Team Decision Solutions, Inc. (TDS) was established in 2003 by Marvin Thordsen, a research professional with 20 years experience in the field of naturalistic decision making. TDS focuses on the dynamics, decision making, and cognitive challenges inherent in individuals and teams. TDS provides research and solutions to help organizations become more effective and responsive. By understanding the decisions and challenges faced in real-world environments, TDS develops decision-centered systems, training, and organizational solutions.







To enable TDS to handle projects of various size and breadth, we have established collaborative relationships with several companies who contribute areas of expertise and personnel as needed. Some companies with whom we have collaborated in the past or anticipate working with in the future are listed below:

Team Cognition, Inc. specializes in cognitive task analysis (individual and teams) and naturalistic decision making research. Team Cognition’s forte is designing organizational systems to support decision making and team performance, including communications, interface technologies, and organizational structures.  Their goal is helping organizations determine how to best utilize the strengths they currently possess and how to hurdle their weaknesses. Team Cognition brings an understanding of decision making from both team and individual perspectives and an ability to link concepts, models, and methods to solutions.

Studio 361 is a technology based company that uses the latest in interactive, visualization, and data management technology to create innovative and energetic information display, design and learning solutions. Studio 361 utilizes the extensive interactive programming, corporate and government training, cognitive psychology, engineering and design backgrounds of its staff, providing a unique, yet complete approach to developing the most effective, useable solutions possible. Their development areas fall into four primary areas: Interactive Learning, Data Management and Display, Design, and Corporate Branding

Klein Associates Inc. is a research and development company that has pioneered the study of decision making in naturalistic settings. Klein Associates has played a key role in moving decision making research out of the laboratory and into the real world where people are faced with time pressure, ambiguous and conflicting information, and rapidly changing situations.

Aptima, Inc. is a small business (currently 82 employees), founded in 1995, with offices in Woburn, MA and Washington, DC.  Aptima is an innovative multidisciplinary company, combining human performance research and assessment with mathematical modeling and technology development. Aptima has built its reputation around innovative methods for modeling and measuring performance in complex organizations.  Aptima’s core business areas include organizational modeling, model-based experimentation, quantitative performance measurement in “naturalistic” environments such as war games and simulation-based training environments, and research on team coordination and team performance.




Why are they called FAQs?
What is "decision-centered design"?
What is the most challenging issue on which you are currently working?
Why Dayton, Ohio?
TDS is a small company. How does it handle larger projects?


Why are they called FAQs? Actually, I don’t know but I assume it was an acronym some SysOp though was “cool.” The first time I saw it, I had no clue what they’re talking about. Once I learned its meaning, it made all the sense in the world. Go figure. [back to FAQ]

What is “decision-centered design?” Decision-centered design (DCD) is way of approaching the design of training, organizations, and systems that has the critical decisions and judgments the individuals must handle be the primary focus and driver behind the design. Traditionally, design tended to be “data-centered.” The design was focused on the available data and the goal was to provide as much data to the “user” was available. This frequently resulted in data overload and masking. Masking occurs when appropriate data are received but they are lost in the large amount of irrelevant data. The next variation of design was “Systems” design (not to be confused with the way TDS uses system above). In this approach, the data were semi processed and presented in ways that would help the “user” understand the state of a particular system, such as the hydraulic or fuel systems of an airplane. This was a significant step forward from data-centered design. However a drawback of System-Centered design is that most critical decisions are not single-system specific. The decisions require an understanding of multiple systems and their interactions. Decision-Centered design is meant to address the shortcomings of the two previous models. With DCD, the team, organization, and system (e.g., computer display, program, etc.) are all designed to support the critical decisions and judgments the individuals must make. For a “user,” decision-centered design feels comfortable, second nature. [back to FAQ] [top]

What is the most challenging issue on which you are currently working? By far, it is the cognitive complexity and rapid adaptability teams face when they are in environments that require a combination of “warfighting” as well as “peacekeeping” skills. Mike Paley (Aptima, Inc.) and I have been working on describing this warfighting-to-peacekeeping continuum for the last year or so. Why is it so complicated? Individuals and teams are inundated with a myriad of critical cues that are extremely difficult to interpret. To complicate matters further, there is no longer a single “mission.” It is rare that you are on an exclusively warfighting or peacekeeping mission. With the exception of the opening days of an engagement and the situations years later, they are a combination of multiple missions. Often individuals are caught up in, what we refer to as, “the fog of mission.” It is possible that a single team may never be able to be trained adequately to handle all of these types of missions. However, we have found that different nationalities do focus on training different types of mission skills. The northern Europeans tend to be very adept at information operations and the “heavier” peacekeeping missions. The U.S. is very well trained in warfighting. The southern Europeans (Italians) have extensive training and experience in “crowd control.” Their Caribinieri get first hand experience in controlling, while not aggravating, large crowds protesting any number of issues in Italy. So the challenge is to determine the nature of this continuum, the skills required for success, the training these require, and to capitalize on the national training that already exist. [back to FAQ] [top]

Why Dayton, Ohio? Well, since we fly to nearly every part of the well as Europe, where we live does not seem to make too much of a difference. If we were on the West Coast, it would be a longer flight to Boston and vice versa. As it is, since we get to travel, living in Ohio isn’t too bad. Good cost of living. Airports are convenient and easy to get in and out of and traffic is good. It is also a great place for Marvin to root for what has traditionally been one of the worst football teams in the NFL (the Cincinnati Bengals). [back to FAQ] [top]

TDS is a small company. How does it handle larger projects? TDS has established informal alliances with several other companies. These alliances serve as a source of additional personnel and areas of expertise when needed. More information on these alliances is available under “Relationships” in this section of the web site (“About Us”). [back to FAQ] [top]


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© Marv Thordsen, 2004