DODAR (or DORDAR) is an acronym for decision making.
D – Diagnose (what is the problem)
O – Options (hold, divert, immediate landing etc.)
D – Decide (which option)
A – Act or Assign (carry out selected option and assign tasks)
R – Review (can involve addition of new information, and/or the ongoing result(s) of selected option)
The additional R used by some organisations stands for Risk benefits. This would normally be included in options.
DODAR is one of many primary decision making tools and can be represented as a circular flow, as the last step involves reviewing which may entail starting the process again. It covers the five main areas of decision making.
Diagnose is the first step to solve a problem or make a decision. It is necessary to find out what is wrong and if possible what causes it. Often an aircraft’s computers (EICAS – Boeing, ECAM – Airbus) will diagnose the fault but it is important to confirm and to avoid “confirmation bias”. It is not desirable to shut down the wrong engine or command and irreversible switch. The Diagnose stage involves determining and confirming the problem.
Options is determining what choices you have given the problem and circumstances. Not all faults are urgent or require immediate action. If action is required, such as a diversion there may be choices in airfields such as one where there is engineering or company support, length of runway given the fault etc.
Decide is choosing the best option available to you. In a modern cockpit environment this should be discussed with both crew members.
Act/Assign is to carry out the appropriate action and to assign tasks to people who are to carry them out.
Reviewing is possibly the most important stage and is a constant process, not solely when the actions are complete. It is needed to ensure that everything is proceeding according to plan, and the expected safe outcome is likely. If this is not the case the process can be started again to diagnose what has changed or what is not working and then adapt as necessary.
DODAR can be overlooked as it seems too obvious but the intuitive aspect of it makes it a successful tool to be used in problem solving, especially with modern CRM.