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Decision-Making Model Paper
Life is full of decisions. Some of them are trivial, like for example: should I choose this newspaper or another? Which kind of dish should I choose from the menu? Other decisions are hard to evaluate and vital, like for example: should I put my private life first or I should privilege professional aspects, should I take this new job opportunity to relocate somewhere else? Some decisions can affect many people, others only yourself. An appropriate decision making plays a major role in the success of any business management. The success of the business and projects depends on the decision making quality of the management and leadership. Making good decisions is fundamental to obtain a good performance in organization. There are some decisions that can have huge consequences, which can change the organizational roles and the company operation processes. The daily choices that organizations have to take are always subject to variations, this is a continuous process of making reactions and consequences; a circle in which each person has a role.
Without an appropriate and good decision making, leaders and managers are not able to achieve projects and business objectives. Good decision making is not an easy task for a manager, because there are many potential factors that can influence the decision making process, such as environmental, cultural, economic and physiological factors. One of the main impediments and barriers related to good decision making is the lack of information, because in decision making if a manager takes a decision based on an improper or insufficient data this can have an impact on the success of the decision. In addition, without having a proper information, managers are not able to take correct decisions. Moreover, due to lack of time and resources, managers are usually unable to collect appropriate and sufficient elements and this obviously contributes to make bad decisions. Lacking of availability of sufficient, reliable and proper information also implies an impact on manager’s decision making. Another factor that may affect decision making is when managers have poor ideas. This is an impediment in a decision making situation because on the basis of poor arguments, managers will not take good decisions. Ideas play a major role in decision making, as on the basis of different ideas of a given problem managers take decisions related to the situation. In addition, if the idea is wrong the probability of succeeding is very low. For example, if a manager is looking for improving the profit, but is only focusing on cost reduction and cut expenses, this won’t work as he would expect in optimizing resources utilization and improving production in order to achieve higher profit. So, without good ideas and better solutions, managers’ decision making is not effective for the business. The five steps of the decision making process that should be identified when facing a problem are: define the problem, generate and evaluate alternatives, decide course of action, implement the decision and evaluate the results. In this essay I’m going to present two different decision-making approaches. I’m also going to describe a decision that I made while working for a previous company using the five steps of the decision making process and I’ m going to highlight how critical thinking had an impact on that decision. The following model is a decision-making schema that I applied to reach a decision. FRAMING
- Clarify purpose and boundaries of the decision
- Gather information
- Identify who is affected by the decision
- Identify who is in charge to make the decision (an individual or a group)
- Identify what experience or knowledge is needed to make the decision
- Determine what information or resources are available on decision making process topic
- Define by when the decision needs to be made
- Communicate to affected parties who is in charge for decision making and the reasons for it
- Define how the decision will be approved (consensus, voting, etc.)
- Use appropriate tools that support data gathering (affinity diagram, how-how, interrelationship digraph, fishbone, flowcharts)
- Make the decision through ideas and data integration, negotiation and ideas prioritization
- Identify who (individual or group) will implement the decision
- Summarize the rationale for the decision
- Communicate the decision, why it was done and the reasons for it
- Define the steps in implementing the decision including completion timeframes
- Define the method to report when something is done and who will get the report
- Identify the process for assessing impact of decision
We can define critical thinking as, "The general term given to a wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions needed to effectively identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments and truth claims, to discover and overcome personal prejudices and biases, to formulate and present convincing reasons in support of conclusions, and to make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do". In other words, critical thinking consists in being able to look at information critically. It implies asking questions about the information presented and then analyzing the answers. It means using the answers to create new ideas, solve problems, and make decisions. Critical thinking is imperative to making sound decisions using a decision-making model”. This was an example of a quite simple decision that I had to take in occasion of company department restructuration, while working for the previous