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What hinders effective Decision making? How can barriers to effective decision making be overcome?

Decision-making is an essential aspect of modern management. It is a primary function of management. A manager's major job is sound/rational decision-making. He takes hundreds of decisions consciously and subconsciously. Decision-making is the key part of manager's activities. Decisions are important as they determine both managerial and organizational actions. A decision may be defined as "a course of action which is consciously chosen from among a set of alternatives to achieve a desired result." It represents a well-balanced judgment and a commitment to action.
It is rightly said that the first important function of management is to take decisions on problems and situations. Decision-making pervades all managerial actions. It is a continuous process. Decision-making is an indispensable component of the management process itself.

Means and ends are linked together through decision-making. To decide means to come to some definite conclusion for follow-up action. Decision is a choice from among a set of alternatives. The word 'decision' is derived from the Latin words de ciso which means 'a cutting away or a cutting off or in a practical sense' to come to a conclusion. Decisions are made to achieve goals through suitable follow-up actions. Decision-making is a process by which a decision (course of action) is taken. Decision-making lies embedded in the process of management.
"Whatever a manager does, he does through decision-making". A manager has to take a decision before acting or before preparing a plan for execution. Moreover, his ability is very often judged by the quality of decisions he takes. Thus, management is always a decision-making process. It is a part of every managerial function. This is because action is not possible unless a firm decision is taken about a business problem or situation.
This clearly suggests that decision-making is necessary in planning, organising, directing, controlling and staffing. For example, in planning alternative plans are prepared to meet different possible situations. Out of such alternative plans, the best one (i.e., plan which most appropriate under the available business environment) is to be selected. Here, the planner has to take correct decision. This suggests that decision-making is the core of planning function. In the same way, decisions are required to be taken while performing other functions of management such as organising, directing, staffing, etc. This suggests the importance of decision-making in the whole process of management.
The effectiveness of management depends on the quality of decision-making. In this sense, management is rightly described as decision-making process. , "management is a decision-making process." Decision-making is an intellectual process which involves selection of one course of action out of many alternatives. Decision-making will be followed by second function of management called planning. The other elements which follow planning are many such as organising, directing, coordinating, controlling and motivating.
Decision-making has priority over planning function. it is the top management which is responsible for all strategic decisions such as the objectives of the business, capital expenditure decisions as well as such operating decisions as training of manpower and so on. Without such decisions, no action can take place and naturally the resources would remain idle and unproductive. The managerial decisions should be correct to the maximum extent possible. For this, scientific decision-making is essential.

"Decision-making involves the selection of a course of action from among two or more possible alternatives in order to arrive at a solution for a given problem".

