Practical Application: Choosing a Decision Making Model for the Workplace

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

When facing an important decision, there are a number of systematic ways that a business leader can analyze options and make decisions. Choosing the right model is the foundation for a good decision.

Decisions, Decisions

Take a look at a few of these scenarios having to do with decision-making. They're all a bit odd, but can you explain why they seem so awkward or unusual?

  • The chief executive of a Fortune 500 company calls the senior leadership together to take vote on the company's strategic direction.
  • The patriarch of a family-owned grocery store concerned about being forced out by big box stores gathers the whole family together and gives each person $50,000 to spend on any of their individual ideas to make the threat less imminent.
  • Complaining that there is ''too much red tape to get anything done'', the chairperson of a non-profit humanitarian organization dismisses the Board of Directors and assumes unilateral control.
  • As a wildfire races toward a neighborhood at lightning speed, the incident commander calls the team together and says, ''Time is short, and I think we should tell people to stop evacuating. Let's see what happens if we tell them to protect their homes using garden hoses and buckets. We'll decide what to do next afterward when we see how that idea plays out.''

Ridiculous, right? Of course - but can you explain why?

One Size Decision-Making Doesn't Fit All

The reason that all four of these scenarios seems so absurd is that they are exaggerated examples of using the wrong decision-making model to determine a strategy. Consider these three questions:

  1. What decision-making model is being used in the scenario?
  2. Why is that model inappropriate or ineffective in that situation to which it was applied?
  3. How do you know that the chosen model was poor and what model would be better?

Let's examine one of the scenarios as an example, then you can perform the analysis on the remaining three scenarios.

Example Analysis of Decision-Making Models

In the first scenario, the leader of a large company is soliciting input from others as he or she plots the strategic course for the organization. But it's important to note that soliciting input and the decision-making model employed here are not the same thing.

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