Motivational Speakers -Academic Paper – Decision Making

Motivational Speakers

Academic Paper – Decision Making

Table of Contents

Introduction. 2

The decision Making Process. 3

Framing Decisions and viewing them from a positive Perspective. 3

Positive Language as a Decision making Tool 4

Decision Making, which will deliver Workable solutions. 4

Decision Making – Psychological Perspective. 5

Decision Making as a Tool for Creating Better Outcomes or Different, more desirable results. 7

Basic linear Decision Making Model 7

Making More Complex Decisions. 8

An Outcome Focused Approach. 8

Process Focused Approach. 8

Making Decisions is a dynamic process. 8

Pre-Decision Stage. 9

Partial decisions. 10

Final Decision Stage. 10

Post-Decision Stage. 11

Turn Problem Solving into Decision Making and Workable Solutions. 13

Effectively analysing and Utilising Data to Make Decisions. 14

Understanding How Your Brain Manages Data. 14

Conclusion. 20

References. 20

Introduction

Firstly I want to define my reason for choosing to produce this paper around the decision making process, rather than using what I refer to as negative language, namely the phrase “Problem Solving” to describe something that requires us to evaluate an event or events, which have occurred. The event itself is not the issue; it is merely the observer, who finds that the event is not aligned with the outcome they expected.

My hypothesis is that, when making any decision, our objective is not to “solve a problem”, it is rather to try to get a different or more positive outcome. The reason we want a different or better outcome is not because of the event itself, but rather because we have interpreted and articulated the event, from our unique perspective and have found that the event does not match our unique needs, circumstances or expectations at that moment in time. The evaluation of any circumstances is made from the observers perceptive and is interpreted according to their unique needs.

Working with the concept of problem solving, introduces a number of challenges for me. I believe that what we think about, we most certainly, through our thoughts and actions, eventually bring about. So the very act of viewing something as a problem causes the observer to engage in negative thought processes. These negative thought processes sees them approaching any event which has occurred from a negative standpoint. Where they view the event, as something they need to overcome, rather than simply an event, which has occurred, which is not aligned with the outcome they want to achieve.

The decision Making Process

When we first tackle the decision making process, we first utilise superficial information to start the reasoning process. We use word associations and syntactic structures to initiate the process of meaningful reasoning. It is for this reason that I introduce positive word associations, into the decision making process as early as possible. When someone is exposed to negative language, such as the “necessity to Problem Solve”, rather than “make new positive decisions, which will help them to achieve better results”. Their first response to the negative language, as a result of the negative impact made by the initial superficial information received, is to feel overwhelmed and their reasoning ability is compromised.

Since I have introduced this more positive approach to my clients, I have observed a remarkable improvement, in not only the outcome they manage to achieve in the end, but have seen a reduction in the perceived stress levels they feel. After my clients made this shift, where they no longer view any changes that they need to make or events, which are not aligned with the outcome they want to achieve, as problems.  They remove the negative connotation associated with overcoming problems and instead allow themselves to operate from a far more positive position. This subtle shift, allows them to approach any event, which they want to change from a far more positive perspective and they see any changes, which they need to make, as merely a set of different choices or a few new decisions away. This subtle shift, will allows them to operate from a more positive position.

They feel far less stressed as they no longer need to overcome anything. All they need to do is make a few calculated and focused, different decisions or choices and the outcome or result will change.

Framing Decisions and viewing them from a positive Perspective

My experience has shown that once you make this shift away from viewing any undesirable result, as a problem you need to overcome. Instead you see it as an event which is not aligned with the outcome you want to achieve, you immediately remove the feeling of overwhelm and move into a proactive position, where you feel empowered. It is obviously far easier to make meaningful, appropriate decisions, when you are operating from a positive modality, where you feel underwhelmed. Rather than from a pressured position of overwhelm. It is obviously better to approach the decision making process from a positive place, rather than from a place where you have conjured up negative images, as you visualise yourself, in a place where you need to tackle a problem, which needs to be overcome..

Change the way you look at any events, which occur and the events will change from being undesirable into something, which offers you a greater possibility of creating a desirable outcome Carl Jung eloquently set forth that the greatest problems in life cannot always be overcome, they can be outgrown. Empower yourself to utilise positive decision making as a means to solve challenges rather than looking for ways to “SOLVE PROBLEMS”. Making different, more positive decisions will prompt you to look at things in a more healthy and objective fashion.