Characteristics of Decision Making

1.   Decision making implies choice: Decision making is choosing from among two or more alternative courses of action. Thus, it is the process of selection of one solution out of many available. For any business problem, alternative solutions are available. Managers have to consider these alternatives and select the best one for actual execution. Here, planners/ decision-makers have to consider the business environment available and select the promising alternative plan to deal with the business problem effectively. It is rightly said that "Decision-making is fundamentally choosing between the alternatives". In decision-making, various alternatives are to be considered critically and the best one is to be selected. Here, the available business environment also needs careful consideration. The alternative selected may be correct or may not be correct. This will be decided in the future, as per the results available from the decision already taken. In short, decision-making is fundamentally a process of choosing between the alternatives (two or more) available. Moreover, in the decision-making process, information is collected; alternative solutions are decided and considered critically in order to find out the best solution among the available. Every problem can be solved by different methods. These are the alternatives and a decision-maker has to select one alternative which he considers as most appropriate. This clearly suggests that decision-making is basically/fundamentally choosing between the alternatives. The alternatives may be two or more. Out of such alternatives, the most suitable is to be selected for actual use. The manager needs capacity to select the best alternative. The benefits of correct decision-making will be available only when the best alternative is selected for actual use.
2.   Continuous activity/process: Decision-making is a continuous and dynamic process. It pervades all organizational activity. Managers have to take decisions on various policy and administrative matters. It is a never ending activity in business management.
3.   Mental/intellectual activity: Decision-making is a mental as well as intellectual activity/process and requires knowledge, skills, experience and maturity on the part of decision-maker. It is essentially a human activity.
4.   Based on reliable information/feedback: Good decisions are always based on reliable information. The quality of decision-making at all levels of the Organisation can be improved with the support of an effective and efficient management information system (MIS).
5.   Goal oriented process: Decision-making aims at providing a solution to a given problem/ difficulty before a business enterprise. It is a goal-oriented process and provides solutions to problems faced by a business unit.
6.   Means and not the end: Decision-making is a means for solving a problem or for achieving a target/objective and not the end in itself.
7.   Relates to specific problem: Decision-making is not identical with problem solving but it has its roots in a problem itself.
8.   Time-consuming activity: Decision-making is a time-consuming activity as various aspects need careful consideration before taking final decision. For decision makers, various steps are required to be completed. This makes decision-making a time consuming activity.
9.   Needs effective communication: Decision-taken needs to be communicated to all concerned parties for suitable follow-up actions. Decisions taken will remain on paper if they are not communicated to concerned persons. Following actions will not be possible in the absence of effective communication.
10.   Pervasive process: Decision-making process is all pervasive. This means managers working at all levels have to take decisions on matters within their jurisdiction.
11.   Responsible job: Decision-making is a responsible job as wrong decisions prove to be too costly to the Organisation. Decision-makers should be matured, experienced, knowledgeable and rational in their approach. Decision-making need not be treated as routing and casual activity. It is a delicate and responsible job.

Advantages of Decision Making

1.   Decision making is the primary function of management: The functions of management starts only when the top-level management takes strategic decisions. Without decisions, actions will not be possible and the resources will not be put to use. Thus decision-making is the primary function of management.
2.   Decision-making facilitates the entire management process: Decision-making creates proper background for the first management activity called planning. Planning gives concrete shape to broad decisions about business objectives taken by the top-level management. In addition, decision-making is necessary while conducting other management functions such as organising, staffing, coordinating and communicating.
3.   Decision-making is a continuous managerial function: Managers working at all levels will have to take decisions as regards the functions assigned to them. Continuous decision making is a must in the case of all managers/executives. Follow-up actions are not possible unless decisions are taken.
4.   Decision-making is essential to face new problems and challenges: Decisions are required to be taken regularly as new problems, difficulties and challenges develop before a business enterprise. This may be due to changes in the external environment. New products may come in the market, new competitors may enter the market and government policies may change. All this leads to change in the environment around the business unit. Such change leads to new problems and new decisions are needed.
5.   Decision-making is a delicate and responsible job: Managers have to take quick and correct decisions while discharging their duties. In fact, they are paid for their skill, maturity and capacity of decision-making. Management activities are possible only when suitable decisions are taken. Correct decisions provide opportunities of growth while wrong decisions lead to loss and instability to a business unit.

Steps Involved In Decision Making Process

Decision-making involves a number of steps which need to be taken in a logical manner. This is treated as a rational or scientific 'decision-making process' which is lengthy and time consuming. Such lengthy process needs to be followed in order to take rational/scientific/result oriented decisions. Decision-making process prescribes some rules and guidelines as to how a decision should be taken / made. This involves many steps logically arranged. It was Peter Drucker who first strongly advocated the scientific method of decision-making in his world famous book 'The Practice of Management' published in 1955. Drucker recommended the scientific method of decision-making which, according to him, involves the following six steps:

1.   Defining / Identifying the managerial problem,
2.   Analyzing the problem,
3.   Developing alternative solutions,
4.   Selecting the best solution out of the available alternatives,
5.   Converting the decision into action, and
6.   Ensuring feedback for follow-up.

