Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

One of the reasons for conflict and misunderstanding in organizational life is in regard to the decision-making flow. There are a number of approaches you can take to decision-making, one of the skills of leadership being knowing when to apply which approach.

Some of us have tendencies to make decisions in isolation and come off the mountain-top with the vision for the next year. Those of us who tend to do that miss out on engaging the many people who may have perspectives and voices that would contribute significantly to the process. Others of us are so consensus oriented that we make very few decisions and our process orientation keeps us moving at snails pace.

Here are 4 decision-making approaches that will help you think through where your team or organization is at currently and what might need to happen (source: The Psychology of Decision Making).

The Rational Approach

This approach operates on the assumption that all members of an organization are working together to achieve one goal and presumes that those involved in decision making have access to all information needed and will engage an orderly, rational process to seek what will ultimately prove to be the best pathway of moving forward.

The Emotional Approach

Although the thinking aspect of decision-making has dominated most of the research for the past 50 years, decision making involves aspects of emotionality such as mood, regret and disappointment, and feelings associated with risk. Emotionality can be a significant, sometimes subconscious factor in decision-making.

The Political Approach

The political approach views organizations as a house of a complex variety of individuals and interest groups. As a result, organizations are seen as having multiple, conflicting goals that make bargaining toward mutual benefit an essential component of this approach.

The Garbage Can Model

Those employing the garbage can model view organizations as inconsistent and in need of someone to sift through the random elements (garbage), identifying problems and answers to the messes of the chaos that exists in organizational life. Proponents of this approach would tell you to embrace the mess, you might just find some treasure buried in all that rubble.

What is your approach to decision-making and what insights have you picked up that have helped engage people in the process?

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