The Founders Series

Welcome to the Founders Series.


Listen to our conversations with Decision Science pioneers who created and spread radical decision thinking into a variety of fields.

Their work has impacted people’s lives through powerful decision making in the areas of Decision Analysis, ethics, innovation, and personal decisions and provided a deeper understanding of our brain’s decision systems.


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Ron Howard

Professor Emeritus
Stanford University

Part 1: Put your faith in the right person Part 2: Building your own ethical code and more

Watch Interview Part 1 with Ron Howard - click here

Watch Interview Part 2 with Ron Howard - click here

Learn More About This Founder

Upon his retirement in 2018, Prof. Howard became Prof. Emeritus of the Department of Management Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, Stanford University, where he directed teaching and research in the Decision Analysis Program.  He was also the Director of the Department’s Decisions and Ethics Center, which examined the efficacy and ethics of social arrangements. 

He defined the profession of decision analysis in 1964 and has supervised several doctoral theses in decision analysis every year until his retirement. His experience includes dozens of decision analysis projects that range over virtually all fields of application, from investment planning to research strategy, and from hurricane seeding to nuclear waste isolation. He was a founding Director and Chairman of Strategic Decisions Group and is President of the Decision Education Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing decision skills to youth. 

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, Fellow of INFORMS and IEEE, and a Ramsey medalist. He is the author, with Clint Korver, of Ethics for the Real World: Creating a Personal Code to Guide Decisions in Work and Life. His latest book is Foundations of Decision Analysis, written with Ali E. Abbas.

Buy Ron’s Book: Ethics for the Real World

Jim Matheson

Chairman and CFO, of SmartOrg

Integrate decision principles into all areas of life!

Watch Interview with Jim Matheson - click here

Learn More About This Founder

James Matheson (Jim) is a co-founder, Chairman and CFO, of SmartOrg and a world recognized leader in the development and application of decision analysis. In recognition of his career, he was awarded the Ramsey Medal, the highest honor in the field of decision analysis, for creating and managing the world’s first decision analysis group at SRI International in addition to decades of contribution to the principles and applications of decision analysis. After SRI, he co-founded and was a managing director of Strategic Decision Group (SDG), where he served as Chief Technology Officer and developed their R&D consulting practice. SmartOrg, Inc. is a year 2000 spinoff of the software related assets of SDG.

In addition to his professional practice, Dr. Matheson has been a Consulting Professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineer ing at Stanford University since 1967, where he regularly teaches courses and supervises graduate students. He serves on the Board of Directors of Clarity4Action, and on the advisory boards of the Decision Institute and Right Side Capital Management.

He holds a BS from the Carnegie­ Mellon University, an MS and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, and is a Fellow of INFORMS and of the Society of Decision Professionals (SDP). He co-authored the highly-acclaimed book, The Smart Organization: Creating Value through Strategic R&D.

In mid-2012, Dr. Matheson was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences Committee to Determine Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants. The final report was published in 2014.

Visit SmartOrg.Com

Buy Jim’s Book: Smart Organization

Ralph Keeney


Give Yourself a Nudge

Watch Interview with Ralph Keeney - click here

Learn More About This Founder

Ralph L. Keeney is a consultant and Professor Emeritus in business at Duke University and in engineering at the University of Southern California.

Ralph L. Keeney received a B.S. in engineering from UCLA and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a member of the faculties at MIT, the University of Southern California, and Duke University. For seven years, he created and managed the decision and risk analysis group in an engineering-geotechnical- environmental consulting firm. He also spent two years at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, an international think tank examining problems of developed societies, near Vienna.

Professor Keeney’s books, which have been translated into numerous languages, include Decisions with Multiple Objectives with Howard Raiffa (1976, 1993), Value-Focused Thinking (1992), Smart Choices, with John S. Hammond and Howard Raiffa (1999), and Give Yourself a Nudge: Helping Smart People Make Smarter Personal and Business Decisions (2020). He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and recently received an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo in Canada.