The figure given below suggests the steps in the decision-making process:-

1.   Identifying the Problem: Identification of the real problem before a business enterprise is the first step in the process of decision-making. It is rightly said that a problem well-defined is a problem half-solved. Information relevant to the problem should be gathered so that critical analysis of the problem is possible. This is how the problem can be diagnosed. Clear distinction should be made between the problem and the symptoms which may cloud the real issue. In brief, the manager should search the 'critical factor' at work. It is the point at which the choice applies. Similarly, while diagnosing the real problem the manager should consider causes and find out whether they are controllable or uncontrollable.
2.   Analyzing the Problem: After defining the problem, the next step in the decision-making process is to analyze the problem in depth. This is necessary to classify the problem in order to know who must take the decision and who must be informed about the decision taken. Here, the following four factors should be kept in mind:
1.   Futurity of the decision,
2.   The scope of its impact,
3.   Number of qualitative considerations involved, and
4.   Uniqueness of the decision.
3.   Collecting Relevant Data: After defining the problem and analyzing its nature, the next step is to obtain the relevant information/ data about it. There is information flood in the business world due to new developments in the field of information technology. All available information should be utilised fully for analysis of the problem. This brings clarity to all aspects of the problem.
4.   Developing Alternative Solutions: After the problem has been defined, diagnosed on the basis of relevant information, the manager has to determine available alternative courses of action that could be used to solve the problem at hand. Only realistic alternatives should be considered. It is equally important to take into account time and cost constraints and psychological barriers that will restrict that number of alternatives. If necessary, group participation techniques may be used while developing alternative solutions as depending on one solution is undesirable.
5.   Selecting the Best Solution: After preparing alternative solutions, the next step in the decision-making process is to select an alternative that seems to be most rational for solving the problem. The alternative thus selected must be communicated to those who are likely to be affected by it. Acceptance of the decision by group members is always desirable and useful for its effective implementation.
6.   Converting Decision into Action: After the selection of the best decision, the next step is to convert the selected decision into an effective action. Without such action, the decision will remain merely a declaration of good intentions. Here, the manager has to convert 'his decision into 'their decision' through his leadership. For this, the subordinates should be taken in confidence and they should be convinced about the correctness of the decision. Thereafter, the manager has to take follow-up steps for the execution of decision taken.
7.   Ensuring Feedback: Feedback is the last step in the decision-making process. Here, the manager has to make built-in arrangements to ensure feedback for continuously testing actual developments against the expectations. It is like checking the effectiveness of follow-up measures. Feedback is possible in the form of organised information, reports and personal observations. Feed back is necessary to decide whether the decision already taken should be continued or be modified in the light of changed conditions.

Every step in the decision-making process is important and needs proper consideration by managers. This facilitates accurate decision-making. Even quantitative techniques such as CPM, PERT/OR, linear programming, etc. are useful for accurate decision-making. Decision-making is important as it facilitates entire management process. Management activities are just not possible without decision-making as it is an integral aspect of management process itself. However, the quality of decision-making should be always superior as faulty/irrational decisions are always dangerous.
Various advantages of decision-making (already explained) are easily 'available when the entire decision-making process is followed properly. Decisions are frequently needed in the management process. However, such decisions should be appropriate, timely and rational. Faulty and hasty decisions are wrong and even dangerous. This clearly suggests that various advantages of decision-making are available only when scientific decisions are taken by following the procedure of decision-making in an appropriate manner.
For accurate/rational decision-making attention should be given to the following points:
1.   Identification of a wide range of alternative courses of action i.e., decisions. This provides wide choice for the selection of suitable decision for follow-up actions.
2.   A careful consideration of the costs and risks of both positive and negative consequences that could follow from each alternation.
3.   Efforts should be made to search for new information relevant to further evaluation of the alternatives. This is necessary as the quality of decision depends on the quality of information used in the decision-making process.
4.   Re-examination of the positive and negative effects of all known alternatives before making a final selection.
5.   Arrangements should be made for implementing the chosen course of action including contingency plans in the event that various known risks were actually to occur.
6.   Efforts should be made to introduce creativity and rationality in the final decision taken.


