Judgement and Decision making

This week, I was faced with a dilemma. Do I spend a little cash on a household item, or preserve it to support a friend’s event? I could not find a way out of this small decision quickly enough. At the office, I overheard my manager trying to negotiate a conversation that involved 3 organizations, and 2 events in a space of 4 days. He asked the person on the line to go with his gut, and make the decision. 

Decision making is part of everyone’s life and all of us have to make decisions every moment. As an aspiring fashionista, every morning I am faced with choices on what to wear, to what to eat, to where we live and work. There are bigger decisions such as whom to get married to and how many children to have.

It may be easy to take a decision when you are veiled behind another person making it. Often, in the workplace, your manager is playing this role. But what are the true skills and competencies needed to make decision making an integral part of modern management? When faced with important decisions, individuals have a tendency to think and question before performing which is fruitful in analyzing and forecasting an individual’s behavior in the area of making decisions. The ability  for individuals to make their own decisions lies in the fact that one is generally in a position to know what is in their best interest, and can thus select the action where the consequences of that action provide the most benefit (as judged by the decision maker).

The challenge however is that one doesn’t always have the skills and expertise to confidently make the decision. They cannot ascertain which action will generate the most benefit. This makes it sometimes advisable to allow another person to assist in making the decision, or make the decision on their behalf. But in this case, it is imperative that the surrogate decision maker is provided with a clear objective function for how they will assess the “benefit” each possible outcome for each action, as they cannot otherwise know exactly what is in the best interests of the individual they are working for.

Likewise in an organizational context, it is worthwhile to note that decision making is facilitated with the right kind of complete information. For teams, the ability to synthesize and make sense of the information will be critical. We also find in management, that the authority delegated to the decision, regardless of their organizational rank is imperative if they are to make good decisions and execute them effectively.

Noteworthy is that, organizational performance in its simplistic state consists of the realization of hundreds and thousands of team and individual decisions to yield measurable objectives. The burden of achieving high performance within any organization lies directly on the organizational management whose backbone is making and implementing decisions which are effective in achieving the goals and objectives of the organization. This can only be achieved through effective decisions-those which produce the intended results.

Therefore, it is a prerequisite for all decision makers to develop the skills they need to make decisions quickly and translate them into consistent actions by themselves or their implementer, because we know that high performing organizations mesh individuals’ capabilities with good managerial decisions. They invest the much needed time to ensure that people have the skills required to be better decision makers over time.