The ability to explore our world, understand how the events and changes, which occur, affect us and then to analyse all relevant data and come up with a workable solution, is one of the most important cognitive activities any business professional engages in on a daily basis. In fact the sole purpose of many people in many organisations is purely to solve challenges, make different better decisions and come up with workable solutions.

Positive Language as a Decision making Tool

I have observed a remarkable improvement in all my clients’ dispositions, attitude and levels of inspiration, when I have introduce them to a framework, which focuses on utilising positive language, to describe any challenges they may be experiencing. I have found it far more beneficial to focus on positive terms like “Decision Making, which will deliver Workable solutions” rather than “Problem Solving

Decision Making, which will deliver Workable solutions

I will be exploring the decision making process from a number of different perspectives.

  • I will examine decision making from a psychological perspective, where I will examine the individual decision in the context of the needs of the individual, their preferences and the values they seek.
  • I will also provide a cognitive perspective, in which we will explore practical ways of providing individuals with a continuous process, which will be integrated into a systematic approach, which will allow the person making decisions to interact with and effectively utilise, the crucial data necessary to make decisions.
  • My goal is to also explain the decision making process from a normative perspective, where we will explore the decision making process from a logical or process driven perspective and provide a method of systematically making meaningful decisions. This systematic approach can be viewed as a decision making loop, in which the decision making activity is only terminated, when a satisfactory solution is uncovered and a workable solution is defined which can be put into practice. The decision making process is a looping on-going process in which relevant or meaningful data is examined and explored, using rational and irrational thought and then utilising this as a basis for reflection, a  workable solution is found based on tacit assumptions, made by utilising the data.

The focus of this paper is not on the unconscious decision making process, we engage in on a daily basis, but rather on the logical decision making process required to create the circumstances necessary to succeed in the complex business environment. My objective is to provide a system, in which knowledge, experience and only the required data is utilised to make informed decisions.

Decision Making – Psychological Perspective

We are a very complex species, with an incredible ability to reason, envision and compare. When we need to make any decisions, we can either use deductive inference, where the evidence guarantees the absolute truth of the conclusion reached about the required decision. Or like in most cases where we need to make decisions, in a business environment, the reasoning we utilise, depends on conditions, where uncertainty plays a major role in the decision making process. In this case the reasoning takes on the form of inductive inference, where the evidence or data only provides a very limited amount of support for the decision.

The decision making process, where we are attempting to achieve a different or improved outcome, is seldom, if ever possible utilising deductive inference. The very nature of the decision making process, within any business environment, requires the use of inductive inference, where the inferential steps, required to reach a meaningful decision are never based in certainty. When making any new decisions, which will result in better outcomes, the new more desirable outcome is best achieved by modelling the situation, using an appropriate method to assess the available data and then after assessing the possible consequences of each course of action, a meaningful decision can be made.

Predicting the best outcome or deciding on the best course of action is dependent on causal reasoning. Each possible outcome or effect is measured against the various options available, (causes), utilising the available data to guide the choice and the final decision made. It is also possible to make predictions about the possible outcome, by comparing predictions and explanations using analogical reasoning. This is a process whereby the relationship between one concept, is compared to another one, which is mapped from another domain.

For example: Helping students to conceptualise the complicated process of particle motion, can best be taught, by utilising an analogy or comparison to the solar system. This process of understanding relies on utilising a familiar concept to help them understand and interpret more complex processes.

There are two major trains of thought around the reasoning process. One school of thought proposes that our mind consists of specialised modules, which are relatively localised and that any reasoning is restricted to certain encapsulated parts of the brain. I do not support this view and instead am a proponent of the Dual-process system, in which reasoning is the function of both an associative system and a rule based system. I support this system, because it utilises association, similarity and memory to produce decisions, in the associative system, which is combined with the rule based system, in which reasoning is done deliberately and consciously.

The associative system functions really well, when snap immediate decisions are required. The rule based system is valuable, when more time is available and there is more data or external information, which can be used in the decision making process. The rule based system for making decisions requires the use of the prefrontal cortex or the newest part of the human brain to function effectively.

Simple Flow Diagram to Understanding The Decision Making Process

Decision Making as a Tool for Creating Better Outcomes or Different, more desirable results

Basic linear Decision Making Model

Decision making as a tool for creating the desirable outcomes you want, is essentially a process of analysing a finite set of alternatives, in terms of some carefully chosen evaluative criterion. The evaluative criterion utilised may either be analysed in terms of possible benefits or cost. The next step in this looping process is to evaluate all the alternatives in a subjective and reflective fashion, utilising the carefully chosen supportive data as a guide and then based on the outcome of the analysis, the most desirable alternative is selected.

