Making DecisionsGetting it right the first time

Published September 2011 Updated January 2012 11 lectures
Prof. J. Edward Russo
Cornell University, USA

Making decisions may be the most important activity that managers perform for which they have likely received no training. In the traditional command-and-control model, decisions were made at the top and implemented below. In the new organizational paradigm that is flatter, faster, more horizontal and process-oriented, decision making has been... read morepushed down to those closest to the problem – and closest to the needed information. The trouble is that too often managers have been given decision making responsibility without being given decision making skills. Managers may understand their technical area, be able to describe an efficient engineering process, optimize the living daylights out of a product or project; but they have almost never received training in good decision making.

Certainly, some decisions are easy; but many others are not – and they are often the most important ones. These decisions are complicated by multiple objectives, limited information, too much uncertainty, and different stakeholders who hold conflicting objectives. What do you do then?

The answer is the same as for the engineering project: you need a good process. There are people who have worked to understand decision making as a process, and to develop frameworks and guidelines for a smooth decision process. They have also learned where decisions are most likely to go awry – the most common human shortcomings and the most challenging decision situations.

This set of talks exposes those “decision traps” and conveys the components of a good decision process.