Decision-making

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1. a. Describe the steps in the decision-making process.

b. Explain the advantages of an efficient MIS to managerial decision making.

Decision-making is one of the defining characteristics of leadership. It’s core to the job description. Making decisions is what managers and leaders are paid to do. Yet, there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t read something in the news or the business press that makes you wonder, “What were they thinking?” or “Who actually made that decision?” That’s probably always been the case, but it seems exponentially more so in the opening decade of the new millennium where everything seems marked with, “too big, too fast, too much, and too soon.” The reality seems to be that most organizations aren’t overrun by good decision makers, yet alone great ones. When asked, people don’t easily point to what they regard as great decisions. Stories of bad decisions and bad decision-making come much more readily to mind. Some of that is due to our tendency to notice and recall exceptions vs. all the times things go as planned. For example, you’ve walked along side buildings more times than you could possibly count. Yet you remember vividly the one time you got nailed by a pigeon overhead. That’s how we are about bad decisions. We’re also that way because the really bad ones tend to really hurt. It’s not that people don’t have the capacity to make high-quality decisions in them. Decision-making is a distinctly human activity. It’s what that great, big frontal lobe is for. We all make decisions all the time. But the fact that we’re hard-wired to make decisions doesn’t by itself make us good decision-makers. That takes discipline: discipline to do at least four things all the time and well. 1. Realize when and why you need to make a decision.

2. Declare the decision: decide what the decision is, how you’ll work it, and who should be involved. 3. Work the decision: generate a complete set of alternatives, gather the information you need to understand the possibilities and probabilities, and ultimately make a choice that best fits your values. 4. Commit resources and act.

For a more exhaustive list of decision principles, go here [clicky] Not everyone does those four things consistently or consistently well. We’ve worked with a lot of leaders and managers in some of the most widely regarded companies in the world and our observation is that most people don’t. In fact, the distribution generally looks something like this: * There are some really wretched decision makers. For them, a good outcome is usually a matter of luck. * There are a lot of people who are reasonably competent decision makers. Their decision processes aren’t great, but they’re not bad, and the outcomes they experience track accordingly. * There is a small group of people who could be described as “good decision makers” These people are proactive and decision oriented. They’re able to focus attention on what’s important and critical. They know how to break a decision down into logical parts. They know how to work each of those parts in a high quality way. They know how to deal with possibilities and probabilities. They’re able to see opportunities where others see problems. They’re able to make quality choices in the face of uncertainty. They’re able to turn thought into action. * There is a sprinkling of people we’d describe as great decision makers. Like other good decision makers, these people consistently make high quality decisions. Their “greatness”, a word that is probably way overused, comes from their ability to create the dynamics needed to ensure that the people in their organizations can do the same. Good and great decision makers expect high quality outcomes and they’re generally not disappointed. When they are, it’s usually because of some random thunderbolt or some unforeseen dynamic, not because they didn’t do a good job of working the problem. There are exceptions to this...
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