Thursday, 23 December 2010

The importance of Decision Making

To Decide - or Not to Decide

Shakespeare's Hamlet struggled with his "Final Exit" dilemma of whether "to be or not to be. His classic soliloquy lives on as the dramatic portrait of any human being facing a critical decision, especially the final one.

Freely making and executing a decision is the very essence of human life, where the most complex brain on Earth can guide it (but often doesn't because emotion typically overwhelms rationality). Flowers and plants don't decide anything - they just grow naturally from the earth and toward the sun. Animals make decisions every waking moment of their lives, whether to run, search, fly or fight - but their decisions are mainly instinctive, based on automatic and built-in reflexes of continuous stimulus and response. Only humans have the rational capacity of reflecting on the consequences of decisions before making and executing them.

Even etymologically the word "decide" has ancient and profoundly meaningful origins. The word "decide" stems from the Latin root "caedo," meaning "to cut," which is exactly what a decision does: a decision cuts off most options and leaves alive only the one or few decided upon. Modern managers know this well as they face decisions daily that either make their careers or ruin them (and their organizations).

The Essence of the Executive: to Decide
Indeed, the essence of the executive, and why CEOs are paid so highly, is the enormous effect of an executive's decisions, often on millions of people, and the long-range consequences of extraordinary success (IBM's PC) or disaster (Ford's Edsel). Most people try to avoid such massive decision-making and leave it to others such as their bosses, priests, lawyers, accountants or other authorities.

But, for an executive, making such decisions each day is his essential function, the special skill or gift, which distinguishes him sharply from all his subordinates in an organization.

Link: Decision Making