Models of Decision Making
1.• The Rational Model
– Consists of a structured four-step sequence:
• identifying the problem
• generating alternative solutions
• selecting a solution
• implementing and evaluating the solution

2.Simon’s Normative Model
- Based on premise that decision making is not
- Decision making is characterized by
* limited information processing
* use of rules of thumb or shortcuts
* satisficing

3.Assets of MANAGEMENT Group Decision
• Groups can accumulate more knowledge and facts
• Groups have a broader perspective and consider more
alternative solutions
• Individuals who participate in decisions are more satisfied
with the decision and are more likely to support it.
• Group decision making processes serve an important
communication function as well as a useful political


WHEN  AND  Why Rational and Right Decisions Are Not Possible?

Rational decisions are the best decisions under the available circumstances. All decisions should be rational as such decisions facilitate expansion of business and give more profit, goodwill and prosperity to a business unit. Rationality and decision-making are closely related concepts. Rationality principle is applicable to all types of decisions. All decisions (business, economic, social etc.) should be fair and rational. They should serve as examples over a long period. For such decisions, rational/scientific/balanced approach is essential while making decisions. In the absence of such approach, decisions are likely to be faulty and dangerous to the Organisation and also to all concerned parties.
Rationality in decision-making is possible through human brain which has the ability to learn, think, analyze and relate complex facts and variables while arriving at a decision. A manager has to introduce rationality in his decision-making by using his skills, experience, knowledge and mental abilities.
On some occasions, such rational and right decisions are not taken due to variety of possible reasons. It is also possible that the decision taken may be rational when taken but is treated as wrong/irrational/faulty because' the results available from the decision taken are not as expected/positive/encouraging. Rational decisions may not be possible when the approach of the decision-maker is casual and superficial. He may not be alert, careful and cautious while taking the decisions or he might not have followed the decision-making process in a scientific manner. In brief, all business decisions should be rational as far as possible as such rational decisions offer many benefits/advantages. However, rational decisions may not be taken on certain occasions. According to Herbert A. Simon, human beings are not always rational in the decisional process.

Reasons Why Rational and Right Decisions May Not Be Possible?

1.   Inadequate information, data and knowledge: For rational decision-making accurate, reliable and complete information about various aspects of the problem under investigation is necessary. The possible future trends can be estimated with the help of such information. This facilitates rational decision-making. However, adequate and reliable information may not be available at the time of decision-making. As a result, the decisions become defective or irrational. Such decision may prove to be faulty in the course of time. This is how the decisions become irrational to certain extent.
2.   Uncertain environment: Decisions are taken on the basis of information available about various environmental variables. However, the variables are many and complex in nature. They may be related to political, economic, social and other aspects. It is not possible to study all such variables in depth due to inadequate information/data. This leads to inaccuracy in decision making and the decisions taken are not fully rational.
3.   Limited capacity of decision-maker. A decision-maker should be expert, knowledgeable, intelligent and matured. He needs vision and capacity to imagine possible future situation. In the absence of such qualities, the decision-maker may not be able to take rational decisions. Similarly, the decision taken may not be rational if the decision-maker fails to follow all necessary steps required for scientific decision-making. A hasty decision or decision taken without full use of all mental faculties may not be fully rational. Thus, decisions are likely to be less rational if the decision maker lacks capacity to take rational decisions.
4.   Personal element in decision-making: Decision-making should be always impartial and also favorable to the Organisation. Decision against Organisation but favorable to decision maker or other employees will be unfair. Such decision will not be rational. Similarly, every decision-maker has his own personal background in the form of personal beliefs, attributes, preferences, likes and dislikes and so on. A decision-maker is expected to keep these elements away while taking management decisions. This may not be possible in the case of all decision-makers and on all occasions. However, decisions are not fully rational when such personal element comes in the picture.
5.   A decision cannot be fully independent: Managerial decisions are interlinked and interdependent. A manager has to make adjustments or compromises while making decisions. For example, for reducing price, some compromise with the quality may be necessary. A manager gives more importance to one and less to the other. He takes one decision which is rational at the same time makes some compromise in the other decision. As a result, other decision is not likely to be fully rational. In short, business decisions are interlinked. This brings an element of irrationality in some decisions.
The points noted above suggest why it is not possible to take rational and right decisions on all occasions.

