The goal-directed task analysis (GDTA) is an exercise that helps the team determine clear understanding of a Situational Awareness-centered organization’s goals and what tasks need to be accomplished in order to successfully achieve their assignment. This analysis shows us step by step what decisions the end-user has to make and information requirements needed to fulfill their goal.

Why use this exercise?

“SA” is a commonly-used acronym for Situational Awareness—which means being aware of what is happening in your environment, understanding that information which guide determining actions. The GDTA shows us information requirements beyond the operator’s system knowledge and into defining the information requirements needed for the user to make the best final decision. Quick and precise decision making is crucial for SA-oriented organizations.

SA steps:

SA Theory Graphic

  • What
  • So What
  • Now What

Our approach

We start by interviewing Subject Matter Experts (SME) to understand end-user characteristics and their devices—leading to a set of user requirements. This gives us insight on the organizations’ environments and current technology capabilities. Once the end-user requirements have been identified, we continue interviewing the SME by facilitating questions and conversations guided towards understanding the user’s’ goals. These goals are categorized as follows from top down:

  • Main Goal
  • Sub-Goal
  • Decision
  • SA requirement: Level 3- Projection, Level 2 - Comprehension, Level 1-Perception

How long does this take?

Depending on the SA organization’s operational complexity and targeted tasks, this exercise could take anywhere from 2 weeks - 6 months.


Understanding their approach to a mission and the steps they take to execute those goals through the GDTA shows us step by step task analysis but it also starts visually connecting different tasks that may have been.