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Decide with Confidence: Mastering the Art of Effective Decision Making

Many years ago, I was conducting research on various methodologies of formal problem solving that could be incorporated into our organization.

We wanted a methodology that would be intuitive and had to be simple enough that all levels of our organization could participate.

One methodology quickly intrigued us called Kepner-Tregoe (K-T) it was a non-statistical methodology. An attribute of the suite was a methodology on how to make effective decisions. When I reviewed the curriculum with our President, he rapidly dismissed the Decision Making teach, advising me that as an organization we were used to making decisions on a regular basis and in his opinion, we were excellent at this task.

To gain a better understanding K-T I enrolled in a public course which included how to rationally make a decision. It made sense to me, but part of the course requirement was to demonstrate application of the methodology ... so off I went.

We had won a contract to supply a sophisticated part to a major automaker. Part of the process was going to require that we purchase a new and very sophisticated Sintering oven. Perfect !! since the decision had already been made the application of K-T Decision making would be quick, simple and reinforce our already made decision. I was soooo wrong.

The Kepner-Tregoe Decision making methodology requires the various stakeholders to identify "MUSTS", these being the minimal requirements of the final solution. Failing to meet any of those then that candidate would be eliminated from evaluation.

After the "MUSTS" have been identified then an additional list of "WANTS" could be created. These were nice to have but not totally necessary and each "WANT" should be ranked in importance. Some of the "WANTS" could be reflective of a "MUST". For example, as a "MUST" you may identify that the maximum purchase cost should be 1 million dollars. Then as a "WANT" you could indicate "most effective value cost".

Pretty simple ... so off I went on my adventure. First stop was with our metallurgists. They showed me calculations, graphs and even 3D modelling proving why they chose this particular model for the heat vortex's it could create. Cool ... documented those "MUSTS".

Next stop was with our Maintenance Team, here we stumbled into a challenge. They quickly told me that this Sintering oven was a new brand to our organization. Based on their experience they quickly provided me with a list of spare parts to be inventoried and since it was a different brand to our standard this would be a complete investment. They also pointed out some concerns related to accessing service points on the equipment. Took me some time to decide if their concerns should be categorized as either a "MUST" or "WANT"? but we got them on the list.

Finally went to interview our Sintering Department Supervisor who quickly pointed out that the proposed machine was not going to fit in the designated location. He went further that if chosen the ingress and egress of parts would require some very sophisticated (read expensive) equipment. Finally, the machine controls were different to the other machines so more training an education of our team would be required, and should an emergency occur there was a huge chance that a team member would turn an incorrect switch. Added those concerns to the list.

Decided to bring the three parties together and using the K-T Decision making template I had created we went through all of the concerns including those "MUSTS" and "WANTS". A conversation with our primary Sintering machine provider resolved that they could supply a solution to satisfy our metallurgist's concern. That automatically resolved our spare parts concern and with some minor tweaking to the overall design it would fit and function well within our desired location.

Ultimately as a team we were able to make a balanced decision which also helped us avoid spending an additional 2 million dollars. Since then, I have used the methodology constantly both in business and our personal lives. The latest in purchasing our current condo our realtor commented how easy it was to find a solution to our needs, because we had already pre-determined our "MUSTS" and "WANTS".

So before you embark on making a decision spend some time up front to define your needs and quantify the solution you seek.

One approach to decision making is the rational decision-making model. Decision Making is an integral part of Problem Solving. This model consists of several steps:

  1. Identify the Problem: The first step is to recognize that a decision needs to be made and clearly define the problem or opportunity at hand.

  2. Gather Information: Once the problem is identified, gather relevant information related to the decision. This may involve conducting research, gathering data, and consulting with experts or stakeholders.

  3. Identify Alternatives: Generate a range of possible solutions or alternatives to address the problem. Brainstorming techniques can be helpful in this step.

  4. Evaluate Alternatives: Assess the potential outcomes and consequences of each alternative. Consider factors such as feasibility, cost, risks, and benefits.

  5. Make a Decision: Based on the evaluation of alternatives, choose the option that best aligns with your goals and objectives.

  6. Implement the Decision: Put the chosen alternative into action. Develop a plan and allocate resources as necessary to execute the decision effectively.

  7. Monitor and Evaluate: Continuously monitor the implementation of the decision and evaluate its effectiveness. Make adjustments as needed to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved.

This approach to decision making emphasizes a systematic and logical process, allowing individuals or groups to make well-informed decisions based on careful consideration of available information and alternatives.

I do have an effective template to assist with this approach and would be honoured to assist in facilitation of a Decision-Making workshop, just contact us.


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