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Decision Making Process: Improving Our Ability To Make Decisions

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Decision-Making Process:

Improving Our Ability to Make Decision

Facing a situation, you have to decide. For example, the fire surrounds you: What do you do? Jump through the windows and risk to kill yourself or to wait the firemen and risk to be burned to death if they come to late? Every decision that we make or don't make shapes our future. Everyone tries to make good decisions. However, it is easy to overlook an important factor, miss a desirable option, or base the decision on unreliable information. In addition, fear of making a wrong choice can cause someone to postpone decisions, leading to miss opportunities. A businessperson must have the ability to make decisions under the pressure of time and circumstances. This ability needs a good knowledge of the decision making process.

From a practical point-of-view, of the most important human skills is decision-making. Both at a personal level and in context of organizations, decision-making skill strongly affects the quality of life and success. Decision-making is the process by which a person or group recognizes a choice, gathers information, analyzes the data, and determines the best option to choose. The decision-making process employs high levels of critical thinking skills and problem-solving techniques. Decisions are guided by several factors, primarily the significance of the issue, the impact the decision may have, and the person's or group's morals and cultural norms. For less significant decisions that have little impact, people might not invoke the higher thinking skills that theorists expect (Decision-Making 2005). Flipping a coin, hoping for a miraculous sign, following the crowd, or by passing the responsibility to someone else are all means of making decisions. For more important decisions with greater impact, people often employ more advanced thought processes like those demonstrated in decision-making models by social psychologists and behaviorists.

Most theories accept the idea that decision-making consists of a number of steps or stages such as improving creativity, critical thinking skills, and problem solving techniques. It is well recognized that routine cognitive processes such as memory, reasoning, and concept formation play a primary role in decision-making (Decision-Making 2005).

Leaders know in their gut that creativity and innovation are the life blood of their organization. New ideas can lead to programs that are superior to those that are already going on or planned in the organization and which would have been divested or never initiated had a better idea or program come along. So, the mission of every leader should be to search continually for ideas and programs that are superior to the ones the organization is currently committed to. Creativity can be divided into two phases of thinking: divergent thinking and convergent thinking (Welch 2001).

The goal of divergent thinking is to generate many different ideas about a topic in a short period of time. It involves breaking a topic down into its various component parts in order to gain insight about the various aspects of the topic. Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that the ideas are generated in a random, unorganized fashion. Whereas divergent thinking involved tearing a topic apart to explore its various component parts, convergent thinking involves combining or joining different ideas together based on elements these ideas have in common. Convergent thinking means putting the different pieces of a topic back together in some organized structured and understandable fashion. Whenever new solutions are needed, then creativity becomes a part of the decision making process (Welch 2001).

Critical thinking skills are essential for making sense of large amounts of information. Loosely defined, critical thinking is the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome. It is used to describe thinking that is purposeful, reasoned and goal directed. The kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decisions when the thinker is using skills that are thoughtful and effective for the particular context and type of thinking task. Critical thinking also involves evaluating the thinking process. The reasoning that went into the conclusion we've arrived at the kinds of factors considered in making a decision. Critical thinking is sometimes called directed thinking because it focused on a desired outcome (Critical Thinking Skills 2005). Critical thinking takes a number of different forms, a few of which are described below.

Validating facts of critical thinking involves judging the validity of information presented as fact. It is important to treat all untested data with suspicion, no matter how reasonable it may seen. Secondly, making generalization. Generalizations are drawn based on a limited set of observation. Generalizations allow people to make predictions. Once this rule is known, future outcomes can be forecast with a high degree of confidence. It is important that students base their generalizations on an adequate amount of information. A generalization that is formed too quickly may be wrong or incomplete or may lead down a dead-end path. The third form of critical thinking is making decisions. Making informed decisions requires knowledge, experience, and good judgment (Critical Thinking Skills 2005).

Problem solving is the decision making process from beginning to end, from recognizing the problem to implementing and follow up. There are a number of tools and techniques that can be learned to enhance your effectiveness as a decision maker. There are three problem solving techniques that have broad applications and as a result, they are useful in wide range of circumstances. They are brainstorming, cause-effect analysis and force-field analysis (Problem Solving 2005).

Brainstorming is an excellent technique to begin the problem-solving process. Brainstorming can be used to help identify problems, solutions or the consequences of the alternative solutions. Basically, it is an idea generating technique that is employed by a group of individuals who throw out their ideas as they think of them so that each has the opportunity to build on the ideas of the others. It is an especially useful technique for creating a breakthrough whenever you are presented with a new, unusual or different situation that is not amenable to a traditional solution. The key to successful brainstorming is to do nothing that will stifle the creativity of the group. Criticism of ideas will kill them quickly. Individually, participants quickly write possible solutions, share these alternatives as a group in a non-judgmental



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