Decision Making


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A powerpoint slideshow designed to help people take well-considered decisions using a step-by-step methodical technique.

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  • In the next 45 minutes, let’s consider what is decision making, kinds of decision making and the step-by-step process of decision making.
  • Decision making is the art and science of choosing the available alternatives to attain our chosen goal. It is the process and the act of reaching a conclusion.
  • Decisions may relate to trivial issues such as what to eat, which tv serial to watch or how to spend tomorrow evening.
  • At a slightly higher plane, decisions may relate to subjects such as your career, your long term goals and your future.
  • If you are in business or profession, you may have to take several decisions regularly about what field to enter, how long to stay and when to leave.
  • On a much more serious level, you will have to take decisions that change the course of your life – such as whom to marry, to work in India or fly abroad, to join or convert to an ideological movement. These decisions need a very careful thought and a very systematic approach.
  • There is no need to emphasize the significance of decisions. Decisions can make us or mar us. As we have already seen, good, timely and well thought-out decisions mean success and bad decisions mean failure. The first decision that we need to take is to decide what we want out of our lives, where we want to go. In other words, we have to set or decide our goals. Every move that we make after that should steer us in that direction.
  • The easiest, the most unscientific process of decision making is by tossing a coin. When both the alternatives are equally unimportant or equally important and there aren’t any serious risks in either of the alternatives, a coin flip may be useful. To decide who should bat first in a cricket match or who should serve first a tennis game, drawing lots may be the best course of decision making. It is a friendly and non-controversial decision making process. But we certainly cannot decide whom we should marry by picking up a chit.
  • A second way of decision making is the impulsive way when we take decisions based on our experience. If something worked the last time, it should logically work this time as well and if something did not work, there is no point in trying that again. Intuitive decision making is a convenient tool to help us decide when we have already-tried alternatives from the past and the situation is similar again. It works on the principle of precedents.
  • The third and the most useful decision making technique is the analytical process in which we carefully weigh the pros and cons of each possible alternative and take a well thought-out and well considered decision. We go through a series of logical steps before arriving at the decision.
  • Here is a simple three step analytical approach to decision making. Consider the issue from three angles – for what final purpose are we taking this decision, what are the alternatives available and what risks are involved in each alternative – and then choose the most suitable alternative. This approach is fairly comprehensive and holistic.
  • The Co6 Approach is my own name for this decision making technique. The six Co’s stand for Construct, when we clearly identify the problem to be resolved or the opportunity available; Collect, when we gather all available data; Compile, when we organize the gathered data into information for further processing; Compare, when each available option is evaluated; and Commit, when we select the best available and the most preferred option. Then, going a little beyond decision making, we Consolidate by acting on the decision that has already been taken.
  • This is the first stage of analytical decision making. We need to identify the exact problem and why that problem needs to be resolved. In other words, this is the stage when we consider the objective of our decision making and define the problem on hand.
  • During this second stage of decision making, we gather data relating to the problem and consider the different factors involved. Gathering data can best happen by asking ourselves every possible question about the issue on hand.
  • How do we collect this data? What questions can we ask ourselves to arrive at the data? All that we want to know can be known by asking ourselves the what, why, when, how, where and who questions.
  • In this third stage, we list all the available alternatives to resolve the problem. We prepare a detailed list of requirements to be met for each alternative. We should also finalize the criteria to judge the shortlisted alternatives.
  • This is the fourth stage in the analytical decision making when we evaluate the alternatives available. We carefully consider the pros and cons of each of the shortlisted alternatives. We also consider if something could go wrong.
  • One of the techniques used to compare available choices is paired comparison. In this technique, we put the alternatives side by side and juxtapose them. After evaluating their relative strengths and weaknesses, we select the best alternative that has the greatest advantage.
  • A similar tool that can be used to compare and contrast the available alternatives is the pareto analysis method. When several competing alternatives are available we list them in a table, score them according to their weightages, and pick up the alternative that has the highest score.
  • Grid analysis is a kind of pareto analysis. When we have several good options and different factors that could influence our decisions, we use a grid in which options are our rows and factors and their weightages are our columns. We score each option carefully and pick up the one that has the highest score.
    Let us look at an example grid.
  • This kind of a Grid is a great tool to help take a decision analytically. The choices available are in the rows and the factors affecting the decision are in the columns. Each factor is assigned a weightage. We choose the alternative with the highest score. Let us take a look at a grid that I used recently.
  • I wrote the shortlisted car options in the rows and the factors affecting my decision in the columns. I gave weightage to the factors. Remember, the weightage differs on our individual needs and preferences. You may draw a similar grid to help yourself take a decision. For instance, if you have a few job offers from different companies, write the offers in the rows and factors such as pay packet, work culture, security, working hours, scope for growth in the columns. Give each factor a weightage and calculate the scores.
  • Let’s now go to the fifth stage of decision making. Once we have chosen the best available alternative, we need to commit ourselves to that decision by transforming that decision into action. We need to execute it with all our commitment.
  • This sixth stage is going beyond decision making. We not only commit to a decision and execute it but follow it up by strengthening our efforts until that decision begins giving us the expected results. Any mid-field modifications, if necessary, may be made. Discover any lessons that might be learnt for future use.
  • We become capable of taking good decisions as we gain experience. But paradoxically, experience comes through bad decisions and failures.
  • If you can take only three of the four passengers on your flight, whom will you discard.
    Not an easy decision.
    Try the flip coin method.
    Try the intuitive method.
    And now try the analytical method.
    As you gather and compile and compare data about the alternatives, you decision becomes more and more analytical and logical.
  • These are some of the factors that influence our decisions.
  • Here are some tips that help you take better decisions.
  • Always put yourself in the centre and consider how a decisin is going to affect your life.
  • Be ready to face the consequences of your decisions.
  • Don’t be too very rigid about your decision.
    If it is not working, you need to modify it.
  • Don’t waver.
  • Don’t be unnecessarily over cautious.
  • Read the last two lines of this poem of Robert Frost. One decision made all the difference.
  • Decision Making