This simple model is effective to assess simple challenges and make new set of decisions, which will result in better or more positive outcomes. This model requires the selection of the best alternative based on single or linear input criterion. This model relies heavily on extensive experience on the part of the decision maker.

This model will not be very effective if the goal is to make a decision about a more complex issue, such as determining the relative total priority for a number of different alternatives. An example of this type of complex decision making process may require the decision maker to compare a number of different projects competing for a limited funding resource. In this case all the criterion needs to be considered simultaneously. These types of decision making processes are best solved using a more complex model.

Making More Complex Decisions

When embarking on a more complex decision making process it is no longer simply a process of selecting the most desirable alternative, it becomes a dynamic process, which requires the interpretation of many interrelated stages. The model I have found most suitable and which delivers the most consistent results, is one that utilises three stages, namely, pre-decision, decision and post decision to guide the decision making process.

I have decided to ignore decision trees as a possible alternative for inclusion in this paper, as I feel that they are limited, due to their logical and structural orientation and are best suited for dealing with simple problems. They are most certainly not adequate for dealing with more complex decisions.

When making more complex decisions there are essentially two basic approaches to modelling human decision making.

An Outcome Focused Approach

This approach assumes that, if the decision maker is able to correctly predict the desired outcome from the available data, then the decision maker understands the decision making process. The focus of this approach is thus centred on the premise that the decision maker is able to correctly predict the outcome of any decision which they make. The decision outcome and its correct prediction are the focus of this approach. When utilising this approach the decision maker will be asking questions, which would include what and when, rather than how.

Process Focused Approach

This approach assumes that if the decision maker understands the decision making process, they are then equipped to accurately predict the outcome. This is an experiential approach and assumes that as you learn to make good decisions, you equip yourself with new skills about how good decisions should be made.

Making Decisions is a dynamic process

When making decisions about more complex issues. The decision making process is a dynamic process of searching for relevant information, on a path filled with detours, enriched with feedback, which is found by gathering and discarding relevant information along the way. This process is fuelled by uncertainty and conflicting concepts, which when analysed and assessed, result in an effective or meaningful decision.

The challenge when making any decision and ensuring that the decision is valid and meaningful, is to effectively shift through only the right information, some of which is hazy and some of which is clear and then to make a good decision. Man is not a decision making machine, but rather a reluctant decision maker, who must make use of only the relevant information to effectively make decisions in the pre decision making and post decision making stages.

When attempting to make any complex decisions, although a decision making tree, decision making tables or a single mathematical function is of little value. It does not mean that the decision making process has no structure, quite the contrary is true. The decision making process is functional, dynamic and capable of forging its own path towards the right or most meaningful decision. The decision making process is one of learning, discovering, relevant data processing and one of defining the current event, which does not match the  needs of the decision maker and then finding the most suitable course of action to change the event or circumstances into a more favourable outcome.

The most effective way of making complex decisions is found by following a decision making process, rather than simply focusing on the act or the outcome required. It is for this reason that I favour the process approach, when making any complex decisions.

As stated earlier an effective decision making process consists of three basic stages, pre-decision, decision and post decision stages. It is important to note that all three stages are interdependent and can never operate independently of each other. The post decision phase of one decision coincides with the pre-decision stage of the next decision and each decision stage is in itself dependant on a number of partial decisions, each of which are characterised by their own pre and post decision stages.

Pre-Decision Stage

Whenever you need to make a decision in any business environment, there is obviously an event which has occurred or a set of circumstances that is not aligned with your needs or expectations. This conflict provides both the need to make the decision and the decision motivating tension to drive you to make the decision. As the circumstances are not aligned with expectations, the decision maker is motivated to search for different or better alternatives. The obvious goal of anyone, who makes any decision, is to ensure that they make the decision, which will result in the ideal outcome in the end.

During the first stages of the pre-decision process the first picture the decision maker may have had of the ideal outcome, may be displaced and the possible conflict amplified even further. This is normal and it is only once the picture of the ideal alternative has stabilised in the mind of the decision maker that they are able to start the process of deciding between what is available and what is actually achievable.