company. Top management decided to swap and merge a few departments that were reporting to several managers, this was done mainly to reduce staff costs and optimize project organization flows, as few roles and departments were overlapping. I was chosen as manager for supporting and “redesigning” the new staff reorganization. I decided then to proceed step by step: The first one was to get acquainted with my team, the second was to involve managers of the other departments to understand if the teams were optimally organized, team activities, head counts, ongoing projects, internal problems, workflows etc. At the end of my analysis I had to revert top management with my findings on team organization, about what could be done in order to increase team efficiency and productivity, and I had to provide my hints on how to rearrange them. I decided then to use decision-making model to determine and evaluate what needed to be done, and if any organizational changes should to be done, if opt to merge departments with others, if hire or fire people. As part of the model framing process, I knew that I had to take the decisions alone and that this would potentially impact the company structure and business. However, I wanted to get the input also from the other managers, since they were more knowledgeable regarding the strengths of each team member and they were familiar with the dynamics, which tend to arise when working in groups. I did not want to inform, or announce, any implementation or changes too quickly to avoid any kind of shock, like having to report to a new boss or being relocated somewhere else or fired. In the deciding phase I met each individual manager for a face-to-face coffee break. I had previously prepared a list of questions that I was going to ask them, which I would cover during our conversation. I shared that my goal was to get to know each of them deeply and find out something more about their team, their feelings and thoughts about company businesses and activities. I also encouraged them to ask questions, in their turn. I questioned them about their perception concerning their position in the group, their development plans, and I requested them what they would have changed about the group if they were top managers. I spent about a week in order to be able to gather all the information through this process. I found out that the staff was organized fairly well, with a few exceptions, and the teams were working on almost the same topics (different resources from different teams were working on same topics - waste of time/resources – and this was happening mainly because teams were not communicating to each other, so people were not informed that they were working on the same projects). The overall outcome was anyway really good and I decided to make only two minor changes and a major one: I decided to move two teammates to different teams within the same group and to merge two teams in order to increase overall productivity and efficiency and to establish weekly meetings among team managers to avoid any double activities and to let all of them share weekly updates and results. As part of the communication phase I referred my proposed changes to top management, that validated my decision and I shared rationale behind my organization changes with them. Changes were implemented while talking on a new project for the teams. I spoke with the impacted colleagues, communicating that I needed their specialized skill sets in their new groups. They showed to acknowledge the news well and they continued to be satisfied on their new teams. I went on keeping periodic one-to-one meetings with my staff and the other managers. During those meetings I had to assess the impact of my decisions. Another kind of decision that I had I had to take was about my career plan. I spent the last 2 years working within finance field and this has had a great impact in a lot of ways, both in my professional and private life. I have been able to create a pleasant environment with my colleagues and have appreciated my collaboration with the company. They used to say and believe that the fundamental aspect in your job activity to perceive a great passion on what you do and enjoy while doing it. I have been able to follow the advice and in fact I continue to improve myself in order to effectively perform my work. It isn’t easy to cope with the responsibility linked to making decisions within a company. Moreover making the right decision becomes even more painful when your own feelings are involved. Being in charge of international teams, my work implies examination and supervision of the work done by my teammates, work with different people across different continents, cultures, religions and ways of thinking. The job is not easy to do because there are people who will take it personally when you control some aspects of their work and their quality results. There are people, who answer “yes, I got it”, even if they don’t understand. Being involved in a few project reviews that include wide and complex projects is a very hard situation to manage, as my role sometimes involves decisions that may not be in favor of team mates. Moreover, it is sometimes hard understand their enrollment and support to the project tasks or their participation in different project aspects. I cannot avoid being deeply concerned with the situation and with its possible consequences in other people life’s, because they have a personal direct report line and they know me. I still don’t manage to accept the fact that some people could do things against the company without following assigned tasks.
