Decision-Making: Process and Tools
“Step Two - Follow a Basic Decision Process”
by Wm. M. Pinson, Jr., Th.D. with Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 10 - Decision-Making
1. Benefits of a Basic Process for Making
Decisions--A process for making decisions is better than a
haphazard, hit-and-miss approach. Because most persons have not had the benefit
of a careful study of decision-making, many lack such a process. Hopefully,
out of this study you will develop your own systematic process. Experts
in decision-making point out that a systematic approach helps you to:
Address the right decision problem
Clarify your real objectives
Develop a range of creative alternatives
- Understand the consequences of your decision
- Make appropriate tradeoffs among conflicting objectives
- Deal sensibly with uncertainties
- Take account of your risk-taking attitude
- Plan ahead for decisions linked over time
[Hammond, p. 217]
2. Criteria for the Basic Process--Regardless
of the kind of decision to be made, certain steps are deemed important to
arrive at a good decision. These steps may be taken subconsciously or very
deliberately, informally or formally, but in any case each is important. The
amount of time, thought, and energy given to a decision will vary; the basic
steps should not.
And what are these steps? Authorities in decision-making differ
as to which ones are absolutely essential and how to name or describe each
step. Whatever process or steps a person may follow, an effective decision-making
process will fulfill these six criteria:
It focuses on what is important.
It is logical and consistent.
It acknowledges both subjective and objective factors
and blends analytical with intuitive thinking.
It requires only as much information and analysis as
is necessary to resolve a particular dilemma.
It encourages and guides the gathering of relevant
information and informed opinion.
It is straightforward, reliable, easy to use, and flexible.
[Hammond, p. 4]
3. To these the Christian servant leader will add:
(see also SL#36)
It begins with a faith commitment in God.
It utilizes the resources available to the follower
of Jesus Christ.
It is consistent with the life and teaching of Jesus
It seeks to advance the purposes of the kingdom of God.
Some authorities on decision-making endeavor to reduce the
process to a formula or easily memorized summary. This approach is represented
by the following, labeled the PROACT approach:
Linked Decisions [Hammond, p. 5]
4. Most agree that the following are important to
the decision-making process, each of which is included in
the above “formula”:
Recognize the need for a decision.
Determine if this decision really needs to be made.
Identify the persons who should make the decision--individual,
if so, whom; group, if so, which--and the person or group to assign the
Understand the nature of the decision and/or problem.
State the objectives or priorities involved in the decision.
Gain opinions about the options or alternatives.
Obtain facts and information related to the decision.
Identify the boundary conditions related to the decision.
State clearly the options or alternatives.
Evaluate the options or alternatives.
Make a tentative decision and assess it.
Make the final decision and announce or publicize it.
Implement the decision.
Assess the impact of the decision and monitor the results.
Analyze the process used in making the decision and see
what can be learned in order to improve the decision-making process.
Certainly, this is an idealized/complex process. Not all, perhaps only a
few, will follow it in detail. Some will leap past certain steps. Yet it does
set forth important ingredients to any decision-making process. So, let’s
combine and examine these briefly in the next eight steps as Steps 3 through
10 (SL#38, #39, #40, #41).
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© 2006 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and
copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership