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Unlike the strategies used in the previous section which tell you what to do, it is possible to learn how to make good decisions. It is possible to learn the process of making good strategic decisions by practiced deciding. This Web site is about practiced deciding, to which you must give enough thought. You will learn how to use your own abilities within a focused and structured decision process to actively and pro-actively make decisions. Active decision-making involves a responsible choice that you must make, while pro-active decision making is the practice of making decisions in advance just like "in the case of fire".

Decision Problems or Decision Opportunities: At one time or another, organizations develop an over-abundance of decision problems. Sometimes they can be linked to organizational trauma, like down sizing, budget restraints or workload increases, but sometimes they evolve over time with no apparent triggering event. Increased complaining, a focus on reasons why things can't be done, and what seems to be a lack of active role characterize the "problem" organization. If the manager is walking negative and talking in a negative way, staff will follow.

In many instances we forget to find positives. When an employee makes an impractical solution, we are quick to dismiss the idea. We should be identifying the effort while gently discussing the idea. Look for small victories, and talk about them. Turning a problem into an opportunity is a result of many little actions. Provide positive recognition as soon as you find out about good performance. Do not couple positive strokes with suggestions for improvement. Separate them. Combining them devalues the recognition for many people. It is easy to get caught in the general complaining and bitching, particularly in customers' complains.
Decisions are an inevitable part of human activities. It requires the right attitude. Every problem, properly perceived, becomes an opportunity. In most situations the decision-maker must view the problems as opportunities rather than solving problems. For example, suppose you receive a serious complaint letter from a dissatisfied customer. You may turn this problem into an opportunity by finding out more about what is wrong with the product/service, learning from the customer's experience in order to improve the quality of your product/service. It all depends on the decision-maker's attitude. A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.

A deliberate effort to broaden your experiences is the single most helpful effort in making good decisions. By exposing yourself to a variety of different experiences causes you to look at things from different perspectives. This provides you with extra mind-eyes to see problems and issues, and compare them to apparently unrelated situations and see new opportunities.

Search process approach by diagramming: Most of your decisions can be made using your past experiences and some strategic thinking. You may encounter problems where one wrong decision could have adverse long-term effects and lead to severe mistakes and considerable failures. In many situations, small bad decisions turn out to have important consequences, as for example, in air traffic accidents. When things go wrong, one may try to discover the causes for it. In these types of decision problems that some historical knowledge and experience, the decision-maker may apply a search process to find the main factors that cause the problem. This will enable the decision-maker to make the appropriate decisions and take the necessary steps to remedy the situation.

From the start of human history, diagrams have been pervasive in communication. The role of diagrams and sketches in communication, cognition, creative thought, and decision-making is a growing field. Consider the question: "why has profit declined?" The following diagram contains a search process by diagraming for this decision problem:

The Search Process approach
Subjective and Objective Decision-Making: Your decisions might be categorized in two groups with possible overlaps in some cases. One category is subjective decision-making which are private, such as how you want to live your life, or decide on something just because "It feels good". In subjective decisions you might also consider your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The other group of decisions is objective, purely unemotional decision-makings, which are public, and require one to "Step outside one" so that you can discount your emotions. For example, a CIO deciding for the company must ask among other questions, "Can I convince the shareholders?" This group of decision-making involves responsibility, which requires rational, defensible and accountable decisions. Therefore, the first group consists of private decisions which might involve emotion, and the second is almost entirely based on rational decision-making. However, the really hard decisions involve a combination of both. The difficulty might arise from the fact that emotions and rational strategic thinking are on two different sides of the human brain, and in difficult decisions one must be able to use both sides simultaneously. The following table contains the two extreme approaches of human's mind, namely the pure-subjectivity and the pure-objectivity:

characteristics of "Good" decision makers:

  • Having a high tolerance for ambiguity.
  • Having a well-ordered sense of priorities.
  • Being a good listener.
  • Always building the consensus around a decision.
  • Avoiding stereotypes.
  • Remaining resilient with feedbacks.
  • Being comfortable with both soft and hard input.
  • Being realistic about cost and difficulty.
  • Avoiding a decision minefield.


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