Decision Making
1. Define the problem
This is often where people struggle. They react to what they think the problem is. Instead, seek to understand more about why you think there's a problem.
Defining the problem: (with input from yourself and others)
Ask yourself and others, the following questions:
a. What can you see that causes you to think there's a problem?
b. Where is it happening?
c. How is it happening?
d. When is it happening?
e. With whom is it happening? (HINT: Don't jump to "Who is causing the problem?" When we're stressed, blaming is often one of our first reactions. To be an effective manager, you need to address issues more than people.)
f. Why is it happening?
g. Write down a five-sentence description of the problem in terms of "The following should be happening, but isn't ..." or "The following is happening and should be: ..." As much as possible, be specific in your description, including what is happening, where, how, with whom and why. (It may be helpful at this point to use a variety of research methods.
Defining complex problems:
a. If the problem still seems overwhelming, break it down by repeating steps a-f until you have descriptions of several related problems.
Verifying your understanding of the problems:
a. It helps a great deal to verify your problem analysis for conferring with a peer or someone else.
Prioritize the problems:
a. If you discover that you are looking at several related problems, then prioritize which ones you should address first.
b. Note the difference between "important" and "urgent" problems. Often, what we consider to be important problems to consider are really just urgent problems. Important problems deserve more attention. For example, if you're continually answering "urgent" phone calls, then you've probably got a more "important" problem and that's to design a system that screens and prioritizes your phone calls.
Understand your role in the problem:
a. Your role in the problem can greatly influence how you perceive the role of others. For example, if you're very stressed out, it'll probably look like others are, too, or, you may resort too quickly to blaming and reprimanding others. Or, you are feel very guilty about your role in the problem, you may ignore the accountabilities of others.
2. Look at potential causes for the problem
a. It's amazing how much you don't know about what you don't know. Therefore, in this phase, it's critical to get input from other people who notice the problem and who are effected by it.
b. It's often useful to collect input from other individuals one at a time (at least at first). Otherwise, people tend to be inhibited about offering their impressions of the real causes of problems.
c. Write down what your opinions and what you've heard from others.
d. Regarding what you think might be performance problems associated with an employee, it's often useful to seek advice from a peer or your supervisor in order to verify your impression of the problem.
e.Write down a description of the cause of the problem and in terms of what is happening, where, when, how, with whom and why.
3.Define the Goal or Objective

