According to multiple sources on the Internet, the average amount of remotely conscious decisions an adult makes each day equals about 35,000. In contrast, young children only make about 3,000 decisions each day. We know this is true. As the commercial said, “You can’t put anything on the Internet that isn’t true.”
Obviously most of these decisions are not earth shattering: Coffee instead of soda, burger instead of taco, etc. Some decisions require additional analysis and effort. I want to discuss these.
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 (taking no action is an action). 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 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, after the decision, 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 all future consequences.
Any discussion of decision-making requires the discussion of personalities since a person’s personality greatly influences their particular decision-making process. This includes 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. Here are the general decision-making issues of the four major personality types.
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 type to 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. 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.
Amiables are 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 this.
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.
So what does all this mean? Our personality type influences our own decision-making process. Add another person or two to the mix and the process becomes more complex. In my opinion, the most effective way to get to a decision is to begin with well-defined objectives that are specific and measurable. Ensure that the agenda concentrates on moving all discussion toward those objectives. Give everyone involved a specific time limit to make their point. Then, make the decision.
A very important point regarding group decision-making is that, once the decision is made, all those involved agree to “murder the unchosen alternatives.” This does not mean to forget that there were other alternatives. It means to commit your time, talent and tools to supporting the chosen option.
Realize that it is human nature to look for evidence against the decision if you did not agree with it and resolve to look for ways to support it. The alternative is to sabotage the decision, cause chaos, and go find another job.
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