Decision Making Process

How to Make a Decision

Managers at all levels and in all areas of organizations make decisions. That is, they make choices. Making decisions isn’t something that just managers do; all organizational members make decisions that affect their jobs and the organization they work for. Although decision making is typically described as choosing among alternatives, that view is too simplistic. Why?  

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Because decision making is a process, not just a simple act of choosing among alternatives.

Process:

Step 1: Identifying a Problem

Your team is dysfunctional, your customers are leaving, or your plans are no longer relevant. Every decision starts with a problem, a discrepancy between an existing and desired condition. Problem identifying is first step of decision making. Every manager identified a problem for any issues. What one manager considers a problem might not be considered a problem by another manager. In addition, a manager who resolves the wrong problem perfectly is likely to perform just as poorly as the manager who doesn’t even recognize a problem and does nothing. As you can see, effectively identifying problems is important, but not easy.

Step 2: Identifying Decision Criteria

Once a manager has identified a problem, he or she must identify the decision criteria that are important or relevant to resolving the problem. Every decision maker has criteria guiding his or her decisions even if they’re not explicitly stated.

Step 3: Allocating Weights to the criteria

If the relevant criteria aren’t equally important, the decision maker must weight the items in order to give them the correct priority in the decision. How? A simple way is to give the most important criterion a weight of 10 and then assign weights to the rest using that standard. Of course, you could use any number as the highest weight. The weighted criteria for example are shown below-

Criteria nameWeight
Memory10
Warranty8
Battery life4
Item nameMemoryWarrantyBattery life
HP Pro Book1083
Lenovo pad895
Dell Inspiron1078

Step 4: Developing Alternatives

The fourth step in the decision making process requires the decision maker to list viable alternatives that could resolve the problem. In this step, a decision maker needs to be creative. And the alternatives are only listed, not evaluated just yet. Our example, identifies three laptops as possible choice.

Step 5: Analyzing Alternatives

Once alternatives have been identified, a decision maker must evaluate each one. How? By using criteria established in step 2. Sometimes a decision maker might be able to skip this step.  

Item nameMemoryWarrantyBattery lifeTotal
HP Pro Book108321
Lenovo pad89522
Dell Inspiron107825

Step 6: Selecting an Alternative

The sixth step in the decision making process is choosing the best alternative or the one that generated the highest total in step 5. Our example, we would choose the Dell Inspiron because it scored higher than all other alternatives.

Step 7: Implementing the Alternative

In step 7, you put the decision into action by conveying it to those affected and getting their commitment to it. We know that if the people who must implement a decision participate in the process, they’re more likely to support it than if you just tell them what to do. Another thing managers may need to do during implementation is reassess the environment for any changes, especially it’s a long term decision. Are the criteria, alternatives, and choice still the best ones, or has the environment changed in such a way that we need to reevaluate.

Step 8: Evaluating Decision Effectiveness

The last step in the decision making process involves evaluating the outcome or result of the decision to see whether the problem was resolved. If the evaluation shows that the problem still exists, then the manager needs to assess what went wrong. Was the problem incorrectly defined? Were errors made when evaluating alternatives? Was the right alternative selected but poorly implemented? The answer might lead you to redo an earlier step or might in such a way that we need to reevaluate?

Decisions Managers May Make:

Planning:

What are the organizations long term objectives?

What strategies will best achieve those objectives?

What should the organization’s short term objectives be?

How difficult should individual goals be?

Organizing:

How many employees should I have report directly to me?

How much centralization should there be in the organization?

How should jobs be designed?

When should the organization implement a different structure?

Leading:

How do I handle employees who appear to be unmotivated?

What is the most effective leadership style in a given situation?

How will a specific change affect worker productivity?

When is the right time to stimulate conflict?

Controlling:

What activities in the organization need to be controlled?

How should those activities be controlled?

When is a performance deviation significant?

What type of management information system should the organization have?

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