During this phase the search for alternatives continues and is purposely directed towards discovering the most suitable alternative. This is a process of evaluating and assessing all the possible alternatives, until one is identified that offers the most empirical evidence that it will deliver the desired outcome or that it is the best or closest alternative, which will deliver a more desirable outcome.

This is a process where the evaluation process continues in a systematic fashion, where the decision maker, sorts through all the possible alternatives, rather than attempting to discover any new ones.

The process of reinterpretation and reassessment of all the possible alternatives continues, until the decision maker has reached a point where one alternative becomes the most attractive. The better and more focused the available data is and the more information, which is transmitted by each attribute within the available alternatives, the more sound and meaningful the final decision will be. Once the decision maker has reached this juncture, additional decision makers could be brought in to help assess alternatives and help them to reach a consensus of opinion.

During this stage of the decision making process the gathering and evaluation information and data is highly objective and impartial. It is only once the decision maker realises that any further information or data, will not influence the preference or decision that the decision maker becomes subjective and biased. It is at this stage that only pieces of the information are admitted and evaluated. Our brain effectively filters the information and we only see a part of the picture. As the pre-decision process becomes stabilised, it is possible to make a partial decision.

Partial decisions

As we progress through any stage of the decision making process we continually make directional adjustments, where we discard alternatives, which in that moment appear inferior, as we return to previously rejected alternatives. This is a cyclical process and is repeated as all the alternatives are compared and re-compared to the ideal. This cycle continues until the attractiveness of discarded alternatives is diminished and the attractiveness of the retained alternatives is sufficiently amplified.

Final Decision Stage

As stated previously the pre-decision conflict or the need to achieve a better outcome, originated from the decision makers perceived infeasibility of the current circumstances. The event or current circumstance is undesirable. This then led to a desire for a different or better outcome, and is what motivated the decision maker to initiate the decision making process in the first place.

Once the decision maker has made the first partial decision the conflict reduces and they move closer to a workable solution. This is achieved because the ideal has moved closer to the available alternatives. It is from this point onwards that the decision making process becomes more complicated. As the number of available alternatives reduce, the decision making process becomes more and more difficult, because as the gap between the various alternatives narrows, it becomes harder and harder to choose, as the attractiveness of all the alternatives seems to converge.

When the decision maker actually makes the final decision, they have displaced the ideal alternative and selected the chosen alternative. They have then fully resolved the conflict or unsuitable circumstances, which existed in the pre-decision stage and the decision maker has narrowed the alternatives down to the minimum number of options. The level of commitment to the best alternative reaches a pinnacle, when the final decision is made.

Post-Decision Stage

Reducing the dissonance or limiting the cognitive conflict, by making a decision is not the end of the process. The entire decision making process is a gradual process of re-evaluation, re-assessment and finally making a choice or decision, where the decision maker finally chooses the best alternative. It is usual for the decision maker to experience post decision regret, in which the decision maker doubts the validity of their choice. During this stage they downplay the attractiveness of the chosen alternative and amplify all the inferior characteristics of the chosen alternative. Post decision regret is strongest at the end of the decision making process.

Understanding the post decision stage in the decision making process, is crucial if the decision maker is to implement any new decision they have made. The implementation phase is in effect only a continuation of the decision making process. Any good decision made and implemented by the decision maker is not independent of the decision making process.

It is in effect the final step in the post decision process. This is the time when the decision maker has achieved maximum dissonance or the conflicting cognitions are aligned and the decision maker is completely committed to the chosen alternative. All the data and information gleaned and interpreted has pointed to this alternative and its implementation is just completing the decision making process.

As can be seen from the description above the decision making process is a fluid, continuous and imprecise process. The diagram I have prepared below is by no means a unique representation of the decision making process. There are a number of different versions possible. My objective is to provide you with a basic conceptual model, which will allow you as the decision maker, who is experiencing an undesirable event or outcome, which requires the evaluation of a number of complex issues, to understand effectively evaluate all the alternatives and reach a good decision.

The diagram below summarises the process I have described above and attempts to offer a description of the fluid nature of the process, yet is limited by the imprecise limit of the space limitations of this page.

 

 

 

 

 

Turn Problem Solving into Decision Making and Workable Solutions

The ever increasing rate of change in our world, over the past few decades, has resulted in the challenges we face, becoming more and more complex. There is a constant barrage of data and information, through which we need to sort, before we can even begin making any decisions. These constant, accelerating changes, the vast amount of information and the complexities we face every day, has also resulted in much larger interdependencies amongst those impacted by any decision we make. All of these factors have added up and have made decision making far more difficult and complex for business leaders.

