There are numerous ways to help ensure that the best possible decisions are made for any problem, at any time. They include divine inspiration, relying on elders and authority, and a democratic vote. Unfortunately, divine inspiration is provided rarely to most of us; older and more senior staff are not necessarily wiser; and , asking for a show of hands for a decision is useful only if everyone is uniformly wise (or uniformly ignorant.)
In my view, the best way to have consistently excellent decisions is to have an organizational process by which ample and proper information is provided to a knowledgeable and empowered group for analysis and decision. The team itself can provide great benefits if it is composed of members with differing backgrounds, differing areas of knowledge and expertise. Bob Sneider describes the general steps in organizing the team as: a) what is the problem; b) who are the team members, and what are the ground rules; c) define work plan and schedules for accomplishment; and d) get it done!
What sort of organizational process is necessary for analysis and decision-making? It appears to me to require four steps:
- Collection of relevant information (carefully sorted as to fact vs opinion)
- A team review of the properly prepared information
- The solicitation of opinions from team members and, lastly,
- The extraction and aggregation of the wisest thoughts of the team by the team leader.
Note that listening skills are particularly required in the reviewing group, and especially of the team leader. The value of a good public speaker is well-known, but it should be realized that speaking skills are of a lesser use in management than listening skills. If it were otherwise, or most outstanding decision-makers would be actors and T.V. announcers.
Stay tuned to Roxanna Oil Company’s news section for future posts on “Great Decisions Under Uncertainty.”