What is a Decision?
To recap last week’s article that started this topic of making decisions, a decision is a choice between various ways of accomplishing a particular task or goal. Decision making is NOT problem solving. Decision making is a component of the problems solving process and why I chose to present the decision process first. The two processes are complimentary but not synonymous.
7 Steps to Effective Decisions
These are the 7 steps in making effective decisions:
- Establishing Objectives
- Setting Priorities of Objectives
- Developing Alternatives
- Choosing an Interim Solution
- Assessing Results
- Implementing Controls
How To Make the Best Decision Every Time
Making a decision is the most important task any manager will perform during his career. Unfortunately, there is little formal training provided to managers or employees in the art and science of making decisions.
Over the next few posts I will provide a thorough explanation of the process and of the mechanisms needed for effective decision making. As a bonus, I will include guidelines for ensuring the decision remains effective, once made.
STEP 1 – Establishing Objectives
The first step in solving any problem, whether simple or very complex, is to list the objectives and state them clearly. The adage “A problem well-defined is half-solved” is one of the few that hold true.
The questions to ask during the definition phase are: What are you trying to accomplish? What is to be done? Be VERY Specific – ask: What kind? How much? By When? Where?
Every decision is a transaction where a manager uses a portion of her resources to accomplish something. Since resources are finite, this choice required something else to be left undone. These are the are 2 of the variables in the decision making process:
The results expected or desired, and The resources to be committed.
STEP 2 – Classifying the Objectives
After you have completely defined the objectives of the decision, the next step is to classify or rank each of the objectives by their importance to the business.
These classifications are broken down into two categories – “must have” and “want to have”. This system of ranking is not complicated but the multiple needs of the business situation makes this process critical and possibly contentious.
There are 2 keys to the “must have” items. The first is that they are items that cannot be eliminated from the project; they are truly non-negotiable issues. The second is to set maximum and minimum performance limits and resource requirements for each of these “must have” items. The max/min requirement increases the chances accomplishing the goal by permitting the manager to prune the goals that are too costly to implement early in the project.
There are always options or “wants” included in any project or decision. The risk of these “wants” is that they become “musts” during the most insidious of all project killers, “Feature Creep”. To help prevent this, list all “wants” and rank them in relation to all other “wants”. This sets their priority in the development process.
Once these musts and wants are agreed-to and documented, do not change them without agreement from the same team that set them. Any changes to scope of the project will most likely delay the decision or project and cause cost overruns or lost profits.
Next week we will discuss the next 2 steps in the process:
- Developing Alternatives
This week, I challenge you to review your last 3 decisions, whether simple or complicated, and write down your objective for the decision and the “musts” and “wants” for each. Did your decision reflect them? Send comment or e-mail and let me know how you did.
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Originally posted 2014-01-14 03:00:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter