Decision-making

Decision-making is one of the casualties of today's knowledge industry. Since there are many players in the decision-making process, the decisions get put off for another discussion. In general, many people seem to shy away from making a decision, since decisions bring a responsibility with them and perhaps an onus to follow through. Do you tend to avoid decision-making by either waiting it out till somebody else makes it or getting into an analysis paralysis?

Decision-making will typically involve:

Information analysis of various kinds

Looking at alternatives

Involvement of multiple parties

Risk analysis

Prioritization

Impact on people and processes

Impact on a team or a company's external image

Consideration for ethics and values

And of course, multiple outcomes or consequences to be considered

Most of all, decision-making requires someone to be ready to take on the responsibility of the decisions and not be fearful of getting blamed. Some of these abilities are a result of exposure to decision-making as we grow up.

Especially in India, parents tend to bubble wrap the child from the vagaries of the real world. There are many kids who go to college and still have their wardrobe being decided by their mothers. Many have their parents accompany them when they go to a new town, so they can be helped. Thankfully, a large number of people do get the independence to make their own decisions, at least enough of them.

A manager is expected to make decisions and stand by them. Not all decisions require a detailed process and are done as a matter of routine. But even routine decisions are required to be consistent. For example, a simple decision of approving casual leave for a team member requires you to be consistent about when and how often casual leaves should be taken. One team member should not be questioned more than the others unless there's a good reason. Decisions based on core values will tend to be consistent.

There are decisions that have a long-term or high impact and require a detailed analysis. For example, policy decisions and financial decisions usually have long-term impact. Some decisions may not have a long-term impact but may impact a large number of people across multiple teams. For example, a simple decision to have everybody verify and confirm some personal data seems to be a simple one and perhaps takes only about 5 minutes of an individual's time, but when calculated across a 50,000 people organization, strain on network resources, follow-up, and reporting, the cost of such a decision is not trivial.

A manager's decision-making abilities will be tested everyday and are instrumental in the successes of the team and the manager.

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