What Is A Decision?

Management is all about making decisions – if this was not the case then you would not be in your job!

What makes for a decision? A good way to look at this is a specific commitment to action (usually a commitment of resources) in the form of a plan to deal with a problem.

Choices here set up a wider process of decision making through which managers create a plan to sole a particular problem.

Complex decisions follow many earlier decisions and can directly impact upon the eventual option to solve the problem – these may only be minor decisions initially but their impact can grow with time.

Information is at the centre of the process which feeds from and to other parts of the process. Gathering information on the problem, opportunities and conflicts presented is essential in getting this right. As we deal with one element we will always find new information that means we will reconsider and revisit previous assumptions and positions.

Some decision makers move rapidly to making a firm commitment to action swiftly using intuition and little or no factual analysis. This makes sense for familiar or routine decisions where there is little to debate, given accepted facts, experience and previous experience.

Nutt (2002) identifies differences in decision making approaches:

  • Idea discovery process – looking beyond the initial problem or issue and examining the different claims and arguments about the situation. This then leads to a much clearer position where the decision will have an impact and this slows potential barriers to the implementation of the decision to come into view. This early actions allow the decision maker to set a direction allowing sight of the solution and an agreed outcome. This significantly increases the probability of making a good decision.
  • Idea imposition process – jumping to conclusions and then trying to implement the solution that has probably just been stumbled upon. This process involves looking at relatively few options and with too much focus upon the people involved, not the processes needed.

Solutions – five key steps:

  1. Set the goals you wish to achieve: use economic or non-economic criteria BUT be very clear about the outcome that you want.
  2. Set and weight the criteria selected
  3. Identify alternative routes to achieve your goal(s) you have identified
  4. Gather hard information on the benefits and costs of each (economic or non-economic)
  5. Compare alternatives against the criteria using this information
  6. Choose which route to recommend

The trick here is to consult widely, to get the maximum number of perspectives on the problem, but skill is needed to effectively integrate possibly conflicting ideas and opinions. There is also a need to ignore people who want to help – far better to consult and hence invite opinion/ideas, although this may be costly and take time.

Make your decisions wisely!

Good Luck!

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