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IV. Synthesis

Synthesis Designing Alternatives Specifying Objectives Modeling Effects Synthesis, the final stage in CRAFT's risk assessment process, involves distilling the results of the previous steps of designing and modeling alternatives into a succinct, coherent summary. Synthesis provides crucial support to one or more decision makers whose task it is to determine a preferred alternative and effectively communicate the rationale behind the decision.

The overarching goal of synthesis is to enhance decision quality. That is, regardless of the eventual outcome (which is uncertain), does the decision reflect due consideration of all relevant information and values available at the time of the decision? The focus of Synthesis is less on what may happen in the future, than on what differential effect each alternative might have vis-à-vis all others considered.

The objectives of Synthesis are to:

  • Summarize the projected effects of the alternatives
  • Highlight differences among alternatives
  • Characterize risks and tradeoffs inherent in decision options
  • Support risk communication



In the course of modeling the effects of the alternatives, you either created multiple tables, graphs, and maps, or you developed the potential for generating these products. The first step in Synthesis is to organize and summarize the result of the effects analysis. This summarization will allow more targeted comparison of alternatives. In later steps, you will produce graphical and tabular displays of the differential effects identified for each alternative. You also will want to highlight key uncertainties and sensitivities that might affect the quality of the decision, and contrast these uncertainties with those that directly affect outcomes.

In completing a synthesis, you should perform the following tasks. Further details can be found by following the embedded links to background material.

  • Identify scenarios, then describe effects in terms of alternatives and scenarios.
  • Identify commonalities and differential effects (risks or potential benefits) specific to each alternative.
  • Rank alternatives.
  • Identify sensitivities of rankings to assumptions and uncertainties.
  • Identify additional mitigation, enhancements, contingencies, or other final modifications that might strengthen or clarify the alternatives.
  • Select a preferred alternative.


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