Decision-Making Model Paper
Length: 1046 words (3 double-spaced pages)
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Life is full of decisions. Some decisions are trivial. Should I choose paper or plastic at the grocery store? Which of the 31 flavors of ice cream should I pick? Other decisions are vital. Should I get married to her or should I take this new job? Your decisions may affect many people or only yourself. In this paper I will present a decision-making model. I will describe a decision that I made at work using this model and how critical thinking impacted that decision.
Decision making, as taken from the Wikipedia (2006) encyclopedia, is defined as "the cognitive process leading to the selection of a course of action among alternatives. Every decision making process produces a final choice called a decision. It can be an action or an opinion. It begins when we need to do something but we do not know what. Therefore, decision-making is a reasoning process which can be rational or irrational, and can be based on explicit assumptions or tacit assumptions." (para.1). Decisions made by using a decision-making model typically result in better decisions. Decisions resulting from the model tend to be more consistent since the same steps are followed each time. Increased thoroughness of decision options considered is another benefit in using a decision-making model, as numerous factors are taken into account.
The following is a decision-making model that I have used to arrive at a decision.
Clarify purpose and boundaries of the decision
o Identify who is affected by the decision
o Identify who will make the decision (individual or group)
o Identify what knowledge or expertise is needed to make the decision
o Identify what information or resources currently exist to help with the decision making process
Define by when the decision needs to be made
Communicate to affected parties who is making the decision and the rationale for it
Define how the decision will be made (e.g. consensus, voting, etc.)
Use appropriate tools that support data gathering (e.g. affinity diagram, brainstorming, fishbone, flowchart, force field, how-how, interrelationship digraph)
Make the decision through the integration of ideas and data, and negotiation and prioritization of ideas
Identify who (individual or group) will implement the decision
Summarize the rationale for the decision
Communicate the decision, why it was made and the rationale for it
Define the steps in implementing the decision including the timeframe for completion
Define the method for reporting when something is completed and who receives the report
Identify the process for assessing impact of decision
Our textbook defines critical thinking as, "The general term given to a wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions needed to effectively identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments and truth claims, to discover and overcome personal prejudices and biases, to formulate and present convincing reasons in support of conclusions, and to make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do" (Bassham et al., 2002, p.569). Simply put, critical thinking is being able to look at information critically. It means asking questions about the information presented and then analyzing the answers. It means using the answers to create new ideas, solve problems, and make decisions. Critical thinking is imperative to making sound decisions using a decision-making model.
Last year my company swapped the departments reporting to several managers. I was one of the managers that assumed responsibility for a new staff. After getting acquainted with my department, I had to decide if the team was optimally organized. If I concluded that it was not organized to be most efficient and productive, I had to decide how to rearrange it. I used the decision-making model to determine what, if any, organizational changes I'd have to make.
As part of the framing process of the model, I knew that I alone had to make the decision and it would potentially impact the whole group. However, I wanted get the input from the group since they were more knowledge regarding strengths of each member and they were familiar with the team dynamics. I did not want to make, or at least announce, any changes too quickly to let the shock of having a new boss settle down.
In the deciding phase I took each individual out one-on-one for coffee. I had a list of questions that I had sent to them in advance that I would cover in our coffee break. I stated that my intention was to get to know them and I encouraged them to bring questions for me. I asked questions regarding their perceived role in the group, their career plans, and I asked them what they would change about the group if they were manager for the day. I was able to gather a lot of information through this process. I learned that the previous manager had the staff organized fairly well, with a few exceptions. I decided to only make two minor changes. I decided to shift two individuals to different teams within the group.
As part of the communication phase of the process I conferred my proposed changes with the previous manager of the team. She validated my decision. I shared the rationale behind my organization changes with my boss.
I implemented the change when taking on a new project for the team. I told the impacted individuals that I need their specialized skill sets on their new teams. They seemed to take the news of their moves well and they continue to be content on their new teams. I continue to have periodic one-on-one meetings with my staff. During those meetings I assess the impact of my decision.
Consciously or unconsciously, decisions are made daily at work and at home. These decisions can be made by individuals, work groups, or even families. The more important a decision is the more it necessitates thorough consideration and critical thinking. A decision-making model is a good process to produce optimum decisions.
Decision-Making Model. (2002). The Learning Organization, UM Libraries. Retrieved September 12, 2006, from http://www.lib.umd.edu
Wikipedia. (2006). Decision making. Retrieved September 13, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org
Bassham, G., Nardone, H., Wallace, J., & Irwin, W. (2002). Critical Thinking − A Student's Introduction. New York: The McGraw−Hill Companies