Saturday, January 9, 2010

Basic Guidelines to Problem Solving and Decision Making

I need to do some decision making...

"Much of what managers and supervisors do is solve problems and make decisions. New managers and supervisors, in particular, often make solve problems and decisions by reacting to them. They are 'under the gun', stressed and very short for time. Consequently, when they encounter a new problem or decision they must make, they react with a decision that seemed to work before. It's easy with this approach to get stuck in a circle of solving the same problem over and over again. Therefore, as a new manager or supervisor, get used to an organized approach to problem solving and decision making. Not all problems can be solved and decisions made by the following, rather rational approach. However, the following basic guidelines will get you started. Don't be intimidated by the length of the list of guidelines. After you've practiced them a few times, they'll become second nature to you -- enough that you can deepen and enrich them to suit your own needs and nature.

(Note that it might be more your nature to view a 'problem' as an 'opportunity'. Therefore, you might substitute 'problem' for 'opportunity' in the following guidelines.)"

Source / read: Basic Guidelines to Problem Solving and Decision Making

Seems a very useful website anyway:

Here's a shorter one: 6 Steps to Better Decision Making, that says:

Decision making is a key role for any manager or leader. Surprisingly many people struggle when it comes to taking decisions. This might be due to:
• Fear of failure
• Lack of a structured approach
• Procrastinating
• Lack of clarity

Whatever the barriers, there are 6 steps that you can follow when taking any decision.
1. Problem Definition
Before you can start to take any decisions, you need to be absolutely clear the problem you are trying to reach a decision on. One simple technique is just to write out in a sentence what the problem is that you need to take a decision on.

2. Assess the implications
All decisions have implications. If it is a decision at work, it has implications for you, your peers, your team and your superiors. Depending on the decision (e.g. a promotion at work) it may even have implications for your family, especially if it involves relocation.

3. Explore different perspectives
Perspectives are simply different lenses through which you look at the problem. By exploring different perspectives you start to get a feel for those that you are most attracted to.

4. Get clear on your ideal outcome
When you are faced with a big decision, it is easy to get lost in the detail and circumstances. An alternative is to get clear on your ideal outcome and use this ideal outcome to inform your choices. Imagine you aspire to be a CFO of a Top 100 company. By having clarity on your outcome, you can make choices on promotions and experience linked to this ideal outcome.

5. Weigh up pros and cons
Another way of looking at a decision is to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options open to you. Simply listing the advantages and disadvantages of each option is a powerful way of moving forward on decisions.

6. Decide and act
Once you have gone through the previous 5 steps, commit to a choice or course of action and start to make it happen. To avoid procrastination, give yourself permission to be okay with any failings that might arise.

At the end of the day there is no magic formula for decision making. Following some simple steps and acting can however move you into the realm of effective decision maker.