In a sense, every problem is a situation that prevents us from achieving previously determined goals. If a personal goal is to lead a pleasant and meaningful life, then any situation that would prevent it is viewed as a problem. Similarly, in a business situation, if a company objective is to operate profitably, then problems are those occurrences which prevent the company from achieving its previously defined profit objective. But an objective need not be a grand, overall goal of a business or an individual. It may be quite narrow and specific. "I want to pay off the loan on my car by May," or "The plant must produce 300 golf carts in the next two weeks," are more limited objectives. Thus, defining the objective is the act of exactly describing the task or goal.
4. Identify alternatives for approaches to resolve the problem
a. At this point, it's useful to keep others involved (unless you're facing a personal and/or employee performance problem). Brainstorm for solutions to the problem. Very simply put, brainstorming is collecting as many ideas as possible, then screening them to find the best idea. It's critical when collecting the ideas to not pass any judgment on the ideas -- just write them down as you hear them.
5. Select an approach to resolve the problem
When selecting the best approach, consider:
a. Which approach is the most likely to solve the problem for the long term?
b. Which approach is the most realistic to accomplish for now? Do you have the resources? Are they affordable? Do you have enough time to implement the approach?
c. What is the extent of risk associated with each alternative?
6. Plan the implementation of the best alternative (this is your action plan)
a. Carefully consider "What will the situation look like when the problem is solved?"
b. What steps should be taken to implement the best alternative to solving the problem? What systems or processes should be changed in your organization, for example, a new policy or procedure? Don't resort to solutions where someone is "just going to try harder".
c. How will you know if the steps are being followed or not? (these are your indicators of the success of your plan)
d. What resources will you need in terms of people, money and facilities?
e. How much time will you need to implement the solution? Write a schedule that includes the start and stop times, and when you expect to see certain indicators of success.
f. Who will primarily be responsible for ensuring implementation of the plan?
g. Write down the answers to the above questions and consider this as your action plan.
h. Communicate the plan to those who will involved in implementing it and, at least, to your immediate supervisor.
(An important aspect of this step in the problem-solving process is continually observation and feedback.)
7. Monitor implementation of the plan
Monitor the indicators of success:
a. Are you seeing what you would expect from the indicators?
b. Will the plan be done according to schedule?
c. If the plan is not being followed as expected, then consider: Was the plan realistic? Are there sufficient resources to accomplish the plan on schedule? Should more priority be placed on various aspects of the plan? Should the plan be changed?
8. Verify if the problem has been resolved or not
One of the best ways to verify if a problem has been solved or not is to resume normal operations in the organization. Still, you should consider:
a. What changes should be made to avoid this type of problem in the future? Consider changes to policies and procedures, training, etc.
b. Lastly, consider "What did you learn from this problem solving?" Consider new knowledge, understanding and/or skills.
c. Consider writing a brief memo that highlights the success of the problem solving effort, and what you learned as a result. Share it with your supervisor, peers and subordinates


-apply the pestel analysis with respect TO ITS BUSINESS

1.Political (incl. Legal)

-Environmental regulations and protection
[what are the government regualtions/ protection laws that must be observed ]

-Tax policies
what tax hinder the business and what taxes incentives are available]

-International trade regulations and restrictions
[ does the government encourage exports / with high tariffs on imports]

-Contract enforcement law/Consumer protection
[does the government enforce on consumer protection ]

-Employment laws]
[ is the government encouraging skilled immigrants with temp. permits]

-Government organization / attitude
[ does the government have a very positive attitude towards this industry]

-Competition regulation
[ are there regulation for limiting competition]

-Political Stability
[ politically , does the government have a very stable government ]

-Safety regulations
[ has the government adopted some of the modern safety regulations]

-Economic growth
[ what is the economic growth rate / what are the reasons ]

-Interest rates & monetary policies
[ are the interest rates under control / is there a sound monetary policies]

-Government spending
[is government spending is significant and is it under control ]

-Unemployment policy
[what is the employment / unemployment policies of the government ]

[ has the taxation encouraged the industry ]

-Exchange rates
[ is there well managed exchange controls and is it helping the industry]

-Inflation rates
[ is the inflation well under control ]

-Stage of the business cycle
[ is your industry is on the growth pattern]

-Consumer confidence
[ is the consumer confidence is high/ strong and if not, why ]


-Income distribution
[is there balanced income distribution policy ]

-Demographics, Population growth rates, Age distribution
[ what is population growth and why ]

-Labor / social mobility
[ what are the labor policies and is there labor mobility]

-Lifestyle changes
[ are there significant lifestyle changes taking place--more modernization/ why ]

-Work/career and leisure attitudes
[ are the population career minded and are seeking better lifestyle]

[ what are the education policies / is it successful ]

-Fashion, hypes
[are the people becoming fashion conscious ]

-Health consciousness & welfare, feelings on safety
[ are the people becoming health consciousness]

-Living conditions
[ is the living conditions improving fast and spreading rapidly]


Government research spending
[is the government spending on research and development]

Industry focus on technological effort
[are the industries focused on using improved technology]

New inventions and development
[ are new inventions being encouraged for developments]

Rate of technology transfer
[ is the rate of technology transfer is speeding up ]

(Changes in) Information Technology
[ is the information technology rapidly moving and is there government support]

(Changes in) Internet
[ is the internet usage rapidly increasing and why]

