This course includes five lessons, which you can access flexibly. You're free to go at your own pace. The content has been designed so that you can dip into individual lessons which typically take 30-45 minutes if you complete all the content and reflective activities.

The full course provides comprehensive learning on the theme which equates to the content covered on a one-day face-to-face course. We therefore believe this can play a significant part in your professional development journey.

You may choose to complete this course all by yourself. But, you’ll get more out of the learning with some support. So, speak to your manager, coach or mentor to help you decide the best way forward. You could review the learning at the same time as a few colleagues, for instance. This will allow you to share your different thoughts and opinions.

Remember, you're also part of our wider community, with its vast range of experience. So, complete the reflective activities and get involved in the community discussions. Share your unique perspective. We are all there to support each other.

In essence, what matters is that you get as much out of the learning as you can. Take your time to reflect on and apply the key messages in your context. Watch the videos more than once, if possible, and make notes in the downloadable workbook as you go along. Before you know it, you'll put the learning into practice and making a real impact in your role.

Mapping to the standards

This course maps to the Chartered level of the Situational decision-making standards. If you just want to gain an introduction to these standards at the Foundation level we recommend that you watch the video below.

This short, animated video provides an overview of the key elements of this core behaviour. It brings to life the three statements at Foundation level for Situational decision-making in the CIPD Profession Map:

  • Apply agreed procedures and policies and available sources of evidence to make choices
  • Seek to understand the outcomes of your actions
  • Be open to new information and changing circumstances
Play Video
Situational decision making - course overview


Denise is an L&D specialist working for a local government authority.

The head of L&D has asked for a review of all current training programmes in order that efficiencies can be made to respond to significant budget cuts, a procedure which applies across all departments.

Denise has been tasked with reviewing the training provided to the authority’s 100 or so Parking Enforcement Officers or 'PEOs' to help them create a more positive impression when working with the public, particularly in stressful situations.

She speaks to the instructors of the current face-to-face programme and analyses the available financial data and feedback. She also talks to those responsible for providing similar training in other authorities.

Importantly, she also surveys the existing team of PEOs to find out what challenges they faced when learning the job. A key policy is that all staff must have equal access to learning, so Denise’s solution must achieve this.

And finally, she meets with the learning technologist to see what technology options might be available now and in the future.

With this information, she explores her available options and submits a formal proposal as part of the authority-wide budgeting process. She suggests a blended programme incorporating some face-to-face training, resources provided by smart phone and on-going coaching.

Situational decision-making means applying agreed procedures and policies and available sources of evidence to make choices.

Denise has approached this task systematically, and familiarised herself with the policies of her employer, making sure she thoroughly understands the situation and has explored all the available data.

Denise is pleased to find that her proposal’s accepted. The proposal promises a major reduction in cost, she believes it will also improve outcomes from the programme and ensure policies are met by using more modern, flexible approaches. All the PEOs have a personal smart device which can be used for the online learning elements.

She establishes several measures that she can use to evaluate success, including cost per trainee, time to competence, and feedback on the overall digital experience she has developed from both the trainees and their supervisors.

Situational decision-making means seeking to understand the outcomes of your actions.

Denise cannot simply implement a change and then walk away from it. Rightly, she’s established the means to check how well the solution is working out in practice.

Denise puts together a dashboard to allow her to check every month how well the new training programme is performing.

She engages with networks of learning professionals looking at technological developments and new research into the science of learning. She realises that some of the video content is too long, and she has not adequately considered measuring the impact on performance, for example, a drop in the number of customer complaints. She is also able to contribute her own experience and expertise to support others.

She then holds quarterly meetings with the supervisors when they can all review the data and explore the options for improvements to the programme.

In the early days, they had to be flexible to deal with technical snags and poor network coverage in some parts of their region. For example, some PEOs needed to download videos to their devices at the beginning of a shift to watch later while out at work. They quickly resolved these as well as making a number of enhancements based on ideas coming from the PEOs, these included a Frequently Asked Questions area they could contribute to and, optional audio downloads as well as video.

Situational decision-making means being open to new information and changing circumstances.

It's very unlikely that any decision is going to produce perfect results from the start, nor that it will continue to be the right decision for ever after.

Situational decision-making requires us to be agile and alert in the face of rapidly changing circumstances, threats and opportunities.

Learning objectives

This course will help you to build your confidence and practice in:

  • making well-judged decisions by considering all available evidence in the context of the specific situation

  • considering different options and making decisions by balancing opportunity, risk and alignment to professional values

  • demonstrating commitment to evaluating the outcome and impact of your decisions to inform your future approach

  • adapting your decisions and practices to take account of changes to the business environment


You need to be a CIPD member and logged into the website to access each of the lessons.

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Download the course workbook

This interactive workbook will help you to make the most out of the course. Use the workbook to reflect on your learning and record your notes as you go along.