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Decision making as in science, judgement is an art! Do you agree?

- By Dwaipayan, 21 May 2021 | 6 MIN READ


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Decisions are made through either an intuitional or reasoned process, or a combination of the two.

Although it is believed that intuition is a magical ‘sense’ - a combination of past experience and your personal values. It is worth taking your intuition into account because it reflects your learning about life.

It is also sometime about your gut feeling, particularly if you have a very strong feeling about a particular course of action, to see if you can work out why, and whether the feeling is justified.

What is reasoning then?

Reasoning has its roots in the here-and-now, and in facts. It can, however, ignore emotional aspects to the decision, and in particular, issues from the past that may affect the way that the decision is implemented.

Intuition is an entirely acceptable means of deciding, although it is generally more appropriate when the decision is of a simple nature or needs to be made quickly.

However, more complicated choices tend to require a more formal, structured approach, usually involving both intuition and reasoning. It is important to be wary of impulsive reactions to a situation.

When applying both Reason and Intuition

One way to do this is to apply the two aspects in turn. It’s useful to start with reason and gather facts and figures. Once you have an obvious ‘decision’, it’s the turn of intuition. How do you feel about the ‘answer’? Does it feel right?

If not, have another look, and see if you can work out why not. If you’re not emotionally committed to the decision you’ve made, you won’t implement it well or effectively.

Ways to effective Decision-Making

Decisions need to be capable of being implemented, whether on a personal or organisational level. You do, therefore, need to be committed to the decision personally, and be able to persuade others of its merits. An effective decision-making process, therefore, needs to ensure that you can do so.

Now, what can prevent effective Decision-Making?

There are several challenges that can thwart you from taking effective decisions

1. Limited Information

If you do not have enough information, it can feel like you are making a decision without any basis.

Take some time to gather the necessary data to inform your decision, even if the timescale is very tight. If necessary, prioritize your information-gathering by identifying which information will be most important to you.

2. Excess Information

The opposite problem, but one that is seen surprisingly often: having so much conflicting information that it is impossible to see ‘the wood for the trees.

This is sometimes called analysis paralysis and is also used as a tactic to delay organizational decision-making, with those involved demanding ever more information before they can decide.

This problem can often be resolved by getting everyone together to decide what information is really important and why, and by setting a clear timescale for decision-making, including an information-gathering stage.

3. Too many cooks spoil the broth

When everyone has their own views, and their own values. And while it’s important to know what these views are, and why and how they are important, it may be essential for one person to take responsibility for making a decision. Sometimes, any decision is better than none.

4. Vested interests

Decision-making processes often founder under the weight of vested interests. These vested interests are often not overtly expressed but may be a crucial blockage. Because they are not overtly expressed, it is hard to identify them clearly, and therefore address them, but it can sometimes be possible to do so by exploring them with someone outside the process, but in a similar position.

It can also help to explore the rational/intuitive aspects with all stakeholders, usually with an external facilitator to support the process.

5. Emotional Attachments

When people are often overly attached to the status quo. Decisions tend to involve the prospect of change, which many people find difficult.

For more about overcoming this, see our pages on Change Management, but also remember that ‘deciding not to decide is also a decision.

Many different techniques of decision-making have been developed, ranging from simple rules of thumb to extremely complex procedures.  The method used depends on the nature of the decision to be made and how complex it is. 

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