(Changes in) Mobile Technology
[is the Mobile technology rapidly developing and is there government support]
5.External Assessment

Areas for opportunities and threats

* Markets [ what is the market situation, which is forcing the change requirements
*Customers [ how can service the customer -internal / external -better .
* Industry [ is the industry trend ]
* Competition [ is it the competitive situation
*Factors of business [ causing the change]
* Technology [ is it technology change ]

Internal Assessment

Areas for strengths, weaknesses, and barriers to success

*Culture [ is the working culture change ]
* Organization [ is the organization demanding change ]
* Systems [ is it the systems change ]
* Management practices [ change in managemement process]


*Cost efficiency[ is it for cost efficiency ]
* Financial performance [ is it for financial performance improvement ]
* Quality [ is it for quality performance improvement
*Service [ is it for service performance improvement
*Technology[ is it for technology performance improvement
* Market segments [ is it for sales performance improvement
* Innovation[ is it for performance improvement
*new products[ is it for new product performance improvement
*Asset condition[ is it for financial performance improvement
*productivity[ is it for financial performance improvement









Your Core markets;
Your CORE strategic thrusts.


The arena of products, services, customers, technologies, distribution methods, and geography in which you'll compete to get results.

How can barriers be  overcome to effective decision making

One of the most common barriers in decision making is not knowing how to make a decision in the first place.
It may seem strange, but many folks do not know how specifically they actually make decisions, or they use different decision making strategies in different circumstances without realizing it.
The solution, of course, is to take the time to learn a process that works.

Other barriers to decision making concern experts. Some will defer unquestioningly to authority and make no attempt to consider whether the expert's choice actually applies to them or not. The converse of this is where someone is so internally referenced that they ignore expert advice that would actually be useful for them. They are determined to do it their own way, even with difficult decisions.

Major barriers in decision making nowadays are fear and anxiety at getting it wrong. We have this idea that there is one best solution and that anything else is second-rate. This notion sometimes leads to an excessive gathering of information to the point where sometimes the decision never actually gets made.

In a similar vein, further barriers in decision making are the desires to avoid negative consequences and unpleasant aspects. This may lead to indecision, or simply the choosing of a safe option to avoid controversy. This can be especially tricky because often times there are unexpected consequences to any decision.
The reason things are unexpected is that they are unexpected! It's just not possible to predict these. Life happens and the world is chaotic. A useful skill is to be able to use whatever occurs so that you still get to achieve your outcome. That means you keep your goal in mind, but be flexible in how you achieve it.
Life numbing barriers in decision making is the idea of allowing someone else to make the decision for you. This occurs in a more subtle form when people wait for things to happen as opposed to making them happen. It allows people not to have to take responsibility for themselves and for what occurs.
What happens here, of course, is that you end up doing what other people want all the time. The answer here is not just to learn how to make decisions, but first of all you decide that you actually want to do what you want to do, at least some of the time!

Some of the available decision making models are themselves decision making barriers. The models may seem rational and sensible but they may not necessarily reflect how humans actually make decisions. With the result that after a few poor decisions, the decision-maker loses confidence and makes decisions reluctantly, if at all.

The frames that people use for their decisions can act as barriers to decision making. 'Not thinking it through' indicates the time frame used was too short. 'What about the others?' suggests that the person is only thinking of themselves. An awareness of the frames being used and whether the decision holds true across many frames are useful considerations.

And, of course, the beliefs, assumptions, presuppositions and taboos of our culture may act as hidden barriers to decision making because we accept them unquestioningly.
Nothing like a bit of travel between many different cultures to point out to you what your own cultural beliefs are!

