Saturday, October 19, 2013

Time, Team and Decision Making

Decision Fast, Decision Slow, the key is to make right decision timely.

How to make effective decisions is both art and science. Shall business leaders make the decision all by themselves or is it a collective effort to leverage the wisdom of the crowd, does time affect the quality of decision making, What are the decision principles or processes to follow?

Time is a critical factor in group decision-making scenario. The discussion focuses on the rational / instinctive balance under time pressure. There are different factors mainly drive the quality of group decisions under time pressure. Potentially, longer time frames allow the creation of more alternatives from which to choose, using both rational and instinctive knowledge. Time also allows a decision-making process to emerge by consent. But under time pressure, a group process to decide usually doesn't emerge, because that takes time. So the decision process is usually ineffective; decision choice is pretty random. The exception is where "instant leadership" is acknowledged by the group. And they have some degree of decision-making skill in contexts of uncertainty.

The main issue with group decision is also tied up to which is going to be the process to come up with the final decisions: Weighted voting, consensus, unanimity, etc. All those can slow down the entire process and hinder the quality of the final decision, time is an interesting variable to insert into this scenario, as under that constraint you then have to adjust your overall process to be able to act within that boundary. As most of the time, group thinking does add alternatives, so you end up doing more, wherever it is the right or wrong doing,  it is still debatable, but it adds some degrees of security to act based on the overall wisdom of the decision rather than relying just on one person bias/knowledge.

 “Fast Decision, Slow Decision”: Fast decisions are made of necessity. But a condition of benefiting from considered decisions is having a good decision -making the process to use the time effectively.  There’s research into leadership that basically says, "If speed matters, you need someone with experience - they will make better decisions. If speed doesn't matter, you need someone with "smarts" as then they will have the time to make better decisions than you would get from the evidence alone. Some say, cognitively the shorter time for decision making helps make the decision (right or wrong) more concrete.

The Wisdom of Crowds and the Abilene Paradox: Teams decision works because they bring different perspectives and information to the table. They help balance out the biases that from which we all suffer. They help generate more of everything (viable alternatives, criteria, etc.) all of which is shown to improve the quality of decisions. However, there is also the Abilene Paradox that comes into play often in groups. There are a number of contrary factors at play in a team making a decision. In an Abilene paradox, a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many of the individuals in the group. It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group's and, therefore, does not raise objections. A common phrase relating to the Abilene paradox is a desire to not "rock the boat."

Well align People, Process, and Technology in Decision Making Scenario: All decisions were difficult and time-consuming as goals and alternatives were continuously being rehashed, debated and tweaked but no one wanted to actually make a decision. Therefore, an effective decision-making scenario takes well alignment of people, process, and technology, implementing a decision-making software tool does make decision making more systematic: After the initial learning curve, the group decision-making sessions are short, productive and well documented. The process organized through the software helps organize the goals, the criteria and provides a sensitivity analysis tool. As a result, the debate in the decision-making sessions cut out the bickering about the input and more about expected outcome to meet the goals of the group. The group members believe they are making better decisions and they will often go back to review the decisions, update the outcome and comment on what worked and what needs to be worked on. Many are using the decision tool as a "corporate knowledge base" to help make a decision in the future. 

Either decision fast or decision slow; the individual decision or group decision, it takes right information, organized process, efficient decision analytics tool, timely feedback, and follow the decision principles in order to make decision scenario more productive and effective.


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