A Systematic Approach to Decision-making

Ejiroghene Ekpogbe Written by Ejiroghene Ekpogbe · 2 min read >

I did not know how shallow my decision process was until I began the Analysis of Business Problems course. For me, the decision-making process simply required identifying what my problem was and what I am trying to achieve. The next step would be to identify what options I had and weigh the possibility of achieving my goal with each option. I would also weigh the risks associated with each option. Finally, I would settle for the option that has met these the most.

While I agree that decision-making requires a lot of thinking and other efforts, I did not think that the process should be deeper than it already is. Guess what? The Analysis of Business Problems sessions completely disrupted my ideas about decision-making.

The first lesson I learned from the course, is that I need to be more critical about how I process information for decision-making. I can recall the first case we treated in class; I struggled with keeping up with the lines of thoughts in the class. It was in the class I realized that I needed to put more effort into critical thinking and analysis.

As an aspiring business manager, I realize that my shallow decision-making process is rather inadequate or insufficient for the business world. I really have a lot of work to do if I must successfully deal with business problems. I am hopeful though that if I can succeed in the Analysis of business problems course, I am sure to succeed in the business world.

As the course focuses on the analysis of cases which are examples of business problems, the faculty emphasized some points we should always keep in mind:

When we pick up a case to analyze it, we will be confronted with different categories of information. These are:

  • Descriptive information: such information will give me an overview or a deeper appreciation of the situation in the case.
  • Inferential information: these are the raw facts in the case and what they indicate in the context of the issue at hand.
  • Predictive information: my inferences based on the raw facts and how I may proceed with them.

I understand that the above points will serve as a guide to analyzing cases. However, I also learned that there is a systematic or structured approach to the decision making process. This approach breaks the entire decision making process into measurable and manageable steps.  It also shows the relationship or interconnectedness of all the steps in the approach.

There are 8 steps in the systematic approach for making decisions. They are:

 Understand the situation: I can make use of the descriptive information in the case to understand what the situation is. I can do the following to understand the situation:

  1. Identify and collect all relevant information
  2. I can answer the questions Who, What, Why, Where, Who and how, in no particular order.

At this point, I should be able to distinguish relevant and irrelevant information. Not all the information contained in the case is relevant to solving the problem in the case.

Identify and define the problem: this is where I will have to create a problem statement. I am able to define my problem statement properly from my answers to the initial questions asked. My problem statement helps in framing my decision.

Define the objective: I have to be clear about the goals I want to achieve.

Generate alternatives: this is where I have to do more critical thinking because alternatives are crucial to the achievement of objectives.

Identify criteria: these are the conditions that each alternative must meet to attain the objectives.

Analyze the alternative: I also have to do more critical thinking to ascertain which alternative best meets the achievement of the established objectives.

Make a choice, take that decision: now I have to make a decision based on my analysis and findings from the preceding steps.

Develop an action plan: I have to identify the steps to take to implement the decision I have taken.

The decision-making process does not end there; I must evaluate the process.

I have learned that this process, though rigorous and time-consuming, will certainly lead me to make sound decisions both in business and other aspects of life.


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