There are of course also decisions that need a proper judgement like when choosing between personal life and your work. A practical example is when you are faced with the problem of refusing an assignment because there is a family matters to attend. It might be the case that you choose to be absent from work in order to take some time for yourself. One of the hardest decisions that I had to take in these two years was about issuing an end contract review to one of my teammates. Thus part of my responsibility is to interview new candidates that will join my team and to monitor their results. One of them has been diagnosed with a mental disease and this was a piece of information they used against her. During her apparent ship she didn’t show any sign of her illness. In fact I had found her an efficient and effective collaborator, thanks to of her patience, intelligence, and as well as willingness on learning and improving her knowledge in the field. After three weeks, and in reason of my recommendation, to give her access to widen her learning experience within the company operativity, the Compliance Officer decided to introduce her in the operation team as junior assistant for a period of two months. During her training, I was informed by her line supervisor that she experienced sudden attack of hallucination. The news took me by surprise and deeply affected me because I didn’t suspect such a terrible truth. Human Resources wasn’t acquainted at all regarding her health problem and for this reason they were unable to communicate me the results of her background inquiries. I was asked by her line manager to conduct a thorough evaluation of her case and consequently to report my findings on her status to company top management. In reason of this insufficient investigation carried out by Human Resources, I found myself in the unpleasant situation of not knowing how to proceed on her present status with our HR Dept. Of course there is a labor law that has to be taken in consideration concerning company protection. Her school reports were good like her previous professional experience, but her disease generated doubts in me about her ability to perform her daily tasks and the impact of her illness on other co-workers. The decision has to be done before the apprentice ship period ends. Through assessment, I finally decided to recommend closing her contract with the company, because of the effect of her mental disease to the general team results, or like the impact that high workload and pressure will result on her disease. I had to set aside my empathy, in order to privilege the whole company. She couldn’t afford too much pressure on herself, she would have suffered much more and this might not be helpful for her case. The working environment within the company is extremely competitive, thus I continually check my results and evaluate to invest in further education. I trusted the management and I set aside too much of my private life for the company but unfortunately in the end I was deceived. This disappointment made me doubt about management effectiveness to support me in any further career development. As long as I love my job and colleagues I work with, I have to consider carefully all options and evaluate other future possible alternatives. My frustrations started when I requested the management to let me lead different team operations, in order to be able to concentrate on my academic studies and simultaneously experience new challenges, since operations are a very demanding area of the financial companies undertakings. Being a business oriented person, I feel the necessity to look for more challenges and as I’m already in IT management since more than 10 years it no longer provides me the challenges and motivations I need. I thus asked the management to relocate me to other areas aiming to improve my skills in other ways. Unfortunately the request was refused and I was kept in the same position. Furthermore, my supervisor, our Chief Financial Officer resigned and a good percentage of his workload was transferred to me, without even opting for a promotion. I performed his functions as additional to mine, so at the end my job was involving multi-tasking activities. In a practical thinking environment, I was expecting a career advance or promotion, but unfortunately my request was put aside for more than three months. As a consequence I’m unsatisfied with my current job position and, at the present moment while experiencing a serious doubt concerning the decision whether to stay or leave the group. Management choice not to support me in impeding me to pursue my education has been a great disappointment to me. I was unhappy with the way in which the Human Resources dept. managed the situation and left me no option but to resigned and abandon the company. The decision to continue to work for the same company is very difficult for me because I loved the job and the people. The company has been my second home, but in a professional perspective. I have the impression that I am no longer in the right place because I now experience discontentment, which would greatly affect the quality of my work if I stayed. I have taken into considerations a lot of options and alternatives for my future. I have different sensations about my resignation, because in many ways I am afraid facing the many changes that this decision may lead to after resigning. These uncertain include dealing with new companies, new working context and groups or new bosses. Moreover the fact that I might not find a suitable job immediately has given me a frustrating feeling of inadequacy and incompetence. I have been working for years and now I realize that I could be forced to stay at home with nothing to do. This prospective frightens me a lot, because I cannot stand idleness, even for a short period of time. All of these uncurtains must be solved, otherwise I won’t realize that I can still get a lot of satisfaction from my business life. I am still young and there are so many open opportunities just waiting for me. Therefore, my decision has been taken: I am perfectly determined to accept “job-hunting challenge” again. I believe in my skills and possibilities to pursue and find the “dream job” I am looking for. Consciously or unconsciously, decisions are taken daily, at work or at home. These decisions can involve and affects individuals, groups, or families. The more crucial a decision is, the more it requires thorough evaluation and critical thinking, counterbalancing the positive and negative issues it could lead too. Having a global picture is always good as it will help to become a good manager and improve the ability to make good decisions. A decision-making model is a good process to obtain optimum decisions.
References: Critical Thinking (Bassham Irwin, Nardone Wallace)