Decision Making





Making decisions is a skill that is required of every person in almost every aspect of life. Seldom does an hour go by without an individual being faced with some kind of decision to make. Effective decision making and problem solving skills are especially critical for managers or those who assume supervisory responsibilities.  It is hard to imagine a successful manager who is incompetent when it comes to making decisions and solving problems.




We all know that decisions do not mean much unless we back them with the will to carry them out.  It is estimated that 40% of management decisions that are made within business are never implemented.  This statistic demonstrates the need for managers to have a process that enables them to carry out the decisions they make. This process can be represented in the eight steps that make up a decision path.  The purpose for following a decision path is to move from a thinking state into an action state. Once decisions are made and the timing is right, it is time to move the decision through to completion.




Part of the worry we encounter when making decisions arises from the natural tendency to think that once we have decided, we are stuck with our choices for good.  It is important to recognize that many decisions allow for some flexibility to take place in the actual implementation.  Often, we are faced with the reality that one clear choice does not stand out above all of the other alternatives, or in other cases, there may not appear to be any alternatives available from which to choose.  Proceeding the best you know how, and adapting as you go along is generally better than becoming frozen in a state of inaction for fear of encountering the unknown.  As a result, it takes an element of courage, determination, and recognition that there is generally much more “give” in most decisions than we are aware.




A sense of timing concerning what decisions are made and when they are implemented is another critical component in the decision making process.  A sense of timing requires that we know when to proceed with certain decisions, and when to say no to others. Time is an essential element when making key decisions.  Proper timing facilitates smooth implementation and can prevent making dangerous, premature decisions.

DECISION MAKING STEPS                                                       GROUP PROCESS ROLES


1.         Identify the Decision that Needs to be Made               Initiate, give information

  • Gather information.                                                         Find out, summarize.
  • Encourage all involved to give input                                  Listen, keep communication open.
  • Clearly state the decision that needs to be made.             Come to agreement.
  • Determine whose decision it is.                                      




Once the decision that needs to be made is clearly state, agreed upon, and written down, then:


2.         Come Up With Possible Alternatives                           Encourage group input/participation.

  • Involve entire team in generating alternatives.                    Clarify, don't criticize.
  • Wait to evaluate alternatives.                                           Keep communication open.
  • Build on others' proposed alternatives.



When the group has listed several possible alternatives, then:


3.         Evaluate and Determine The Best Decision                 Initiate, give information.

  • Test each possible decision against the facts.                  Find out, summarize
  • Test against the stated goals and objectives.                    Recognize others, reinforce.
  • Identify the pros and cons of each alternative.                   Listen, keep communication open.
  • Select the decision that matches your goals,                   Conduct periodic reality tests.

            is most likely to be carried out, and fully solves                Come to agreement.

            any problems.

  • Clearly state the decision you wish to implement.



Once the decision you wish to implement is clearly stated, agreed upon, and written down, then:


4.         Create and Discuss an Action Plan                              Give information.  Clarify.

  • Communicate what needs to be done                             Assume shared responsibility.

            and by whom.                                                                Make sure all agree on assignments given.

  • Determine how you will implement the decision.              Hold each other accountable.
  • Decide when.  Make sure the timing is right.



Implement the action plan and schedule the evaluation time.


5.         Implement the Action Plan                                          Assume individual responsibility.

  • Have the courage to proceed with the implementation.       Stay focused on carrying out the plan.
  • Allow opportunities for feedback.                                     Show mutual support and encouragement.
  • Be flexible.                                                                    Exhibit enthusiasm and positive attitudes.



During the implementation, monitor how the action plan is being carried out.


6.         Evaluate and Monitor the Results.                               Hold group meetings to review process.

  • Establish a system to monitor the results.                                   Address problem areas/obstacles.
  • Evaluate how well the decision is being implemented        Share feedback. Inform each other.
  • Gather information.  Assess effectiveness of solution.       Allow the group process to build and
  • Adapt and adjust where necessary.                                 enhance the team's skills.