The rational approach to decisions is based on scientifically obtained data that allow informed decision-making, reducing the chances of errors, distortions, assumptions, guesswork, subjectivity, and all major causes for poor or inequitable judgments. Such an information and knowledge based approach promotes consistent and high quality decisions, and reduces the risk and uncertainties associated with decisions.
The rational method infuses the decision-making process with discipline, consistency, and logic. It is a step-by-step approach that requires defining problem, identifying the weighing and decision criteria, listing out the various alternatives, deliberating the present and future consequences of each alternative, and rating each alternative on each criterion. Such a sequential approach allows the decision maker to arrive at the optimal decision.
The rational decision making process requires careful consideration and deliberation of data; this takes time, making this method unsuitable for quick-decisions. In the age of fast-paced changes, seizing the opportunity at the spur of the moment plays a big part in success, and the rational model does not live up to this task. Moreover, delay in making and implementing a decision may result in dilution of the perceived benefit of such an alternative, for the benefits may accrue only when taken at that time. As such, this model finds use mostly in making long-term and policy decisions rather than short-term or floor level operational decisions.
Rational decision-making is steeped in conservatism, and errs on the side of caution. Many a time, the company makes it big when managers or leaders follow their gut instincts to take a gamble and seize an opportunity. Similarly, many times success depends on being the pioneer in the field, or the first to launch a new and untested product, which may find wide acceptance. Limiting decisions to analysis of available data may impede such approaches.