Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Five Pillars to Achieve Decision-Making Maturity

Decision-making capability can be developed, and decision masters can be cultivated, not for status quo, but for leading changes and driving digital transformation effortlessly.

Nature offers countless choices during life struggle. Either at the individual or the corporate level, people have to make decisions, large or small even at daily basis. There are many reasons for making decisions (WHY & WHAT); there are many ways to make decisions (HOW), and there are also different personalities of decision-makers (WHO). And surely there is no “One Size Fits All” formula for making great decisions. Decision power is a mind-power. Decision-making is both science and art.

The issue of the issue is: Decision-making is not an event, but a capability underpinned by a series of interrelated processes or steps. What are important pillars in building the decision-making capability and how to improve its effectiveness and maturity?

  • Perception: Decision power is knowledge-based, perception-driven, and character-oriented. A selection among multiple available choices is a decision. Human knowledge is imperfect about multiple choices and the related outcomes. The knowledge constraint and perception bias are paramount issues during the decision process. Hence, it is important to embrace the contrarian viewpoints and leverage collective insight. Decision power is a mind power, it guides through what to select from available choices, how to accommodate constraints, how to identify bias, how to avoid distractions, and where to show firmness and flexibility. Decision-making is both science and art. Both information and intuition count. Insight-based decision-making is logical because information drives awareness, and intuition makes time-space limitations irrelevant and compensates knowledge deficiency.

  • Principles: Decision maturity is to ensure the right decisions have been made by the right people at the right time. There is fuzziness in the decisions because there is fuzziness in conflicting criteria. Setting principles for improving decision maturity is crucial for making a leap of overall business maturity. Enterprise principles provide a basis for decision-making throughout an enterprise and inform how the organization sets about fulfilling its vision and goals. Principles are those core decisions values (not value as in benefit, but values as in beliefs) that shape behavior and define culture. Principles allow many people at different organizational levels to individually make their own decisions to run in the same direction to meet the same objectives in a consistent and rapid manner. The decision is about future, and future is full of uncertainty. In the Digital Era, making decisions in digital ways means to apply the set of digital principles to make sound judgments and guide decision-making.  

  • Process: People are still decision master, neither process nor data. Decision-making is not a one-time event, but a process, at today’s “VUCA” - volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous digital dynamic, the importance of the process becomes critical as decisions become more complex and involve more diverse stakeholders. You need a sound process to frame the decision, spec out your options, weigh them appropriately with the right people, and actually make a decision. With an effective process, if you mine, cleanse and improve the data to produce information, then combine that information and visualize it in different ways, then you gain the organizational knowledge and from that knowledge, you can capture the insight and make excellent decisions.

  • People: Decision-making assessment starts with the decision-maker evaluation. There are no such perfect decision makers due to cognitive bias, limited knowledge, low EQ maturity, or ineffective decision-making scenario. Making the large, especially strategic decisions is not the easy task. Very few decision masters can make high-effective decisions all the time. In reality, many poor decisions are made by very intelligent people. When you judge something, you form a critical opinion of it based on facts, discerned data, filtered information, and preconceived notions. Often assumptions and prejudices are due to lack of deeper understanding. Many times people make a poor judgment, not because of ignorance, but because of the lack of insight. A good judgment is a must for good decisions. The fact is that decision-making is the professional capability which can be developed. It is the responsibility of each individual to examine themselves and to make sure they are open to true understanding.

  • Practice: Decision-making is the capability. Like many other skills or professional capabilities, it takes practice, practice, and practice more. It is important to leverage multidimensional thinking processes, advanced decision tools, the human’s intuition-gut feelings, and add the “wisdom’ in the decision process to improve the overall effectiveness of decision making.  In the world of uncertainty and ambiguity, the mind with decision wisdom can, by definition, not control the outcome, however, focus on making effective decisions and the best chance for a good outcome is to make a good decision. If the decision-making scenario is well designed and well-executed, you have the highest probability of getting the best outcome in the state of knowledge accessible at the time of decision-making. Always attempt to identify areas in which measurable improvements can be realized via practicing, providing demonstrable progress is essential for improving decision maturity.

The decision is about the future, a decision is needed when there is uncertainty. Decision-making is both art and science. Emotions and intuition matter, but by following the logical scenario of decision-making, it is more science than art. Think slow, and think fast, decision-making capability can be developed, and decision masters can be cultivated, not for status quo, but for leading changes and driving digital transformation effortlessly.


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