Decision Making: Is It An Art Or Science?

decisionsDecision making is not only required in professional life, but also in our daily lives. We often encounter situations when we have to arrive at a decision. It could be as simple as deciding what to have for dinner, or a complex one like deciding the best price for a new product.

What is decision making?

Simply speaking, decision making is a cognitive process involved in choosing the best course of action out of the various available options. For example, there are 10 different suppliers who have filed a tender for the project, and you have to choose the best supplier from the list. You can make a decision based on your cognitive ability and on the basis of available information.

Decision making models

There are various decision making models that have been guiding managers and professionals for many years. These Problem solving techniques or decision making models offer guidelines on how to reach the most appropriate decision.

  • Recognition Primed Decision Making: This model of decision making depends on learning from previous decisions, to make decisions for the current situation. This model is effective for making routine life decisions and helps when making quick decisions. This can be applied only by those individuals who are adequately experienced.
  • Rule Based Decision Making: When you refer to the rule book or a manual to decide on the best course of action, you are actually doing rule based decision making.
  • Decision Through Comparison Of Alternatives: This involves identifying various choices or courses of action that may be taken to fulfil the goal. Then these alternatives are evaluated by merit, and the best suitable option is chosen.
  • Creative Decision Making: This involves taking a novel approach to find a solution to the problem or to arrive at the best course of action. This is usually required in cases of emergence or in unfamiliar situations.
  • Ethical Decision Making: When you keep in mind the morals, and ethical code of conduct while making a decision, it is known as ethical decision making.

decision-makingThe Decision Making Process

There are several scientists, psychologists and management gurus who have created outlines of decision making processes. One of the best ways to describe a decision making process was outlined by Dr. Pam Brown. According to him, decision making involves the following steps:

  1. Clearly outline the goal
  2. Collect information that may help in arriving at the conclusion
  3. Use brainstorming or other techniques to find out alternatives
  4. Once you have alternatives, then look for pros and cons of each option
  5. Choose the best alternative
  6. Implement the decision
  7. Evaluate the effectiveness of the decision, and take it as learning
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