Decision making is a meticulously outlined process that involves goal setting, gathering sufficient information and planning the execution plan. Decision making techniques call for assessment and weighing of the available options to choose the most effective one to implement.
Typically, the process involves the following steps:
First step – Identify the decision to be made: clearly define the nature of the decision to be made.
Second step – Gather relevant information: identify the information types that will be instrumental to your actions after making the decision.
Third step – Identify alternatives: make sure you put in place fall back plans in case the plan you intend to implement backfires.
Fourth step – Weigh evidence: think every option through to the end and visualize the possible outcomes, point out the most favorite one to implement and score them in the order of favorites.
Fifth step – Choose among alternatives: you have weighed the evidence and scored the favorites. Pick up the one that appeals most to you.
Sixth step – Take action: it is now time to start implementing the option you picked.
Seventh step – Review decision and consequences: this is the time to know if you really made the right choice and make the necessary adjustments to your implementation plan to make it work for you.
To better understand the various decision making techniques you can adopt whenever you have to make a decision, let us consider this question:
Critically examine the four decision-making techniques, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and rank them by order of preference.
Listed by order of preference, these are the four decision-making techniques with their advantages and disadvantages.
Nominal Group decision making techniques (NGT)
This technique is quite useful among large groups that want to make decision quickly (e.g. by use of vote) but want to consider everyone’s opinion. They consolidate, analyze and vote upon/for individual ideas.
- Facilitates participation of all members, especially in groups where some members are more vocal than others.
- Some people generate ideas better when they are silent
- The technique facilitates generation of many ideas
- It is best used when deliberating upon controversial issues that may result into intense arguments
- Applicable in situations of power imbalance between the facilitators and the participants
- Best used in instances where the facilitators are after qualitative output
- The actual process saves time in most cases
- Lacks flexibility; dealing with one problem at a given time
- There must be a certain amount of conformity on part of the members involved
- Preparation for the actual process needs time
Brainstorming decision making techniques
This is a group creativity technique by which the members exert efforts to find a solution to a particular problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members.
- Encourages creativity
- Generates large number of ideas in one sitting
- Involvement of all members of the team fosters team spirit
- Encourages a sense of ownership
- Provides input to other tools, i.e. many ideas can be refined to specific ideas for easy implementation.
- Time consuming since many people have to compare their ideas
- Possibility of dominance where some members are politically/socially more powerful than their colleagues. An aggressive speaker may also overshadow other group members.
- Problematic where the technique to be used has to be discussed.
Delphi decision making techniques
This is a modified Nominal Group Technique. It involves the use of experts in a panel. The panelists are total strangers to one another and do not sit in the same room.
They fill out questionnaires, which the moderators will later review at a central point. The experts then get the reviewed list to finalize and develop another questionnaire in case they develop new ideas.
- Avails expert opinion
- Re-evaluation of personal information provided in the questionnaires gives room for improvement
- Good method of generating long-term solutions to recurrent problems and complex situations
- Time consuming
- Expensive to hire the experts for the panel
- Possibility of dominance by prominent personalities in discussion and decision-making
- High variability in participant behavior and group social behavior
- The discussion may go off tangent (i.e. the panelists may go off the topic in their contributions)
Didactic decision making techniques
This technique is applied only where the conclusion definitely results into a Yes/No situation. This therefore, requires extensive and exhaustive discussions including elaborate investigations since a wrong decision can have serious consequences.
Theere are two groups of panelists; one group analyzes the pros while the other the cons. They then interchange ant critique themselves and their counterparts
- Interchange of ideas will result into a mutual acceptance of the facts as they are
- Provides a room for examination of flaws of other group’s objectives
- Facilitates generation of many ideas
- Time consuming
- No argumentative observations since answers remain Yes/No
- Expensive since it involves extensive and elaborate discussions and investigations