All decisions have immense power. The power comes from within as individuals own them. Frequently, individuals feel helpless, angry, and inefficient as they believe that decisions are now owned by them and hence are apprehensive in owning them. Effective executives should recognize the power of decisions and decision making as they make important decisions all the time. They are always challenged by speed and the variety of decisions they need to make for numerous occasions. “Do or do not ….. there is no try…”. As rightly said by renounced philosopher and master Jedi Yoda; therefore, the essence of all the work; is to take decision, do the work and to act.
Decision making is a powerful tool that every manager should own and develop to succeed in his personal as well as professional life. As quoted by Peter F. Drucker, “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision”. The impact of the decision is more important than the process itself. Decisions can be theoretical, practical, empirical, example and experience based and there are many ways to look at them. Let us first start by understanding the meaning and definition of decision making.
Decision making entails choosing between the alternatives. It is defined as a process of choosing an appropriate option from the number of alternatives available for future course of action. Decision making is also considered as the highest degree cognitive process which results in the choice of alternatives in the form of beliefs, values, or preference to guide further course of selection of choice but may not guarantee an action. It can also be regarded as a problem-solving process usually faced by individuals trying to search for answers to their queries. Decision making can lead you to become a better individual and effective manager. “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, decisions and discipline to follow them”. - Jim Collins.
Looking at decision making from the perspectives of following four elements can lead managers to make wise decisions. Every decision has process, alternatives, choices, and action. Process entails the ways in which the decisions can be taken; it can be divided into steps, stages, or complex rules which individuals follow to ensure that they reach at effective decisions. Process can be intuitional, rational or rule based; depending upon the individuals and the type of decisions to be made.
Alternatives are the combinations of options available with the executives for deciding an action. At the beginning executives need to analyse where they are and where they want to go with the help of the specific decision. Alternatives help them to select the path of that decision and show the way to get there. Generating sufficient options will ensure the quality of the decision as well as efficiency of the outcome of the decisions.
Choices are the outcomes of the alternative selections. Choices are difficult to process and are usually accompanied with constraints or boundaries and context within which executives need to exercise the choice. Setting goals and objectives around the available alternatives gives clarity in making the choice clear and easy to operate. Many a times choice can be a combination of what an executive really wants, the ideal situation or choice and what he can actually get from the available choices. It will be a solution where everyone benefits if executives follow the process clearly to reach to optimum solution.
Action is the direction in which an executive works after deciding, which is the most important part of decision making. It will be pointless if no action is generated after it is over as decision making and choosing is future looking with forward orientation. Executives should focus on choosing to act while keeping the least cost and best benefits in mind. Actions also cause consequences and they can be positive or negative. Decision making also requires ensuring that the action generated has maximum positive impact and plans or remedial measures to mitigate any negative consequences which will be a part of the future decision-making process.
Now let us look at ways to make effective decisions with the help of our intuition, judgement, knowledge, and experience, together. Often managers need to be quick and speedy in their decisions and therefore require fast processing of the available information and context to make decisions and take required actions. Regardless of the options managers use the combination of all the above to make better decisions. Decisions with structured approach, sequential steps to design and develop a logical solution is known as rational decision-making approach. Here the principle assumption is that individuals are rational and they take rational decisions which is not true in all situations and there are broad factors which impact our decision making, which can be internal as well as external which management need to be cautious about while dealing with managers. Many a times there is insufficient information available along with time pressure which naturally progresses towards intuitive decision-making approach, which uses managers experience, decision rules and judgements to take the next decision. It is a short process which allows managers to think on their feet and act on the decisions a lot faster.
Decision making can also be considered as a multi-step approach in which the first step is to identify the decision which is to be taken; second, to collect and gather all relevant information related to the decision and possible outcomes and alternatives available; third, identify the alternatives and group them in terms of the priorities; fourth, evaluate the alternatives for selection of the best one to go ahead with; fifth, select the alternative and make the choice of the decision; sixth, take action and seventh, review the decision to future judgements .
So, brace yourself with the powerful tool of decision making to make that “one new congruent decision” to be successful in life.

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