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Composing a backgrounder for a Decision Analysis

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Composing a backgrounder.

This is an elaboration of the Background section in the Decision Analysis unit. This section provides the historical information that is pertinent to the making of the decision.

It would contain such things as relevant events from the past, suspected causes leading to the current situation, previous solutions for the same or similar problems, identification of people associated with this problem or opportunity and other pre-existing conditions. If appropriate, include such things as a review of industry trends, technological developments or regulatory changes.

Excerpt from the Decision Analysis unit:


This section is included whenever some decision-makers are not completely familiar with preceding or existing conditions relevant to the decision.

Items in this section may generate more ideas for the other sections. For this reason alone it should not be omitted.

The key word for the background is BREVITY.

Depending on the scope of the analysis the content, the section could be skipped and blended with the Situation Description. When it is included, be careful not to mix historical information with the current description of the situation. You may chose to include events leading to the facts stated in the Situation Description. If these are extensive, you may list the topics here and refer to more complete text in an appendix.

If the decision maker(s) are familiar with the background, list in outline form as a reminder.

Stakeholders and their levels of interest can be listed here. How will they be impacted by the recommended action?

Your checklist questions

  • Does it provide sufficient information to solve the problem (probortunity) and no more?
  • Does it satisfy the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when and why?
  • Is the information (dates, amounts, event, etc.) verified as accurate? If not, is that so stated?
  • Are opinions and assumptions stated as such? Who made the assumptions?
  • Is there a reference to documents in the appendix?

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