Decision making is a complex process that allows us to be successful in our personal and professional lives. It may be defined as the solution among several alternatives in a particular course of action. A decision is the outcome of a hunch, intuition, and planning. It is here to support us in achieving goals. Decision making has been seen as a managerial position in the past, but in modern organizations, people from all levels have to make decisions on customers, colleagues, process, projects, etc.
The decision-making process has several important features:
- It implies an existing set of alternatives to choose from;
- The process is extremely dynamic and involves different parties;
- Decisions are seen as a way to achieve identified goals;
- The decision maker has the freedom to follow the decision taken;
- Decision making is an ongoing process, present to support task or goal completion;
- The process of decision making is intellectual and rational, demanding involvement and activity;
The most impactful role in this complex process is one of the decision makers. It takes responsibility for decisions and their impact. If you are the decision maker you will have to take a decision in three main areas: resource allocation; direction to purpose and monitoring and checking.
Everyone makes efforts to respond to the challenges and pressures of the environment and decide how to cope with them. The function of the decision is to ensure the determination of the right course of action at the right time, regarding the circumstances from the environment.
If you are like most of the average persons you probably involve in your decision-making process these types of decisions:
Programmed decisions – this type includes decisions applied to routine tasks and repetitive work
Non-programed decisions – who include problems that result from unstructured situations. They are often aimed at problems that are not very well defined.
Initiative decisions – who involve situations when the person has to act fast according to the circumstances in a particular situation.
Decisions under certainty or uncertainty and risk conditions – they occur when there is a certainty of achieving results or maybe uncertainty involving a particular element of risk in the situation and decision-making process.
Personal decisions – these decisions are one-man decisions. The need for them evolves when a person has to take a personal decision on plans and set of activities for him/her.
Individual or group decisions – these opposing decisions are a complex way to involve the individual position into a group decision and strategy.
Institutional decisions – these decisions relay to scheduling or policymaking. They cover various activities included in programs and schedules
Strategy decisions – This type of decisions involves managers or leaders in a process where they have to decide who should be involved in what and why. This type of decisions is often part of the implementation process for institutional decisions.
One thing you must accept is that there is no structured way to make a decision. There are no right and wrong steps. The process of decision making goes through several steps but has to be adaptive and flexible to bring the best in the class decision on the table.
To help you with your choice of the best decision I’m sharing with you several steps that helped me to make decisions in my work and life:
RECOGNIZING AND DEFINING THE PROBLEM
If you want to implement the best decision you will have to focus on defining and the real problem in the situation. Once you do that you will build a clear perception of the problem you are defining. After defying you will be able easily to define conditions ensuring a proper and working solution. The objective should be balanced between short, mid and long term goals.
ANALYSIS AND DIAGNOSIS
Your next step should focus you on analyzing the nature of the problem and finding the facts. Classifying found facts will help you to understand not only the nature of the problem but also define who must take the decision, who will consult in the process and who has to be informed about the decision taken. Taking into consideration all this you will ensure that the decision is clear and will be converted into real actions.
You, or the person making the decision and planning activities for success, must define what outcome will be defined as success, after implementing decision activities. The criteria you must use have to include factors answering the question “How the decision and activities, following after, are going to be accepted in terms of personal and cultural values and values of the organization.
If you want to have a choice you will have to create several opportunities. This can easily be achieved by thinking on alternatives to the main decision. The alternatives are the means of compelling us to look at our assumption, examine it and test its validity. The phase of the search for a solution places the individual on a scale for creativity, measuring how creative this individual can become to bring the best decision to live. Though the alternative solutions may not ensure making the right decision, they can prevent you from taking the wrong decision as you can see if you conduct a deep analysis of the situation and the problem you are solving.
In getting all the facts you need to ask yourself did you get enough information to help you build and implement the best decision. Here is where you have to decide on the validity of the data you have collected. A large number of decisions are based on insufficient knowledge about situations and problems. This often happens when there is not enough information available or when the time you have to invest in getting this information is too long.
The decision can be still right if you don’t have all the data you need but know what data you are missing. This can help you to build a decision and set of alternatives involving only information that is validated.
Implementing the best solution your criteria for success
Before you decide on what is the best solution among all the alternatives you have built, you must consider five different evaluation criteria for this decision:
Level of risk – with this criteria you will need to examine the risk you will take by either implementing one or another decision by analyzing possible consequences for several alternatives.
Level of efforts – you must consider the amount and level of efforts you will invest in implementing a particular decision. Consider the number of changes you will have to make during the implementation process and the results you will get at the end.
Friendly tip: It is always useful to do that analysis to realize how much a particular decision is worth going through an implementation process.
Time investment In terms of effectiveness – There is no reason to invest too much time in a decision that will lead nowhere or won’t have a strong impact on changing the current situation or reality. While delayed actions are not a good decision, the haste must prove to be more damaging than helping. Any decision you implement has to be timed well to ensure effectiveness and positive impact on change.
Resources limitations – Before implementing a decision you must also consider the amount of of-of resources you possess to ensure smooth and successful implementation. When choosing from different alternatives you must do it by taking in consideration three major factors:
Experience – this includes past experience with similar decisions and implementation processes to ensure there is high ground for starting the process and ensuring its end successfully.
Experimentation readiness – here you must consider the level of readiness to experiment with different alternatives. If there is a low level of experimentation readiness then you must focus only on short term decisions without expecting an impact in mid or long term future.
Any decision has to be made effective in action. There is no reason for a decision to be made if there no actions to support it in practice. When making a decision you will have to ensure that there is also a well-planned way of implementation of this decision that can ensure after implementation of an increase in effectiveness, productivity, satisfaction, and engagement. If you don’t have al, the factors in place then you better think of an alternative of the decision you have made.