Buy Ralph’s Book: Give Yourself a Nudge

Carl Spetzler

Chairman SDG

Simplify your life through a reliable decision practice

Watch Interview with Carl Spetzler - click here

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Carl is an author, speaker, and consultant who has spent most of his career working with corporate leaders and boards to make strategic decisions that influence the future of the enterprise. 

He helps corporate clients and public entities identify strategic opportunities, deal with the complexities of uncertainty and risk over long time horizons, and achieve lasting change. He is the lead author of Decision Quality: Value Creation from Better Business Decisions (Wiley, 2016) with his SDG colleagues Hannah Winter and Jennifer Meyer.

Carl was inducted into the SRI International “Hall of Fame” for his work in decision analysis and his influential work with Merrill Lynch. The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) awarded Carl the Frank P. Ramsey Medal which honors outstanding contributions to the field of decision analysis. He was the first recipient of the Pioneer Award, the highest honor from the Society of Decision Professionals. Treasury & Risk Magazine has named him to its list of 100 Most Influential People in Finance. 

Carl co-founded management consulting firm Strategic Decisions Group in 1981 and currently serves as its chairman. He is based in the firm’s Menlo Park, California, office.


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Joe Sweeney

Executive Director,
Alliance for Decision Education

Decision skills to pass on to young people

Watch Interview with Joe Sweeney - click here

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Joe is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Decision Education, a non-profit education organization leading the growing call to have decision-making skills taught in schools across the country by 2030. Increasingly, teachers, parents and business leaders all are advocating for students to be trained on how to make sound choices, improving their lives and those of others around them.

The Alliance is dedicated to the belief that better decisions lead to better lives and a better society. Our mission is to improve lives by empowering students with essential decision skills. Previously, Joe was an independent school leader, software entrepreneur, and award-winning teacher.

He is a Fellow of the Systems Wisdom Institute, a member of the American Psychological Association, and a member of the Society of Judgment and Decision Making. Joe holds a Masters in Mathematics from Villanova University, a Masters in Economics from Temple University, and a Doctorate in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. When not working, Joe loves to read, cook for friends, and sail.


Get Free Gift: The Decision Education Podcast

Jeannie Kahwajy

Management Consultant
with Strategic Decisions Group

Upgrade yourself by modifying how you relate to others

Watch Interview with Jeannie Kahwajy - click here

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Dr. Jean Kahwajy developed her innovative communication theories while earning her PhD at Stanford University in Organizational Behavior. Dr. Kahwajy had previously earned an MS in Engineering Management and an MBA  from Stanford, and a BS with high distinction in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Following her time as a member of technical staff at Bell Communications Research and as a management consultant with Strategic Decisions Group in Menlo Park, California, Dr. Kahwajy joined the faculty at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she taught for over four years, was offered a long-term contract, and then decided to devote her full-time efforts to private consulting and research through Effective Interactions. 

She has proven her scientific theories in working with CEOs and Senior Executives at Shell, Sara Lee, Mars, P&G, ABN AMRO, UBS, Bosch, Bayer, Lonza Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, NET, Apple, the Ken Blanchard Companies, Stanford University, The Australian Defence Organization, and Google to name a few.

She specializes in working with with Fortune 50 Companies, Venture Capital Groups, Private Equity Firms, and Family Offices.

Her clients have been transformed through learning the science of effective interactions.


Clint Korver

Author Ethics for the
Real World & Co-Founder Ulu Ventures

Create a personal code to spend more time living and less time wondering

Watch Interview with Clint Korver - click here

Learn More About This Founder

Clint Korver is co-founder and managing director of Ulu Ventures, a Silicon Valley seed stage venture firm investing in enterprise IT, FinTech, and startups led by diverse founders. An expert in decision-making under uncertainty, he designed Ulu’s investment process to combine data and intuition to minimize cognitive biases, reduce risk, and produce better, more consistent returns.

An active supporter of entrepreneurship within the Stanford community, Clint taught entrepreneurship in the School of Engineering; mentors at StartX, Stanford’s accelerator; and co-founded Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs, one of Stanford’s largest alumni groups.

