DSI History

Who Is Decision Systems, Inc.?

As you explore the sources of root cause analysis systems, one of your important considerations will be the question, “With whom are we dealing?” That is the subject of these comments; so let’s go back to the beginnings of the REASON Concept and Decision Systems, Inc. (DSI).

Based upon the conceptual insights of Charles W. Jones and with the cooperation of numerous Texas organizations whose operations provided real-world laboratories for the application of the REASON process, an intensive validation project began in the early 1980’s. REASON was placed in numerous environments: i.e. oil drilling locations, on construction sites, in steel mills, in dust-free computer chip manufacturing rooms, steel fabrication, operations, maintenance, finance and purchasing departments.

After several years of real-world development and testing in dozens of organizations across Texas, REASON was ready. Decision Systems, Inc. was incorporated in 1986 as a Texas Corporation. Our early avenues to the marketplace included Ross Perot’s EDS, Perot Systems, and The National Safety Council. Early clients included deployment at DOE nuclear waste sites, Naval Shipyards, Nav-Air, Edwards and Johnson Space Centers, and many other national and global corporations with critical and hazardous operations, like offshore drilling and aerospace. In those early days, we found that when an operation needed the right answer immediately . . . and the first time, Decision Systems found a home for its objective problem solving system.

During this period, DSI did a lot of high demand consulting work with REASON for several organizations on critical issue events. For example, DSI and REASON were the coordinating hub of the U.S. Department of Energy investigation and analysis of the 2003 Electric Grid Blackout that darkened major population centers of two countries, with its homeland security issues. That REASON root cause analysis project involved hundreds of operations engineers and produced the largest causal model in history . . . over 5000 causal factors recorded, charted and analyzed by DSI analysts with REASON software. The resulting report was presented to the U.S. Senate, and praised for its clarity, detail, and accuracy in the Wall Street Journal.

About that same time, along came the increased international attention to operations improvement. Industry was feeling the pressure of competition. Global corporations needed systems that generated facts that could be communicated across the globe with accuracy, clarity and precise meaning. DSI went to work to simplify and create network systems that would enable companies to share and participate in analyses spanning global operations; companies like Suncor, BG Gas, Intel, and Transocean. This practical research and experience would later prove to be the ground work for the new REASON 9 web-access software and training. Many years of working with companies in that environment provided DSI with the time and experience to work through all of the important issues that come into play for a software system “in the cloud”.

A few years ago, when technology in web platforms began to hint at new Internet capabilities, it was also at a time when many global organizations had spread and diversified their operations more globally than ever before. This, and a sagging world economy drove global organizations to begin demanding more logistically-friendly, and cost effective options to roll out and maintain professional RCA system capabilities.

Internally at DSI the command came down, “back to the blackboard”. DSI and the RCA marketplace needed new RCA solution options. We transitioned back into a research mode, with a goal of creating a new RCA system that would satisfy these new demands of the marketplace. With that in mind, the four basic design criteria for a new generation of RCA system were:

  • A graphically-based, simple, and intuitive software user-interface
  • It must be easy to deploy for the client organization, without complex and expensive IT issues.
  • Must be easily accessible “In the cloud” for utility and flexibility… globally 24/7
  • Must be a cost-effective solution for the client’s deployment given today’s economic and globally diverse logistics.

We researched how individuals perceive and intuitively order data when solving a problem. We determined what were the natural and automatic patterns to the way people think. We learned that individuals tend to handle data differently if they are faced with a crisis, as opposed to taking a careful, thoughtful and measured look at details.

Perhaps most importantly, we noted that when most individuals are trying to understand why an event occurred, they just naturally try to place the causes chronologically on a time line to keep the details clear in their minds. That perception was a key answer to simplifying the REASON process for web-access usage. Several other intuitive design features like graphically representing the different types of causes with different shapes and colors were employed in the design of REASON 9, so that the mind can instantly perceive its task without conscious thought or having to read words of instruction.

We found that often a correct cause would just pop into the mind of an investigator. That was an example of the mind’s remarkable ability to sort, order and analyze facts at the unconscious level. So, we designed into REASON 9 a “parking lot” for those perceptions, so that when the investigation and analysis naturally led to that area of concern, the user could just drag the cause and drop it onto the timeline where it belonged. These and many other intuitive features made REASON 9 both easy to use and quick to learn through web-access training.

As you can see, it is not by accident that Decision Systems Inc. has remained a premier root cause analysis system for the last three decades. Indeed, most of the advances in the last 30 years in the field and science of root cause analysis have issued from the experts at Decision Systems, Inc. with the cooperation and active involvement of our clients.

That’s why we can offer you the most advanced and appropriate root cause analysis tools for the times, and support them with the available services of world-class expert analysts.