The vast amount of data available and the tools, which can be used to help business leaders shift through and analyse the data overwhelm, has seen leaders respond to these new complexities, by placing a far greater focus on analytics and data driven decision making. Leaders are becoming far more dependent on vast amounts of data to make decisions and are losing the confidence to listen to their internal voice of experience. They have turned down the volume on their leadership intuition and instead have learnt to trust the data to guide them, when making decisions.

I have observed a definite trend, in all the leaders, at the businesses where I consult. They have all moved toward an increased need for data and tools to analyse this data. Yet, despite, this increased attention, massively increased volume of data and tools to analyse and interpret the data, the decisions made by all these leaders does not always improve. I accept that the rapid rate of change, the complexities we face and the interdependencies amongst those impacted by every decision, makes data and analytical tools crucial to any leader. The challenge is that the leaders I have observed rely completely on the data, to guide them to make decisions.

The data and tools for analysing the data are only support mechanisms for any leader and are by no means enough on their own. The data and analytics only support the leader to make any decision and are by no means enough on their own. If any leader is to excel in their role as a leader and to ensure that the decisions they make are valid and in the best interest of all stakeholders. They must ensure that they trust their insight, experience and ability to effectively interpret all the data they receive. The reason many leaders fail to make credible decisions, is because they rely almost exclusively on the data they have analysed and they do not listen to their inner voice of experience, insight and foresight.

The second challenge I have observed in the leaders I have consulted with over the past few years, is that they are relying on analytical tools and techniques, which are outdated. If leaders are to begin making credible and effective decisions going forward, I believe that it is time to rethink how we use all the data, which is all around us and that leaders need learn to trust themselves, where they use their innate leadership intuition and experience to analyse and more effectively utilise the data.

This is best achieved when leaders commit to flex their decision making muscle, as often as possible and they work to consistently improve their skill and ability to lead and make decisions.

Effectively analysing and Utilising Data to Make Decisions

It is most certainly time to rethink how we utilise, analyse and interpret the massive amount of data all around us. The analytical tools and techniques employed by most of the leaders I have observed, was designed for a much simpler world. The rapid rate of change and the ever increasing amount of data, which is available, has seen these tools become ineffective and outdated. This means that leaders are making decisions, with flawed information. As they have begun to rely exclusively on the analysed data and have turned down the volume on their own leadership intuition experience and foresight. This has seen many leaders often make ineffectual decisions, which have a negative impact on their businesses. Leaders are also allowing themselves to become overwhelmed with data overload.

Understanding How Your Brain Manages Data

Your brain is designed to work hard to map what it currently sees or observes, to what it already knows. To do this when it is overwhelmed with a vast amount of data overload, it must distort, ignore and sub optimise data. This system of comparing everything to what you already know was a very effective system forty thousand years ago, when our brains were evolving to their current structure. Back then things were pretty static and everything in our world changed really slowly. Therefore the brains ability to link all the new things it encountered to the old things it had already experienced, if not always accurate, provided our species with a survival advantage.

The challenge we face today is that we live in a vastly differently world, than we inhabited forty thousand years ago. Things are changing so rapidly in our world today, the business cycle is getting shorter and shorter, companies are developing products with an expected life cycle of only six months, completely new products, which did not even exist are created every thirty seconds today. This rate of change is not showing signs of slowing down either. The rate of change is accelerating at an ever increasing pace.

All of this means that your brain is completely overwhelmed with new data and input information, resulting in your brain kicking into a higher gear, where you distort, ignore and sub-optimise the entire data overload at an ever increasing rate. All the graphs, charts and reports become overwhelming and as such your brain will filter as much of the information as possible. This entire process happens subconsciously and so the more irrelevant data you try to utilise and analyse to make decisions, the more likely it is that your brain will filter the information and the less likely you are to see any problem areas.

The second area of concern revolves around the area of massively increased volume, intensity and the dynamic nature of all the data we need to process, analyse and utilise to make decisions. The traditional tools, which were designed to analyse and display data, were designed to work with far smaller volumes of data than we now encounter. They were also designed to work with static data, which remained stable for a reasonable length of time. The rapidly changing environment, we now do business in, has made the expectation that data will remain static redundant. Things are changing at such an incredibly fast pace that we need to analyse and measure dynamic data changes all the time.

