Each manager has to make decisions daily whether they are in operations, HR, Accounting, etc. How this decision is made differs from one organization to another depending to what extent the decision-making process is ‘programmed’.
A traditional organization that has a stable business model with clear policies and procedures usually have more programmed decisions. The same can’t always be said about organizations with a more versatile business model like start-ups or small businesses.
The beauty of the programmed decisions making process is, everything is more or less fixed. They are usually based on a clear sequence of procedures and criteria that are applied in any given situation. This helps produces a decision that is consistent with the expectations of all related parties.
For example, an employee requesting a personal loan from his company can accurately predict a reply to his request if the criteria for the personal loan is fully outlined by HR.
But in some cases, managers face more complex situations where they have no clear guidelines to use as a basis for their decisions. These situations can cause undue pressure & stress to the manager. What’s worse it can lead to delays or ineffective decisions which can result in a negative impact on the whole organization.
If you are in such an organization where there is no clarity in the decision-making process, I would like to suggest a simple 3-step model for non-programmed decisions that almost everyone can use. It can be implemented by anyone as the need arise. It is known as the A.R.C of decision making.
Now imagine a situation where you received an order from your boss directly, via email or phone call. Sometimes the order will come through the secretary with limited details. You find yourself in a frustrating situation where you have a shortage of time and information. What should you do? Just follow these 3 simple step
1. Analyze the situation at hand
First, you need to make sure you understand why the request is made, so you need to understand the purpose. The purpose of something is always to achieve the desired outcome Once you know the purpose you can then analyze the situation and break it down as a series of actions/decisions that need to be made to accomplish the purpose.
Beware of creating unnecessary barriers (dependencies) that will delay execution. There are so many decision analysis and decision making tools and techniques available; make use of them! My advice is that you try and familiarize yourself with a few of these tools and use them whenever needed. More complex and high impact situations require a more structured approach.
So how do you analyze the situation? You can just simply ask yourself the following questions:
- Why was I was asked to handle the situation?
- Is it my position, experience, network?
- How I can capitalize on that?
- Who are the stakeholders and what are their interests?
- What are the time limits?
- Who do I need to liaise with at this early stage?
- Who may have encountered a similar situation before?
- What information is missing and where I can find it?
Once you determined your potential sources of information you can start the review process. Previous emails, meeting minutes, internal reports as well as internet and other public resources will give you more depth and higher command of the situation. You will need to take notes, create tables, and draw sketches so you can fully comprehend the situation.
The review phase is very important because it enables you to ask the right questions and prepares you for the next phase.
Communicate for feedback
By now you have become an expert in the matter of hand. That will make you very inquisitive and able to ask the right questions. Prepare your questions. You have already determined your stakeholder so now you need to decide whether it’s best to meet them individually or in a group.
Stakeholders may be internal or external. They include your superiors, colleagues, staff and clients. The depth of data collection at this stage depends on the situation. It can happen via a 5-minute phone call or maybe a few hours workshop.
Make sure you listen more than you talk. Test your theories via questions not via showing off the facts you learned in the review phase.
By this stage you should have developed alternative decisions that you can evaluate based on your priorities whether its time, cost, impact, or all. Remember that you can delegate many of the activities. It’s a good idea to train your staff on certain activities such as reviewing statistics and reports or helping with interviews.
That is the simple process that I used to come to an informed decision. This technique always comes in handy, when you are confronted with an urgent situation that requires a decision on your part.
Happy decision making!
Abdulrahman Bashaikh is the Chief Operating Officer of Awqaf Sulaiman Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi Holding Co. , and is a member of the board of directors of Sulaiman Al Rajhi University, Saudi Arabia.