Systemic Approach to Decision Making

Chukwudi Awaibe Written by Chukwudi Awaibe · 1 min read >

What we mean by decision making is fundamentally about choice. That is what Analysis of Business Problem is all about. When we say Analysis of Business Problem, we are not just analysing, we are analysing to make a decision.

In the context of doing all that analysis you will be faced with potential for serious consequences and numerous complex considerations.

By definition, difficult decisions have high stakes and serious consequences, they may involve numerous complex considerations and expose us to the judgement of others.

Taking closer look at the quote by David A. Garvin “Decision making is a process fraught with power plays, politics, personal nuances, and institutional history. Leaders who recognize this make far better decisions than those who persevere in the fantasy that decisions are events they alone control.”

What this tells us is that there are different dimensions to decision making and we need to recognise the different elements that comes into play. There are lots of interest to deal with and we need to put into consideration all interest. Making timely decision is also important. Personal biases come into play often. The politics part might be something we could start doing through interpersonal relationship on an ongoing basis.

Decision making is a holistic thing and not just how we feel or our personal views of the circumstance. It is not a single-minded approach. We need to consider all factors. The potential for significant loss when we make an error is high – like serious consequences. We may begin to think about what we mean by decision making which is all about choice. In the light of these, a systematic approach to decision making becomes necessary.

A systematic approach or process helps in the following ways:

  1. provides a framework for gathering and managing information especially in complex situations.
  2. acknowledges both subjective and objective thinking and blends analytical with intuitive thinking.
  3. helps to minimize cognitive biases that often plague our decisions.

In decision making, after you have dwelt with all the so-called criteria, you need some sort of cosmetic criteria to help tip the balance. We must recognise that even if after all the so-called objective things have been considered, there are certain other things to put on top of it to help you make a more sustainable decision. All our cognitive biases should never come into play.

Having a systematic and structured approach to decision making is not magic. You can have a structured approach that is bugged down with biases. Fundamentally, decision making is driven by the quality of information one has. The quality of information is a function of how you have processed the information and what kind of conclusion you have arrived because of the information. Different people can interpret same thing in different ways. The question will be what thinking drove the conclusion we arrived at concerning that thing.

A systematic process simply gives us a framework within which we can apply our critical thinking skills. Which is driven by questions and openness to information and data in other to make sustainable decisions.

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