What is OA?

Option Awareness is a person’s deep understanding of their options — including how those options perform over time and under different circumstances. In dynamic and complex decision environments, decision makers need both situation awareness and option awareness to develop and select the best options.

There are two types of knowledge needed to make decisions. These are Situation Awareness (SA), knowledge of what’s going on, and Option Awareness (OA), knowledge of what to do about it.

Decision makers need both SA and OA to make high-quality decisions.

Decision maker’s head with two thought bubbles — one for Situation Awareness and one for Option Awareness

Situation Awareness (SA)

is knowledge of what’s going on.

SA is about now.

Originated by Endsley, 1995

Option Awareness (OA)

is knowledge of what to do about it.

OA is about the future.

Situation data provided by sensors, databases, and humans is presented in situation space visualizations.
SA relies on senses and sensors to collect data, then mental or computational capabilities to detect patterns in this data, to figure out what’s going on. The situation can be presented in a situation space visualization — such as maps, charts, tables, and gauges — that support the decision maker’s knowledge of what’s going on.
Option data provided by Synergy Search, exploratory modeling, and other data sources is presented in a decision space visualizations.
OA goes beyond SA by supporting knowledge of what to do about the situation. OA support leverages exploratory forecasting models, detects and exploits resource synergies, and layers in relevant option data like decision criteria, tradeoffs, and tipping points. These are presented in interactive decision space visualizations (DSVs) that help decision makers find the best options quickly and confidently.

Levels of Awareness

SA and OA both have three conceptual levels. Each level increases the decision maker’s awareness.

Levels of SA

1. Perception: What’s going on?​ A landscape of data points
2. Comprehension: What matters about what’s going on? Callouts on a data point highlight key information about it
3. Projection: Based on what’s going on, what will happen next? A data point on a trend line that projects its future trajectory

Levels of OA

A balance scale, tipped to one side as a decision maker weighs their options 1. Comparison: What’s the relative desirability of my available options over the plausible range of potential futures?
Each side of the balance scale contains a jumble of different shapes. Based on the type of shape, arrows branch to different outcomes, including positive, mediocre and shocking outcomes. 2. Discrimination: What are the underlying factors, trade-offs, and tipping points influencing the desirability of those options? What are the conditions under which those options lead to more and less desirable outcomes?
The square shapes, which previously led to worse outcomes, being enhanced by Synergy Search lightning bolts, to eliminate their weaknesses and lead to positive outcomes. 3. Enhancement: Based on what I now know about the factors influencing my options, what else can I do to produce even better options?

© The MITRE Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Approved for Public Release; distribution unlimited; case #20-03307-1.

Night vision goggles with the letters OA alternating with data visualizations

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