On Decision Making

Organizations and their leaders are judged by the decisions they make.  Given its importance, I am always surprised at the lack of decision making training in corporate America.

The decision making process is fundamentally simple.  First, get the facts opposed to the usual anecdotal nonsense.  Second, determine who will be affected.  Third, identify and consider the moral issues involved.  Fourth, identify and evaluate the alternatives and, finally, select the best, or least worst.  Sounds simple enough, so why are so many lousy decisions made every day?

At the heart of most flawed decisions is haste to solve some identified problem without considering the ramifications, resulting in violating the irrefutable law of nature that governs this situation – the law of unintended consequences.

For example, a foreign fish is introduced into the environment to eat some troublesome bug and before we know it, the new fish has eaten everything in the pond.   Australia is overrun with non native rabbits because somebody in the 19th century thought it would be fun to hunt them.

Decision making is a serious business.  It requires judgment, but also the intellectual honesty and discipline to follow a process and consider all aspects of the problem.  It is important to remember the penalty for violating the law of unintended consequences is usually hurting those most in need of your help.

Consider this when next confronted with an enormous problem that must quickly be ‘solved.’

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