The massive amount of data available and the dynamic nature of this data make it crucial to very quickly identify the exact info you need to make any decision and to eliminate any surplus info as quickly as possible. The secret to utilise data effectively is to eliminate as much surplus data as possible and then to ensure that all the data is easily understood and displayed on one page, for easy reference. If the report you are utilising to assist you to make any decision is longer than one page, you will either miss the detail you need to see or you will waste an inordinate amount of time analysing data you do not need.

Another challenge faced by leaders, when they need to make any decisions, is the pressure and speed required as a result of this dynamic business environment, we operate in. Leaders are expected to make high quality decisions almost in an instant. Deciding and acting is always the responsibility of the leader. It has however become very challenging for leaders to make any decisions, because of the dynamic nature of the business environment, with far more inputs and a myriad of interdependencies.

This challenge is exacerbated by the way data is presented. Reports are designed to inform, rather than to provide insights. These reports are designed to report by category or to merely offer metrics. This way of presenting data was effective, even when there were fewer connections between data. Now with the major complexities and interdependencies related to any decision making process, this outdated method is almost pointless. There is a gap between having information and utilising this to make any decision. The dynamic nature of the business environment and the ever shifting and changing world, has now resulted in a huge gap forming between the available information and its effectiveness as a decision making tool.

For Example: It is important to know the consumer buying habits and patterns in any market. The current way of providing reports as used by companies at the moment, only provides metrics, there is no provision made to consider crucial factors such as strategy, core competencies and the company’s competitive position. As you know strategy, core competencies and the competitive position of any business are the key factors, which drive any decisions. It is for this reason that the current way of providing reports, where only metrics are presented, should be revised to include more relevant information around core competencies, strategy, market conditions and competitive position. It is no longer adequate to provide discrete facts; it has become crucial to provide meaningful information, which provides real answers. The information should be prepared to provide data relative to the decision, which needs to be made or that provides actual answers to crucial questions, needed to make great decisions.

For Example: most scorecard reports are designed to list categories. They list each metric, their current level of performance and then this is compared to some sort of historical data. All this information is useful in certain contexts, but does not reveal the real information you need to know, when looking at a scorecard. Your goal when exploring any scorecards is most certainly not to be informed about targets, performance or history. Your role as a leader is to have meaningful information, which will give you the necessary background to allow you to create a plan and to take action. If reports are prepared with the result in mind, they will be far more effective and provide a meaningful support mechanism to any business leader.

Obviously when you review a traditional report detailing categories and metrics, you will go through the report line by line. As you try to absorb all the data overwhelm, your brain will be trying to compare this data with previous information, which you have encountered and it will be filtering, eliminating and removing potentially crucial information, simply because of the information overload. We look at the data overload and try to answer the same question as we progress down the report, line by line. “Is the metric on target and what is the trend telling me”? This is a really ineffective and inefficient way of analysing data. Why ask the same question, repeatedly, when you can organise the data to allow you to discover the info you need to allow you to make any decision.

When you create a decision or outcome driven report, which will support you to efficiently make any decision, it will look like the report below:

 

Monitor and Take action if downward trend continues

  • Product Quality
  • Service Call response times
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Sales Staff conversion rates

 

 

On Track – No Action Required

  • Market Share
  • Employee Training
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Market penetration

 

 

Take action immediately

  • Cost of Goods sold too high or rising
  • Operating expenses rising above possible price increase

Monitor and Take Action Should Upward Trend slow or stop

  • Profit percentage
  • Net Profit
  • Interest Income

Yes

 

 

 

On Track – Achieving Target

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No

 

Decreasing

Increasing

Targeted

Performance

 

             

When you use this method to analyse and present only the data you need to utilise in the decision making process. You organise the metrics according to the question you need answered or the decision you need to make, rather than the data being organised on the report in terms of the metric, with no thought about the decision you need to make. This simplified way of analysing only the data you need, in a way that answers the question you need answered or the decision you need to make simplifies the process and allows you to get a clear picture.

This will allow you to immediately know where to focus your attention. This focused approach eliminates the need to wade through unnecessary rows and rows of repetitive data, which only overwhelms the reader. When you organise the data according to the focused approach as defined above, there is no need to wade through reams of data to get the answer. This organised, decision driven approach provides all the answers you need. The raw numbers are irrelevant, all the reader is interested in is what the numbers or trends mean and what action is required.

