Situational Awareness

Summary: We look at why companies undertake Situational Awareness projects, the benefits and why companies should adopt an experimental approach.

Situational Awareness: A Definition

Situational Awareness is leveraging the collective intelligence of the enterprise to maintain strategic and operational alignment, focus and awareness across the enterprise to deliver business outcomes and manage risks.

Maintaining awareness of what is happening across the enterprise is fundamental to making good decisions that result in alignment and focus at all levels within the enterprise.

Large, complex enterprises rely on essentially manual processes to make sense of their siloed data and information. To communicate and integrate this information into the management processes, it is summarised in documents, presentations, spreadsheets and then emailed or posted to the intranet, thereby exacerbating the problem of information siloes and manual management processes. This results in duplication of efforts, reduced productivity, disconnected management processes, delayed communication and the risk of errors; all leading to the real risk of bad decisions and inadequate governance.

What Are The Benefits Of Situational Awareness Projects?

How do enterprises provide managers at all levels, executives and the board with the confidence that they are truly aware and understand what has happened, is happening or what is about to happen? Achieving such awareness across the enterprise should realise benefits of:

  • Improved decision quality and risk management;
  • Strategy connected to operations to deliver better business outcomes;
  • Agility and capability to successfully manage sustained business change;
  • A more empowered workforce operating with deeper business knowledge and intelligence;
  • Decisions made at the appropriate level with minimal delay;
  • Prioritisation integrated across the enterprise;
  • Improved productivity by reducing or eliminating duplication ; and
  • Reduced waste and improved total cost of ownership of management systems.

Our experience has shown that enterprises need to first understand the true nature of management systems, use collaborative decision management systems as the model for driving change and adopt an evolutionary and experiential approach to achieving “Enterprise Awareness.

 1. Situational Awareness Frameworks Lead To Good Decisions

When you read an email, you the reader add the tone, emphasis and intent to the written word – and this does not necessarily correlate with the intent of the writer. Similarly, information used to manage the enterprise suffers from the same fate. It is therefore imperative that the context of the data and information is maintained to increase the likelihood of the manager making the correct assessment and decision.

If you were to consider the scenario where you are you are presented with 100 of pages of randomly statements and were asked to make an assessment after 5 seconds. You would be lucky to scan the first couple of pages.

Now consider a second scenario where the same information is presented in a SWOT analysis framework. Instantly you can make an assessment – this is an enterprise with limited understanding of the external environment. It appears to be struggling with internal problems. Reading the first opportunity and you’re excited!

The SWOT analysis represents some key principles applicable to decision making frameworks. Decision frameworks:

  • Can be communicated and shared across the enterprise to enable shared understanding;
  • Add context to help ensure consistency in how the information and data are interpreted;
  • Generate new insights; and
  • Represent an enterprise’s own unique language and illustrate how the enterprise thinks.

Our observation of enterprises is that the decision management frameworks are not generally understood across the enterprise; they are not integrated nor are they particularly clear. Manual effort is therefore required to bring together information, validate relationships to then make decisions. Where time or resources don’t allow this, assumptions are made.

2. Improve Management Control And Enterprise Awareness

Since 2009, Gartner has articulated a paradigm shift in BI by describing new style of decision support system involving collaborative decision making (CDM). According to Gartner, CDM combines “social software with BI platform capabilities to bring decision makers together to discuss an issue, brainstorm options, evaluate the pros and cons, and agree on a course of action”.

Our experience in designing and implementing such collaborative decision making, or better still, management systems, is that they integrate a range of capabilities in people, systems, processes and information that address the requirements that flow from understanding the nature of management systems, as they are executed by knowledge workers.

We have found, as illustrated in Figure 1: CDM presents an integrated set of capabilities.  CDM solutions provide tangible means to demonstrate how to improve alignment, focus and enterprise awareness.

CDM presents an integrated set of capabilities

Figure 1: CDM presents an integrated set of capabilities

CDM solutions provide the means to:

  • Actively manage decisions so that they are traceable to policy and priority guidance from superior management systems; they influence decision making within sub-ordinate management systems;
  • Enable connected management systems (at all levels) that allows the enterprise to address the complexity of the enterprise and environment in which they operate;
  • Design and integrate comprehensive and flexible decision making frameworks as an active part of the management system;
  • Provide the decision making context in which the output of analytic processes is appropriately interpreted and actioned;
  • Create a collaborative environment to promote the benefits of leveraging the collective intelligence of the community involved in managing the enterprise;
  • Integrate accountability and information management frameworks as part of CDM solution; and
  • Provide a transparent and visible means through which to lead and manage the enterprise.

 3. Adopt An Experiential Approach To Achieving “Enterprise Awareness”

 We recommend that enterprises adopt an experiential and evolutionary approach to improving the management systems to achieve improved “Enterprise Awareness”. Our experience has shown that enterprises need to learn about their CDM requirements, and these change as their understanding and the CDM solutions evolve.

It is important to note that implementing a CDM solution to improve Enterprise Awareness, as with other decision support solutions, is not just an IT project. All five dimensions of the CDM capabilities as illustrated in Figure 1: CDM presents an integrated set of capabilities, need to be considered in developing an implementation strategy.

How Optimation Delivers Enterprise Awareness

Optimation’s framework for enterprise awareness brings together our deep capabilities and experience in enabling better decision making with advanced tools and technologies to deliver rapid innovation and sustained business improvement.

Our approach is to enable you to experience the output of the consulting process, not just read about it. We adopt a design led approach, as illustrated in Figure 2: Approach to delivering CDM Solutions, to define the solution vision and decision framework needed to achieve enterprise awareness across or within a part of your enterprise. Leveraging the configurable ThoughtWeb software platform we adopt a rapid prototyping approach to building maturing evolutions of collaborative decision management capability that tests and adjusts the solution vision and decision framework. This design led approach then helps to inform and prioritise how what information and analytics are needed. The experiential approach to designing the solution helps to inform the change strategies required to support fact based and transparent decision management.

