their best interests.

The TDODAR decision model process

TDODAR is an acronym of the six sequential steps that every practitioner must follow.

Following is a look at each of the steps:

  1. T (Time) – how much time is available to make the decision? It’s important to be thorough on this initial step because it will affect how the following steps are performed. Every person who is involved in a decision should be aware of time constraints.
  2. D (Diagnosis) – to accurately diagnose the problem and its causes, gather data, and consult a wide range of relevant expertise. The 5 Whys technique can be used for moderately difficult problems. For complex problems, try the Cause and Effect Analysis. Avoid confirmation bias and be on the lookout for groupthink, where people in a group choose not to voice their concerns to facilitate group consensus.
  3. O (Options) – in terms of solving the problem, what are the options? Some options are more feasible and intuitive than others. But when a solution is not immediately apparent, it is helpful to brainstorm ideas.
  4. D (Decide) – given the information gleaned in the first three steps, a senior individual must make the most sensible decision. In high-pressure situations, it is wise to include others in the decision-making process to avoid judgment errors and biases.
  5. A (Act/Assign) – who will act on the solution? Once this has been determined, roles and responsibilities must be assigned. During a commercial flight, the pilot and first-officer share responsibilities but have clearly defined roles. In a business scenario, a decision-maker may act on the solution or delegate responsibility to subordinates.
  6. R (Review) – in the final step, the efficacy of the solution must be analyzed. Has it solved the problem? Have the desired results materialized? If the problem becomes recurrent or worsens over time then decision-makers must reassess previously discarded solutions. In some cases, they may have to perform a new TDODAR analysis.

TDODAR decision model best practices

Use these best practices to get the most out of the TDODAR decision model:

  • Consider whether the problem has a high level of uncertainty or time pressure before beginning. If the problem cannot satisfy either of these criteria, then the effectiveness of the model is limited.
  • Run through each step sequentially – resist the urge to complete more than one at a time.
  • Be concise when stating thoughts and facts, particularly if time is at a premium.
  • Collaboration with others can be beneficial if there is time to do so. The discussion should always remain objective and free of emotion or personal agendas. If there is a disagreement on the choice of solution, move forward with the most conservative option.

Key takeaways:

  • Overview of TDODAR:
    • TDODAR is a decision-making model used in high-stress or uncertain situations, originating from the aviation industry.
    • It stands for Time, Diagnosis, Options, Decide, Act/Assign, and Review, representing the sequential steps to follow.
  • Applicability Beyond Aviation:
    • While rooted in aviation, the TDODAR model is applicable in various industries where quick and informed decisions are crucial.
    • It helps prevent rushed or incorrect decisions by providing a systematic approach.
  • Steps of the TDODAR Model:
    • Time (T): Evaluate the available time to make the decision, as it impacts the subsequent steps.
    • Diagnosis (D): Gather data, consult experts, and accurately diagnose the problem’s causes.
    • Options (O): Generate potential solutions or options to address the problem.
    • Decide (D): A senior individual evaluates the gathered information and makes a sound decision, potentially involving others to mitigate biases.
    • Act/Assign (A): Determine who will implement the chosen solution and assign roles and responsibilities.
    • Review (R): Analyze the effectiveness of the solution, assess its impact, and consider recurring or worsening problems.
  • Best Practices for TDODAR:
    • High Uncertainty or Time Pressure: Apply TDODAR when facing situations with significant uncertainty or time constraints.
    • Sequential Process: Follow the steps sequentially and avoid completing multiple steps simultaneously.
    • Concise Communication: Be concise when conveying thoughts and facts, especially in time-sensitive scenarios.
    • Collaboration and Objectivity: Collaborate with others when time allows, ensuring discussions are objective and devoid of personal biases.
    • Conservative Approach: In disagreements, opt for the most conservative solution to ensure effective action.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • TDODAR aids decision making in high-stress or uncertain scenarios.
    • The model follows a structured six-step process: Time, Diagnosis, Options, Decide, Act/Assign, and Review.
    • Effective TDODAR use involves evaluating uncertainty, maintaining objectivity, and employing collaboration when possible.

Connected Decision-Making Frameworks


Simon’s satisficing strategy is a decision-making technique where the individual considers various solutions until they find an acceptable option. Satisficing is a portmanteau combining sufficing and satisfying and was created by psychologist Herbert A. Simon. He argued that many individuals make decisions with a satisfactory (and not optimal) solution. Satisfactory decisions are preferred because they achieve an acceptable result and avoid the resource-intensive search for something more optimal.

RAPID Framework

The RAPID framework is a tool used to help businesses make important decisions. The RAPID framework was developed by global consultancy firm Bain & Company, which noted that “high-quality decision making and strong performance go hand in hand.”

Foursquare Protocol

The Foursquare Protocol is an ethical decision-making model. The Foursquare Protocol helps businesses respond to challenging situations by making decisions according to a code of ethics. It can also be used to help individuals make decisions in the context of their own moral principles. It consists of four steps: gather the facts, understand previous decisions, assess the degree of similarity to past events, and assess yourself.

DACI Decision-Making

The DACI Decision-Making Framework was developed by software company Intuit in the 1980s. The DACI Decision-Making Framework assigns and then displays the responsibilities of the individual when making decision. DACI stands for driver, approver, contributor, and informed.

Lightning Decision Jam

The Lightning Decision Jam
The Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ) is a means of making fast decisions that provide quick direction. The Lightning Decision Jam was developed by design agency AJ&Smart in response to the inefficiency of business meetings. Borrowing ideas from the core principles of design sprints, AJ&Smart created the Lightning Decision Jam.

Multi-Criteria Analysis

The multi-criteria analysis provides a systematic approach for ranking adaptation options against multiple decision criteria. These criteria are weighted to reflect their importance relative to other criteria. A multi-criteria analysis (MCA) is a decision-making framework suited to solving problems with many alternative courses of action.

Cynefin Framework

The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains and disorder if a domain has not been determined at all.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

Personal SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Pareto Analysis

The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.

Failure Mode And Effects Analysis

A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach to identifying design failures in a product or process. Developed in the 1950s, the failure mode and effects analysis is one the earliest methodologies of its kind. It enables organizations to anticipate a range of potential failures during the design stage.

Blindspot Analysis

A Blindspot Analysis is a means of unearthing incorrect or outdated assumptions that can harm decision making in an organization. The term “blindspot analysis” was first coined by American economist Michael Porter. Porter argued that in business, outdated ideas or strategies had the potential to stifle modern ideas and prevent them from succeeding. Furthermore, decisions a business thought were made with care caused projects to fail because major factors had not been duly considered.

Comparable Company Analysis

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

SOAR Analysis

A SOAR analysis is a technique that helps businesses at a strategic planning level to: Focus on what they are doing right. Determine which skills could be enhanced. Understand the desires and motivations of their stakeholders.

STEEPLE Analysis

The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Pestel Analysis

The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

DESTEP Analysis

A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

Paired Comparison Analysis

A paired comparison analysis is used to rate or rank options where evaluation criteria are subjective by nature. The analysis is particularly useful when there is a lack of clear priorities or objective data to base decisions on. A paired comparison analysis evaluates a range of options by comparing them against each other.

Hickam’s Dictum

Hickam’s dictum is the counterargument to Occam’s razor. Whereas Occam’s razor is a heuristic that tends to narrow down decision-making to the simplest variables, Hickam’s dictum believes a situation must be tackled by looking at multiple variables.

Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor states that one should not increase (beyond reason) the number of entities required to explain anything. All things being equal, the simplest solution is often the best one. The principle is attributed to 14th-century English theologian William of Ockham.

Occam’s Broom

Occam’s broom was first proposed by South African microbiologist Sidney Brenner who proposed that inconvenient facts that do not fit into someone’s hypothesis or serve their agenda are swept aside or hidden. Occam’s broom is a principle stating that inconvenient facts are hidden or obscured to draw important conclusions or argue points.

Outcome Bias

Outcome bias describes a tendency to evaluate a decision based on its outcome and not on the process by which the decision was reached. In other words, the quality of a decision is only determined once the outcome is known. Outcome bias occurs when a decision is based on the outcome of previous events without regard for how those events developed.

Principle-Agent Problem

The theory behind the principle-agent problem was developed by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Jensen and economist and management professor William H. Meckling. The principle-agent problem describes a conflict in priorities between a person or group and the representative authorized to make decisions on their behalf.

TDODAR Decision Model

The TDODAR decision model helps an individual make good decisions in emergencies or any scenario with a high degree of uncertainty. TDODAR is an acronym of the six sequential steps that every practitioner must follow, comprising: time, diagnosis, options, decide, act/assign, review.

Mendelow Stakeholder Matrix

The Mendelow stakeholder matrix is a framework used to analyze stakeholder attitudes and expectations and their potential impact on business decisions.

Foursquare Protocol

The Foursquare Protocol is an ethical decision-making model. The Foursquare Protocol helps businesses respond to challenging situations by making decisions according to a code of ethics. It can also be used to help individuals make decisions in the context of their own moral principles. It consists of four steps: gather the facts, understand previous decisions, assess the degree of similarity to past events, and assess yourself.

Go/No-Go Decision Making

In general, terms, go/no-go decision making is a process of passing or failing a proposition. Each proposition is assessed according to criteria that determine whether a project advances to the next stage. The outcome of the go/no-go decision making is to assess whether to go or not to go with a project, or perhaps proceed with caveats.


The OODA loop was popularized by U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Colonel John Boyd to describe maneuver warfare during the Korean War. The OODA loop is a four-step approach to decision making where strategies must be adjusted quickly. Those four steps comprise observe, orient, decide, and act.

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