Theme #1: “No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be…” Isaac Asimov
Decision making is the foundation for a good leader, a successful business, and a productive manager. Decision making is what moves the business towards its vision and meets it objectives. Leaders and managers alike must understand how to make the best decision they can. In the 21st century, good leaders will need to make decisions in a focused and measured manner while adhering to the fast pace of changing competitive demands.
- You Can’t Be a Wimp—Make the Tough Calls
- Thoughts on Leadership: How Important is Decision-Making? (2 pages)
- A New Era for Global Leadership Development (2 pages)
- Great Leaders are Great Decision-Makers: Three Qualities to Take the Paralysis out of Decision Analysis (3 pages)
- Leadership Decision Making Utilizing a Strategic Focus to Enhance Global Achievement (6 pages)
- A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making (A new way of approaching decision making for the demands of the 21st Century)
- Consensus Decision Making the Future (4 pages)
- Data Scientists the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century (how technology will affect decision making)
Theme #2: “Because I am thinking in a broader way, I feel like I am able to make better decisions.” Takafomi Horie
Critical thinking is the most valuable tool in decision making second only to the decision making process. In some ways it is very much the chicken and the egg phenomena.
- Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts (26 pages)
- Examples of Using Critical Thinking to Make Decisions in the Workplace (1 page)
Sub theme: How critical thinking could have prevented these huge business mistakes. The readings below demonstrate how three major companies made bad decisions and discuss the efforts each company made to recover from its mistakes.
- It seemed like a good idea at the time (1 page)
- Dirty Rotten strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely (26 pages)
- How Kodak Failed (1 page)
- The Rise and Fall of Eastman Kodak: Bumbling the Future: a Tale of Two Companies (4 pages)
- How Kmart Blew It (2 pages)
- The Story of Kmart’s Reorganization (3 pages)
- Kremed! The Rise and Fall of Krispy Kreme is a Cautionary Tale of Ambition, Greed, and Inexperience (2 pages)
- Krispy Kreme: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda (2 pages)
- Behind the Krispy Kreme Turnaround (1 page)
Theme #3: “Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.”
There is a relationship between problem solving (a very managerial thing to do) and decision making (a very leader like thing to do). Managers most often find themselves making decisions as a result of a problem. Decision making is about making choices from a selection of alternatives. Problem solving has its last element selecting between possible solutions or alternatives and in this sense a decision is made. Decision making however can stand on its own in that while decisions can stem from a problem they can also be proactive in nature. They can be made in anticipation or for future execution. For instance the decision to develop a new product line or enter a new market place. Understanding the difference between a problem and a decision is critical in the approach one takes.
- What is Decision Making – #1 (1 page)
- What is Decision Making – #2 (1 page)
- What is Problem Solving? – #1 (1 page)
- What is Problem Solving – #2 (1 page)
- What is Problem Solving – #3 (1 page)
- What is Problem Solving – #4 (1/2 page)
- Difference Between Problem-Solving and Decision Making (2 page)
Sub theme: Complex Versus Simple Decisions
Learning Activity 1 – Theme One
Select one of the bad decisions featured in the reading material for week one. Research the decision process and then identify the factors that led to the decision and those which were not considered. Then discuss what in the process itself might have been changed to make a better decision.
Learning Activity 2 – Theme Two
Critical Thinking and a good decision process makes for the best kind of decision making.
After reading this week’s material explain what Einstein meant by these words.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them.”
~ Albert Einstein
Be sure to address what is meant by critical thinking and its function in the decision making process.
Learning Activity 3 – Theme Three
In the interview with Ram Charan he references that decisions are harder to make today because of the way doing business has changed. Businesses have to make more complex decisions with even more data than in the past century. It is for this reason that this course focuses on complex decision making. It is important to understand what the difference is between a problem and a decision as well as the simple versus complex decision and the way they are approached in terms of the process.
Problem or Decision-Complex or Simple
Read the following scenarios below and identify whether the facts are stating a problem or decision. If the scenario is a decision explain why you think it is a simple or complex decision. Using your reading explain why you made your choice. Include in your explanation the difference between solving a problem and making a decision. Be sure to reference the reading in your explanations. Then post your answers and compare notes.
1) Microsoft is finding itself at an impasse, with Google and Apple taking the lion’s share of the growth. Change is needed. Some executives at Microsoft feel that a creative and expansive approach toward product development is needed while others feel that simply improving the existing products is sufficient. Which is the better way?
2) You are a conductor on a train. A woman gets on without a ticket. You tell her that the fare is $2, plus $1 for not buying a ticket at the station. The woman refuses to pay the extra dollar, although she has the money. She says she didn’t know the rule. You do not believe her. You have seen her many times riding the train, and you know there is a sign posted at the station where she got on. The rules say that a passenger must be made to pay or they must be put off the train, if necessary by calling the police. This would delay the train and make the other passengers late. The other passengers are listening to your conversation. Do you enforce the rule or not?
3) Maxwell is a clothing wholesaler. He has been in business for twenty years. He has a good reputation. He buys goods against cash and sells on credit to his customers. Recently one of his big clients went bankrupt leaving him in debt and cash poor. He needs cash to finance more stock. He is worried about the future of the company and the safety of his family’s future. Assuming he can get a short term loan does he take or not?
4) You are a newly promoted sergeant and the platoon leader just made you a squad leader. During your initial encounter with the members of your squad, you sense some resentment as their “new” leader. The squad leader you have replaced was popular with them, but the platoon leader relieved him for failure to motivate the squad to achieve standards. Your first assignment as squad leader is to fold the U.S. flag at a ceremony. While you are meeting briefly with the platoon sergeant, your squad departs for the football field to prepare for a rehearsal. During the meeting, the platoon sergeant tells you who in your squad has been on these details before. As you approach the field, you see your squad relaxing. Instead of going straight into a rehearsal, you decide to have a few knowledgeable people demonstrate how to fold the flag. You state to the squad that you are going to conduct a demonstration and for them to move into a circle. They don’t move. You walk up to PFC Hart, whom the platoon sergeant said knows how to fold the flag, and he gives you a challenging stare as if to say, “I don’t want to be a demonstrator.” You ask him to come forward and take the flag. He says something disrespectful and still doesn’t move. This action infuriates you, but you control your emotions and remain calm. Your mind swiftly goes to work on the situation. This subordinate has challenged your authority and put you in a difficult position. He has given you a major disciplinary action disrespect and insubordination—before you have even had the opportunity to get to know your squad members and the informal norms of the squad. The way you handle this situation will have a major impact on the cohesion, discipline, and the respect these people will have for you. What do you do?