The Roman Review | November 2011
Effective decision-making

Today, I will be discussing effective decision-making. First let’s define a decision as: a choice made (a conscious act) between alternative courses of action (requiring action) in a situation of uncertainty (in spite of uncertainty). This means that a decision is a choice and that some action must be taken as a result of the decision. A decision is made in an environment where the result of the decision is uncertain. You just can never be absolutely sure of the outcome. You will only truly know if it was the right decision only after it is made and implemented. A decision is a commitment of resources today for expected results tomorrow.

This is a good time to point out that if you made the right decision using the available information, the arrival of new information does not make the decision bad. New information may make the outcome or result unfavorable. It does not make the decision bad. If you used a good decision-making process while making the decision, you made the correct decision for the circumstances. Few decisions are made with full knowledge of the consequences.

A discussion of decision-making requires the discussion of personalities since a person’s personality greatly influences decision–making processes: the information gathering, the information evaluation, how much information is needed, how quickly the decision is made, loyalty to the decision, readiness to accept/admit fault and many other things.

Extroverts are intuitive, decisive, quick to conclusions, not fact oriented. They are quick, emotional and make direct gut-decisions. Information gathering and analysis is boring to them. They are likely to change the decision quickly in the face of new information without much analysis.

Analyticals are the opposite of the extrovert. They are logical and indecisive, needing much more information since they are very fact oriented. They hesitate to make decisions, fearing that they do not have all the facts. New information after the decision is made requires much analysis. It serves to make the point that the decision was made without proper analysis in the first place.

Pragmatics are very logical and decisive. They do not look to be creative and are not people oriented. Once the decision is made, it’s made and they tend to stick with it even in the face of new information. Don’t ask a pragmatic how the people will be affected, since this did not receive much consideration.

The amiable is the opposite of the pragmatic. They are very considerate of others, hesitant to make the tough decisions and very people oriented. The amiable’s concern is how the decision will affect the people, and they will agonize over it.

So you see, that different personalities require different information, analyze that information differently and look for different outcomes for different reasons.

As a decision-maker, you should try to identify where you are relative to the above descriptions.

Are you slowed by concerns for how your decision will affect others? Are you quick to decisions because you do not want to perform the boring information analysis? Do you prefer to make quick, unemotional, fact-based decisions? Do you feel the need to gather all the possible information and to have contingency plans in place?

You can imagine, for example, an amiable and a pragmatic making a decision together. The amiable has a great deal of concern for others and wants to spend time analyzing that. The pragmatic wants to get to the decision quickly and unemotionally based on available facts. The amiable will think the pragmatic is insensitive, while the pragmatic will think the amiable is wasting time on mushy stuff.

I will discuss a decision-making process next time. Until then, assess how your decision-making style affects your research, analysis and results.

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