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T&M Tom articles and comment on Technology and Management. Bbite provides coaching, mentoring and business opportunity research for SMEs and into technology markets.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Decision Making

Decision Making

Chocolate or Strawberry?
We apparently make many quick decisions unconsciously.
However, generally we choose actions and form opinions via mental processes which are influenced by values, biases, reason, emotions, and memories.

-          http://www.mindtools.com/media/Diagrams/LadderofInference.gifTake actions that seem "right" because they are based on what we believe.
-          Develop beliefs based on these conclusions.
-          Draw conclusions based on the interpreted facts and our assumptions.
-          Apply our existing assumptions, sometimes without considering them.
-          Interpret what they mean.
-          Experience these selectively based on our beliefs and prior experience.
-          Starting at the bottom of the ladder, we have reality and facts. From there, we:       

Simple decisions usually need a simple decision-making process.
Kinds of Decisions
Whether?           Yes/ No
Which?                 Involve a choice of one or more alternatives
Contingent? On hold until conditions are met (Time, energy, price, availability, opportunity, encouragement--)
Difficult decisions typically involve issues like these:
Uncertainty - Many facts may not be known.
Complexity - You have to consider many interrelated factors
High-risk consequences - The impact of the decision may be significant.
Alternatives - Each has its own set of uncertainties and consequences.
Interpersonal issues - It can be difficult to predict how other people will react.
A normal decision-making process for complex or big decisions generally involves:
    Defining the problem.
    Collecting necessary information.
    Developing options.
    Devising a plan.
    Executing and Following-up.

Realise when and why you need to make a decision. Or appreciate what someone else is having to decide and how?
Declare the decision: decide what the decision is, how you’ll work it, and who should be involved.
Choose a method
Work the decision: generate a complete set of alternatives, gather the information you need to understand the possibilities and probabilities, and ultimately make a choice that best fits your values.
Commit resources and act. Keep to timescales.
Specific Leadership Styles
Style: Autocratic – you make the decision and inform others of it.
Process: Autocratic 1(A1) – you use the information you already have and make the decision. Autocratic 2 (A2) – you ask team members for specific information and once you have it, you make the decision. Here you don't necessarily tell them what the information is needed for.
Style: Consultative – you gather information from the team and others and then make the decision.
Process: Consultative 1 (C1) – you inform team members of what you doing and may individually ask opinions, however, the group is not brought together for discussion. You make the decision.
Consultative 2 (C2) – you are responsible for making the decision, however, you get together as a group to discuss the situation, hear other perspectives, and solicit suggestions.
Style: Collaborative – you and your team work together to reach a consensus.
Process: Group (G2) – The team makes a decision together. Your role is mostly facilitative and you help the team come to a final decision that everyone agrees on.

Thinking Hats
      Each 'Thinking Hat' is a different style of thinking.
      White Hat: With this thinking hat you focus on the data available. Look at the information you have, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and either try to fill them or take account of them.
      This is where you analyse past trends, and try to extrapolate from historical data.
      Red Hat: 'Wearing' the red hat, you look at problems using intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Also try to think how other people will react emotionally. Try to understand the responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.
      Black Hat: Using black hat thinking, look at all the bad points of the decision. Look at it cautiously and defensively. Try to see why it might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan. It allows you to eliminate them, alter them, or prepare contingency plans to counter them. Black Hat thinking helps to make your plans 'tougher' and more resilient. It can also help you to spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action. Black Hat thinking is one of the real benefits of this technique, as many successful people get so used to thinking positively that often they cannot see problems in advance. This leaves them under-prepared for difficulties.
      Yellow Hat: The yellow hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.
      Green Hat: The Green Hat stands for creativity. This is where you can develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. A whole range of creativity tools can help you here.
      Blue Hat: The Blue Hat stands for process control. This is the hat worn by people chairing meetings. When running into difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking, etc.
      A variant of this technique is to look at problems from the point of view of different professionals (e.g. doctors, architects, sales directors, etc.) or different customers.