The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. Amelia Earhart
Decision making can be defined in simple terms, as a process of selecting / identifying the best course of action, out of all the options available, to complete a given task. Decision making is one of the most common activities we indulge in, since our childhood, but still find it difficult to accomplish. Decision making is one process which you cannot avoid, try as much as you may. A decision, at most can be delayed but cannot be avoided, even not taking a decision is also a conscious decision someone has taken.
Numerous books / articles have been written on decision making process / techniques, a very simple process, which we indulge in, as a routine in our daily life but, may be, do not realise. One doesn’t have to read all those book or articles to understand decision making. Whether you are educated or illiterate the process of decision making remains same. There are set five, six steps which everyone follows to arrive at the decision, whether you are a Managing Director of a big business house or a housewife buying vegetables in the market .
To start the decision-making process, one has to be clear about the aim or the end state which is required to be achieved. If the aim is not clear your plans to achieve it are bound to go awry. The first step in decision making process is to set a clear, logical aim. There can’t be any ifs and buts in the laid down aim. It should be clearly spelt out and well understood by all concerned.
The next step is to ascertain if any restrictions have been imposed. Directions to finish a task by a fixed date is an example of a restriction imposed and has to be analysed in details before coming to a final decision as it may lead to cost, having a direct bearing on the requirement of finances. Likewise, a housewife buying vegetables, may not be able to buy a particular vegetable, though cheapest , because of somebody in the family being allergic to it . Finances alone cannot dictate a decision.
Having selected clear aim and analysed the terms / restrictions imposed, the next logical step is to ascertain the resources required to complete the task in the given time frame. Resources will include the work force , machines , finances , the fuel , vehicles etc. A detailed analysis of resources required, based on market survey, has to be carried out to ensure the availability of best quality at the cheapest cost. Vegetable may be cheapest in a particular market but the travel cost being prohibitive may force the housewife to procure it from a nearer market to save the overall cost and maintain quality and quantity.
Another factor which has to be critically analysed before selecting the best course of action is the time. Time is always constant , number of hours in a day cannot be increased or reduced. Availability of time will dictate the requirement of resources for completion of the task.
Having seen the time and the resource availability the next step is to analyse the optimal utilisation of the available resources for completion of the given task. This analysis will throw up various options from which the best available course of action, which ensures quality and quantity in the given time frame, has to be selected. After having carried out a detailed analysis of the requirement of resources for completion of the task, you may ask for additional resources or extra time if you strongly feel the requirement.
Contingencies, which may arise / affect the completion of tasks, have to be catered for at each stage. Enough time and resource cushion have to be maintained to cater for unforeseen eventualities which may affect the completion of task.
This is what process of decision making is all about. The following factors should be kept in mind for effective decision making :-
(a) Do not delay taking a decision , too much ,for want of more and more information. Timely decision making is a must to ensure completion of task in time. At the same time a decision should not be taken in too much of a hurry , unless there is a question of life and death.
(b) Do not delay taking a decision for fear of failure. If you have done the analysis well, chances of failure are remote. Certain shortcomings my emerge, which can be corrected on occurrence or later.
(c) Do not ever indulge in taking decisions based on votes. Decision has to be based on analysis of the available resources, time, contingencies and restrictions.
(d) Arriving at a decision involves the effort of the team. However, the responsibility of taking the final decision is of the team leader. The leader should be ready to take the responsibility for any failure .
(e) Always maintain a record of the decisions taken . Refer to decisions taken in projects /task accomplishments of similar nature , in the past. Gain from the goodness of the previous plan and avoid the shortcomings.
(f) Critical analysis of the plans made be carried out on completion of the task to understand the strengths and shortcomings of the plan and improve upon it in future.
“ Boys learn from your mother the art of decision making and management . Remember, how efficiently she always met all your requirements , without you ever realising it. Always on time, without ever compromising on quality or quantity”