Decision-Making: Process and Tools
Step Three - “Identify a Basic Decision Process” and
Step Four - “Involve the Right People” (SL#38)
by Wm. M. Pinson, Jr., Th.D. with Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 10 - Decision-Making
Author and Philosopher Wilfred A. Peterson says, “Decision is the courageous facing of issues, knowing that if they are not faced, problems will remain forever unanswered.” --Bethel, p. 149
How do you determine which decisions ought to be tackled? Which are the
really important ones in a mix of decisions? That is tough to answer and
depends on many factors. However, if a person has his or her overall values
and goals clearly in mind (a personal or organizational mission and value
statement will help), then those decisions are most important that either
serve to greatly advance or horribly hinder reaching those goals or abiding
by those values.
Isn't it ironic that early in the decision-making process you are called on to make a decision about which decision to deal with? But that's the way it is.
You can make a well-considered, well-thought-out decision, but if you've started from the wrong place--with the wrong decision problem--you won't have made the smart choice. The way you state your problem frames your decision. It determines the alternatives you consider and the way you evaluate them. Posing the right problem drives everything else. [Hammond, p. 15]
As much as possible, frame the nature of the decision in a positive way. Look at the decision more as an opportunity than a problem (even though it may be a problem!). By wording the decision in a positive way, the outcome is likely to be more positive and more readily accepted.
Identify the Person or Persons Who Should Make the Decision--Even if you assess that a decision needs to be made, you are not necessarily the person to make it. If not you, then who? Who is responsible for this decision? That depends on the nature of the decision. If it is a decision that calls for individual rather than group decision-making, these questions might help: Who is most qualified to deal with this matter? Who has the time available to deal with it? Who has the biggest stake in the correct decision? If you are not the best person to deal with the decision, you will need to determine how to enlist the appropriate decision maker.
Usually the person who is most responsible or who will be the most efficient in implementing the decision ought to be the decision maker. In other words, those closest to the problem likely will be the choice to deal with it. But this is not always true. Sometimes a person may be so involved in the problem that he/she cannot deal with it objectively.
Keep these factors in mind: “Upward delegation” often exists in an organization; persons in a structure may try to pass the decision-making buck back to the person who assigned it to them. A “gung ho” member of an organization may take on decisions that he or she is not really equipped to deal with--either because that is his or her nature or because he or she desires to please or make a name for himself or herself.
If the decision calls for group action, then someone must determine which group. In an organization, the structure of the organization may well determine the group. For example, in a church if a staff member is causing serious problems and the pastor or staff leader has been unable to resolve the matter, then the personnel or some appropriate standing committee likely is the appropriate group to decide what to do. If no group is the routine choice, then the leader of the organization must make the decision as to the group to deal with the decision.
Decisions! Decisions! Even before you get to the actual process of dealing with a specific decision, there are decisions to make--like who is to be involved.