Brief updates from Austhink Consulting




June 2014

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Elite Decision Teams in AFL
How can a team of elite coaches become an elite team - particularly as regards their decision making? This was the central thread in a just-completed engagement with one of the leading AFL teams. It involved very close observation of elite coaches at work, analysing how they actually make decisions and what problems arise. We ended making twenty recommendations covering areas such how they make deliberative decisions, their use of data and analytics, and how their meetings are managed. While AFL coaching is a unique domain presenting some special challenges, we also found that it has much in common with high-level, high-pressure decision making in many other arenas. 
Using Bayesian tools to make better medical decisions 
One of our interests over the past year has been how Bayes' Theorem can be turned into a genuinely useful tool for ordinary people to handle real world problems involving evaluation of multiple hypothesis in relation to complex bodies of evidence. In June we had an opportunity to field-test some of these emerging ideas, running a workshop at Lindenderry for the leading melanoma and breast cancer team from the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre. To make proceedings even more interesting, we used as a case study the debate over who really wrote the works of William Shakespeare - truly a conundrum for the ages. 
Simple Bayesian Calculator available online
As part of our work on Bayesian inference, we developed a simple Bayesian calculator, which can be used to calculate how confidence in an hypothesis should change given an a new piece of evidence. A related tool, not yet ready for public release, handles multiple hypotheses and multiple independent pieces of evidence, allowing any user to set up for themselves a Bayesian framework for their particular problem. 
The 'Islamophobia' thing and freedom of speech
Paul had an op ed on Friday 27 June in The Age taking issue with Simon Longstaff and the St James Ethics Centre on whether we really need to have a public debate about the proposition that 'honour killings' are morally justified. There are some serious debates we need to have, including about Islam. This is surely not one of them. 
Robert Gates praises a most deliberative President
In the April issues of the Australia Israel Review, Paul had a review essay reflecting on the memoirs of US Defence Secretary and former Director of the CIA, Robert Gates. One of the most striking things about the memoir was that Gates, a Republican, gave such high praise to Barack Obama. He described him as the most deliberative president under whom he had served (there have been seven) and as a person of great personal integrity. A longer version was published in Quadrant in May.
Who's the fairest of them all?
Finally we note (against Paul's protestations) that Bob Carr, in his recent book Diary of a Foreign Minister, wrote "Paul Monk, I think, is one of Australia’s best intellectuals – no, the best." 
Austhinking previous editions: 
  • March 2014 - Analytics, Major Bids, and Going Nuclear
  • December 2013 - Habits of Highly Critical Thinkers, JFK, and Superminds
  • October 2013 - Eavesdropping, Intelligence Amplification, and Reality Tours
  • September 2013 - Policy, Business, Law, and Evangelical Atheism
  • July 2013 - Election Forum, China, Jews and Jesus
  • June 2013 - Elections, Predictions, Spies and Shakespeare
  • May 2013 - Meta-analysis, Mapping and Democracy
  • April 2013 - Collective Knowledge, Rise of China, Intelligence, and a Puzzler
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