This approach allows you to very quickly get the answers you need and to track only the trends you need to be observing. Of course you can still analyse the raw data and use the numbers, if necessary to further understand or diagnose any challenges. The raw data or metrics are merely an input; they are not the answer you are looking for. So having all the numbers on any report, will actually just slow you down and even force you to become overwhelmed and overloaded. Too much data on any report is difficult to analyse and will result in your brain filtering or ignoring crucial information.

Action Idea: Think about all the reports you utilise to assist you when making any important decisions. Are you asking and answering the same questions on every line or even if you have become more organised and have adopted a colour coding scheme to highlight and track certain issues. Does the report actually answer the questions you have around the decision you need to make. To make the reports you use in future really effective, where they will serve as a powerful decision making tool. Organise the report to answer the real questions you have and simplify the process, by using the process I described above.

When you are rethinking how you can utilise the data you need in future, to assist you to make meaningful decisions, you need to make. Will require a major shift to the way you have operated in the past. Your historical practices of analysing, reading and attempting to analyse and reanalyse rows and rows of metrics, will most certainly not serve you going forward.

The table below will help you to see the crucial shifts you need to make, to finally equip yourself to utilse all the data you have to make meaningful decisions. When you make these crucial shifts, to the way you use and present the data you need to make decisions, you will have a method for turning raw, overwhelming data into a set of useful decision making power tools.

Traditional Method

New Method

Data is categorised, organised, summarised, restated and the facts are then stated in a chronological order A synthesizing process, in which all the facts and relationships between all the facts, are pulled together, to create new insights, which concisely and as simply as possible answer the questions “How is the business doing” and secondly “What action needs to be taken to introduce the changes necessary to achieve the outcomes required”
All the data is arranged and organised around merely providing loads of overwhelming information All the data is organised around assisting you to make decisions and to help you to  develop plans that will help you to take the action necessary to achieve the outcomes you need to achieve
Possible answers and recommendations are vaguely provided at the end of a linear report Meaningful answers are provided at the beginning of the report, because of the simply process followed
The report provider uses bias to drive answers The report is designed using a bias to drive questions, which will allow you to understand and highlight the value on offer. The report is built in a focused fashion to help the decision making process.
The entire decision support process consists of a number of static reports, which attempt to provide loads of data to answer all possible questions The decision making process is facilitated by using a large number of dynamic reports. Each of which is designed to answer a specific question.

 

I am sure that these changes seem obvious and really simple and I am sure that there are a number of effective leaders, who have already started to move in this direction. The challenge when introducing these crucial changes is the massive inertia, which exists in most organisations, which will pull all leaders back into the old way of doing things. Unless your business operates in a relatively static and simple environment, the old ineffective techniques of the past, will not serve you or your business going forward. If you want your business to thrive in the new dynamic business environment, we operate in today, it is crucial that you adopt this new decision making strategy.

The secret to making effective decisions is to limit the data overwhelm and to ensure that all the data you utilise to guide you when making any decisions, is correctly analysed and processed before you even see it. It is also crucial that you turn the volume up on your own leadership intuition and that you once again learn to trust your experience and follow your gut. Flex your decision making muscle as often as possible. Become decisive and trust yourself. Too much analysis and data overwhelm, will often result in paralysis and ultimately poor decisions.

Conclusion

Approach any events, which are not aligned with the outcome you need or expect from a positive perspective and the decision making process will be initiated from a positive empowered position. Decisions are effectively just an attempt on the part of the decision maker to alter the outcome they are currently enjoying, so that they can change a set of circumstances, by first assessing all the available alternatives, weighing these against the expected outcome and then choosing the best alternative.

Any decision made, upon which action is taken, will result in a different outcome, for the decision maker. Every new decision must thus be constantly measured to see if it is delivering the expected outcome. If it is not then the decision making process needs to be repeated, until the expected or desired outcome is achieved.

References

  1. Brehm. J.W (1966)A theory of Psychological Reactance. Academic New York
  2. Beer, S Wiley (1975) Platform for change, Academic New York
  3. Janis. I. L and Mann (1977). Decision Making: A psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice and Commitment. Free Press, New York
  4. YU, P.L M.K Starr (1977), Studies in the management Sciences, vol 6. North Holland Publishing, Amsterdam.
  5. http://www.virtualsalt.com/crebook6.htm
  6. Kepner, Charles H.; Tregoe, Benjamin B. (1965). The Rational Manager: A Systematic Approach to Problem Solving and Decision-Making. McGraw-Hill

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