To a large extent, having a working model of decision making and an awareness of the processes will allow you to overcome barriers to decision making. This knowledge will sometimes mean that these barriers don't even exist and you are free to make effective decisions.
Here are some tools you can use to make better, more efficient decisions.
Tool #1—The Coin Toss
Useful for: Go/no-go decisions, weighing two options, and eliminating options when multiple choices are possible.
A coin toss can be helpful when you’re just not sure what you want and you’re having trouble making up your mind. Here’s how it works:
1. Assign one choice to each side of the coin (heads, we eat pizza; tails, we eat tacos).
2. Toss the coin.
3. Then decide.
In essence, when you toss the coin, it decides for you. If you don’t like the coin’s decision, then you clearly prefer the other choice!
Choose a problem and give it a try!
Tool #2—Ben Franklin’s Balance Sheet
Useful for: Go/no-go decisions.
The pro-and-con model is the traditional approach to quick decisions. List your pros. List your cons. Weigh the two sides and see which one wins. Ben Franklin took this a step further. Once he’d listed all his pros and cons, he weighed them against each other. If a pro was equal in importance or value to a con, he crossed both out. If two cons equaled one pro, he crossed out all three. The side with items remaining after all the crossing out was completed was the winning side.
Tool #3—The Report Card Method
Useful for: Establishing decision-making criteria and weighing multiple options to solve the same problem.
The Report Card Method is helpful when you have a variety of similar solutions that you want to compare against one another using a quantitative evaluation method. For example, you may be considering the purchase of a new copier for the office. You are considering a number of criteria and four different models. List the criteria then grade each one on a scale of 1-10—10 being the highest fulfillment of the given criteria. The highest total determines your choice.
For example, say you are considering the purchase of a new copier for the office. You are considering a number of criteria and four different models. List the criteria (i.e., prints in color, number of pages per minute, cost per copy, cost of maintenance agreement, print quality, etc.). Then grade each item for each of the four models on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest fulfillment of the given criteria. The highest total determines your choice.
Partner-in-Absentia Decision-Making Template
A very common decision-making opportunity is presented when your boss is away or inaccessible. Given your interdependent relationship, if either one of you is unavailable how should decisions get made? This anticipatory planning need lends itself to our Template Approach. So, let’s consider the Partner-in-Absentia question.
•   Begin by considering all the issues that might come up for your boss while you are away or inaccessible:
– With what types of things should your boss be concerned?
– Who should your boss turn to for assistance or consultation?
– What items, issues, projects, etc., should your boss not make decisions about?
Consider the impact of short- versus long-term absences and how your boss should adjust
his/her decision-making approach.
•   Plan what you need to know in order to make decisions when the boss is away. How will you gather this decision-making information from your boss?
– Areas of decision-making autonomy?
– Areas of consultative decision making? (List who should be consulted).
– Consider the impact of short- versus long-term absences and how you should adjust your decision making.
Because you are a true professional, when the boss is away things still run smoothly. You know his/her schedule, contacts, where his/her reports and car keys should be. You keep track of plane tickets, theater tickets, and birthdays. The world keeps turning because you are organized. But what happens when you are away?
Take a moment and think of all the things your boss might need to locate if and when you leave on that two-week trip to Hawaii (without your cell phone, of course). What will s/he need access to and where is it?
Make a list entitled “My Boss May Need to Find.” Under each item list its location. Consider building these items into your Partner-in-Absentia Template and making a copy of the compilation for your boss. If you have multiple bosses, you might want to create a customized version for each.
Moving Forward
•   Review the list of reasons people don’t make decisions. Is there a pattern to your lack of decision making? What single reason or fear can you work to overcome?
•   Look over the three decision-making models. What is one appropriate method you can apply to a decision you are currently considering?
•   Choose a deadline by which time you will create and deliver a formal Partner-in-Absentia template to your boss(es).
•   Consider the list of items your boss would need to find if you were away. Which two items will your boss most likely need to locate? Make a point to inform your boss of their location as soon as possible.


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Leo Lingham


management consulting process, management consulting career, management development, human resource planning and development, strategic planning in human resources, marketing, careers in management, product management etc


18 years working managerial experience covering business planning, strategic planning, corporate planning, management service, organization development, marketing, sales management etc


24 years in management consulting which includes business planning, strategic planning, marketing , product management,
human resource management, management training, business coaching,
counseling etc




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