Approach to delivering CDM Solutions

Figure 2: Approach to delivering CDM Solutions

Our capabilities

Our consulting and implementation capabilities include:

  • Using our approach to enable disruptive innovation in the governance and management of the enterprise
  • Designing and implementing solutions that enable integrated management control across the organisation
  • Developing change strategies that acknowledge the requirements to leverage the collective intelligence of the enterprise and deal with transparency of accountability, decision outcomes and transparency
  • Design led thinking that leverages expertise in cognitive decision support, decision frameworks and collaborative decision management
  • Integrating information strategies and analytics capabilities to support achieving enterprise awareness
  • Developing a strategy execution framework to align strategy with operational activities and deliverables
  • Data aggregation, integration, and visualisation
  • Selection, implementation and integration of technologies to provide real time analysis of operational interdependencies; outcomes, capabilities, resources, and risks; that provides a single source of truth and true enterprise awareness 

Smart enabling technologies

We are experienced in designing, integrating and implementing the use of lead technologies to support enterprise awareness, for example;

  • ThoughtWeb to deliver an aggregated, consolidated view of enterprise data and enable collaborative decision management
  • SmartLogic Semaphore - semantic search, metadata classification and content intelligence delivering significant productivity and cost benefits
  • Google Geospatial - enable discovery, integration and visualisation of location-based data to enrich business insights
  • Google Enterprise Search to integrate information search and discovery across all your enterprise platforms and repositories

Examples of Our work

Royal Australian Air Force

Air Command Capability Framework

In support of the Air Commander of Australia's vision to improve the integrated management of Air Command within the Royal Australian Air Force, the production solution of the "Air Command Capability Framework" (ACCF) solution provides decision support and a management environment to support the Air Commander and his leadership team, align their collective efforts to deliver the required Air Force Outputs, to the required performance levels and with acceptable levels of risk. ACCF aims to bring greater agility, speed, precision and confidence in decision-making.  This solution forms part of a broader, federated, Air Force and Defence Enterprise Decision Management capability.

Air Force Program View

In response to Air Force’s need to effectively manage the risks involved in simultaneously managing the introduction of new capability whilst retiring associated existing capability, AF Program View provides the means for Air Force management Capability Transition Teams to more effectively manage the capability interdependencies within the context of Air Force’s strategic capability plan and Defence's strategic risks. This positions Air Force to maintain shared knowledge of a complex set of factors so as to allow more time to be proactive in the strategies and actions it implements to mitigate capability transition risks. This solution forms part of a broader, federated, Air Force and Defence Enterprise Decision Management capability.

Navy and Defence Materiel Organisation

In response to an apparent, and real, lack of sharing of information between the Navy and the Defence Material Organisation (DMO) contributing to the unavailability of key Naval assets at a time of crisis, the production solution of the "Interdependent mission management system" (IMMS) is part of overall Defence solution to enable joint partnering and the management of interdependent enterprise risks. It provides visibility to blind spots, accountability and activity. It has enabled the proactive identification and management of risks. This has led to improved understanding of the business, reduced lead times to treat risks and a positive change in attitudes towards providing visibility, the management of risks and in developing mutual trust.


Vice-Chief of Defence Force Group

Strategic Battlespace Management

In support of the need to gain situation awareness of the strategic battlespace, the pilot solution of Strategic Battlespace Management (STRATBM) was developed as a command decision aid to elevate the strategic perspective and provide a consistent process through which to gain shared situation awareness across the community supporting the Chief of Defence Force and Secretary of Defence. This has contributed to aligning strategic management plans, analytical frameworks and is positioned to provide direction and prioritisation across Defence's business model.


Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC)

JOConnect-Business Management

In response to Chief Joint Operations (CJOPS) need to improve the organisational management capability across the enterprise and mitigate against the risk of the loss of organisational knowledge from frequent rotations, the production solution of the JOConnect- Business Management, provides an integrated management framework through which CJOPS and his Principal Staff officers can manage the delivery of HQJOC Outputs. JOConnect- Business Management forms part of a broader HQJOC Decision Management Solution - JOConnect, providing improved situation awareness, improved knowledge retention and improved decision making, whilst demonstrating and reporting on alignment to the Defence Annual Plan and Portfolio Budget Statements.


In support of Headquarters Joint Operations Command’s (HQJOC) role in coordinating the operational execution of Defence Activities to support the implementation of Defence's Military Strategy and mitigation of Strategic Risks, the pilot solution of the JOConnect-Campaigning provides a shared framework and environment through which this coordination and assessment of outcomes can be performed within the context of a Regional Campaign Plan. Ultimately improved coordination will lead to improved decision making that will result in improved design and timing of Activities leading to a better chance of realising desired effects. This solution forms part of a broader HQJOC Decision Management Solution - JOConnect. This solution is in the process of being delivered into production. 


Australian Army

Army-SMART Land

In support of Army's need, as Lead Capability Manager, to more effectively manage the materiel dependencies across all three Services and a large number of maintenance and supply contracts, the pilot solution of the SMART-Land solution provides Army, Navy, Air Force and DMO with a shared framework and environment through which all aspects of managing the contracts’ performance and risk can be done in a transparent and integrated manner. This leads to improved and shared understanding of the interdependencies, risks and opportunities, thereby positioning this community to make better decisions in a more timely manner, leading to potential cost savings in supply and maintenance.

If you would like to discuss your Situational Awareness project, please get in touch.

Case Study

Australian Department of Defence