    2. 2. m n RAJU Decision making CHOOSING from among alternatives for attaining a goal. The act of reaching a conclusion.
    3. 3. m n RAJU Fun decisions what food to eat
    4. 4. m n RAJU Career decisions what course to study
    5. 5. m n RAJU Business decisions which to enter & when to quit
    6. 6. m n RAJU Life decisions whom to marry
    7. 7. m n RAJU The first step to get what you want out of your life: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT good, timely and well-considered decisions
    8. 8. m n RAJU DECISION TYPES - 1 Coin Toss Decision Making
    9. 9. m n RAJU DECISION TYPES - 2 Intuitive Decision Making - impulsive - based on experience
    10. 10. m n RAJU DECISION TYPES - 3 Analytical Decision Making - well considered - step by step
    11. 11. m n RAJU O - Objectives to attain A - Alternatives available R - Risks possible OAR approach
    12. 12. m n RAJU Co6 Approach
    13. 13. m n RAJU CONSTRUCT What precisely is the problem? Why should it be solved? For what purpose is the decision? ?
    14. 14. m n RAJU COLLECT What factors are involved? Ask questions. Brainstorm. Gather data.
    15. 15. m n RAJU COLLECT I keep six honest serving-men They taught me all I knew; Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who. - Rudyard Kipling
    16. 16. m n RAJU COMPILE Organize the data. List all possible choices. List requirements to be met. Fix criteria to judge alternatives.
    17. 17. m n RAJU COMPARE Consider from different perspectives. Determine pros and cons of each. Evaluate each choice. Consider what might go wrong.
    18. 18. m n RAJU Paired Comparison Ideal to compare two or more options. Prepare a T chart of pros and cons. Evaluate their relative importance. Select the one with the most advantages.
    19. 19. m n RAJU Pareto Analysis List competing options. Score them appropriately. Work on the option with highest score.
    20. 20. m n RAJU Many good options and many factors. List options as rows & factors as columns Give weightage. Score each option. Select the one with highest score. Grid Analysis
    21. 21. m n RAJU Factor 1 Weightage Factor 2 Weightage Factor 3 Weightage Factor 4 Weightage Total Score Choice A Choice B Choice C Choice D Grid Analysis
    22. 22. m n RAJU Factors & Weightage Power Safety Economy Luxury Total 25 40 20 15 100 Tata Manza Swift Desire Maruti SX4 Honda City Alternatives What Car to Buy?
    23. 23. m n RAJU COMMIT Determine the best decision. Transform that decision into action. Make your decision work. Execute it.
    24. 24. m n RAJU CONSOLIDATE Check if your decision is working. Modify, if necessary. Strengthen your efforts. Figure out lessons for reuse.
    25. 25. m n RAJU Practice decision making "Sir, What is the secret of your success?" "Good decisions." "And how do you make good decisions?“ "Experience." "And how do you get experience?“ "Bad decisions."
    26. 26. m n RAJU Decide who should be discarded: 1. A PREGNANT WOMAN 2. AN IMMORAL PRIESTESS 3. AN OLD FILM ACTOR 4. A WISE POLITICIAN Decide who should be discarded: 1. THE WOMAN has AIDS 2. THE PRIESTESS is socially active 3. THE FILM ACTOR is being considered for an Oscar 4. THE POLITICIAN has terrorist links Decide who should be discarded: 1. THE WOMAN is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. THE PRIESTESS is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. THE FILM ACTOR is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. THE POLITICIAN is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Decide who should be discarded: 1. A WOMAN 2. A PRIESTESS 3. A FILM ACTOR 4. A POLITICIAN
    27. 27. m n RAJU Factors Affecting Decisions  Goals  Priorities  Attitude  Perception  Style  Demands  Risks  Resources  Judgment  Values
    28. 28. m n RAJU TIPS Avoid snap decisions. Write down the pros and cons. Move fast on the reversible ones. Move slowly on the non-reversible.
    29. 29. m n RAJU You are your top priority. How will it affect you? Will you be a better person? Can you be yourself and live your own life? You are #1 “Mine own applause is the only applause which matters.” Cicero.
    30. 30. m n RAJU Be responsible for your decisions. Be prepared for consequences. Don’t be a victim of others’ decisions. Take responsibility
    31. 31. m n RAJU Be flexible Changing decision could change your life. Revise at the RIGHT time. Successful people: Quick, correct decisions & slow changes. Others: Slow, wrong decisions & frequent changes
    32. 32. m n RAJU Be decisive Not deciding is not “not going wrong.” Indecision is a very poor decision. A decision to not take action is different.
    33. 33. m n RAJU Be not overcautious Don’t be excessively cautious Don’t wait for the ‘best’ Don’t try to be 100% safe Failure is possible Too much of thought & little action is bad
    34. 34. m n RAJU Be not overconfident Believing we can take best decisions Overestimating our decision making skills Overly confident about ability to predict Being blind to other possibilities
    35. 35. m n RAJU “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The Road Not Taken
    36. 36. m n