Over the last 13 years, Clint and his partner Miriam Rivera have invested in more than 170 startups including SoFi, Palantir, Guild, Krux (acquired by Salesforce), Blue River Technology (acquired by John Deere), Homelight, BetterUp, Figure and Guild Education. Prior to Ulu, Clint co-founded four Silicon Valley startups which provided tools to help individuals or organizations make better decisions. He also co-authored a book on ethical decision-making entitled “Ethics for the Real World” (Harvard Business Press 2008).

Clint is a Kauffman Fellow in venture capital and holds a PhD and an MS in decision analysis from Stanford’s School of Engineering and a BA in mathematics from Grinnell College where he served as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

When Clint’s not using his decision analysis talents in venture, he is teaching it to his two kids (they will thank him some day), using it to plan adventures (they thank him now), and using it on the golf course with admittedly little success as he mostly needs practice putting and chipping.


Buy Clint’s Book: Ethics for the Real World

David Matheson

President &
CEO of SmartOrg

We are all innovators in our own lives!

Watch Interview with David Matheson - click here

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David Matheson cofounded SmartOrg. With decades of experience, he has helped senior management in firms around the world improve their results from portfolio management, product development, innovation, R & D, capital investment and strategy. He’s known for finding simple answers to some of the most complicated strategic business issues and is an expert at measuring value and managing uncertainty.

Why does David do what he does? When customers report back to him with 30% improvements in growth or cost reductions, or higher as with the , David and his team savor the accomplishment of helping customers achieve growth beyond their initial expectations.

He co-authored the bestselling book, “The Smart Organization: Creating Value through Strategic R & D” (Harvard Business School Press) and has authored numerous articles on innovation, portfolio management and decision making. David is a Fellow with the Society of Decision Professionals, an educator in Strategic Portfolio Management, and advises numerous startups. His Ph.D. is from Stanford University, where he has also taught Strategic Portfolio Management at the Stanford Center for Professional Development. When David isn’t showing executives how to bring about more profitable growth, he’s most likely outside riding his bike and celebrating with dark chocolate.


Buy David’s Book: The Smart Organization

David Redish

University of Minnesota

How we make decisions – implications beyond neuroscience

Watch Interview with David Redish - click here

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Dr. David Redish is a poet, playwright, and scientist.  He was trained in computational, theoretical, and experimental neuroscience and has contributed to our understanding of decision-making and cognition. 

Most recently, Dr. Redish has been a leader in the new field of computational psychiatry which builds on an understanding of how systems producing behavior run into trouble and produce disorders to redefine psychiatric paradigms. 

He is the author of over a hundred papers and three books, including the popular science book The Mind within the Brain: How we make decisions and how those decisions go wrong (Oxford Univ Press 2013).  He is currently a Distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota.


Buy David’s Book: The Mind within the Brain

Kristen Jawad

Co-founder & facilitator

Powerful Strategies to Support the Decision-Maker


Host & Co-founder of Clarity4Action

Powerful Strategies to Support the Decision-Maker

Watch Interview with Kristen Jawad & Amy Matheson Day - click here

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Kristen Jawad holds a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and has advanced training in compassionate communication, restorative justice, evocative coaching & life coaching. She recognizes the value of emotional fluency and conscious choice to create a life of purpose.

As a BodyMind educator, she believes in the value of understanding how you think, feel and learn. She brings these perspectives to the folks she works with. And as a parent of two emerging adults, she has witnessed the magic that occurs when a person dreams big, believes in themself & takes action.


Get Free PDF Here: Decision Fitness

Learn More About This Founder

Able to translate brainy decision science into common language, Amy brings the power of quality decision making and tools for action to everyday people. Uniquely equipped from childhood as a personal decision making native speaker from the island of Decision Analysis, Amy is the daughter of Jim Matheson, a Decision Analysis pioneer. As a co-founder, Amy teaches these skills to young people, and the adults who care about them, through in-person and online courses and one-on-one decision coaching. Amy brings a breadth of professional experience in decision education and coaching, K-12 education, volunteer management, outreach, and program and organizational development with the Decision Education Foundation, Youth in Philanthropy, and American Red Cross as well as 19-years in alternative education. Amy is an honors graduate in Economics with a Spanish Literature minor from Whitman College.


Get Free PDF Here: Decision Fitness

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