Individuals in the world make decisions every single day of their lives. Decision-making, however, is even more important in the lives of leaders because they are running an organization which relies on their judgment and discretion for such decisions. Decisions have to be made carefully and based on the most accurate and updated information available. Otherwise, the quality of the decision would be affected by whim, suppositions, and assumptions, which might be difficult to quantify and verify.
Because of the understanding of the importance of decision-making in an individual’s and an organization’s life, Maruska and Wheatley (2003) wrote How Great Decisions Get Made. Through their book, they address the different factors affecting the decision-making process—those factors intrinsic to the decision-maker as well as factors that are found in the extrinsic environment. Furthermore, they highlighted the importance of gathering information, no matter how difficult and routine it might seem. In addition to this, the authors proposed ten simple yet comprehensive steps that can help a leader in the decision-making process.
The basic framework that the authors seek to establish is that decision-making should not be made out of fear, where the leaders and the decision-makers feel backed into the corner and that they have little choices left. Rather, they espouse hope-based decision-making no matter how difficult a situation may seem at first. The authors carefully explained the different outcomes and procedures that happen to people who make decisions out of fear as opposed to making them based on hope. In this regard, the case studies offered freely throughout the book are helpful in elucidating the message that the authors were promoting.
The book’s language and layout are simple to follow yet it offers profound insight into an otherwise difficult process. Ten Steps to Making Effective Decisions The first step that the authors posited is the importance of enlisting the help of everyone in the decision making process (Maruska & Wheatley, 2003, p. 36). By doing this, more people would be able to provide inputs on how to make the decision. Moreover, they can provide additional information, which would eliminate fear out of the decision-making equation. Furthermore, by enlisting everyone, the leaders can avoid making enemies in the process.
The second and third steps relate to discovering the shared hopes of everyone concerned and listening to the real issues that have to be addressed. By discovering the hopes and the fears of the people who will be affected by the decision, the perspectives of leaders will become less biased and will be grounded on what the situation really is (p 54). Based on the hopes and fears, it would be necessary to identify the options available for the group (p. 74). These options, however, should be backed up by data and by relevant information that could aid the decision-making process.
Maruska and Wheatley (2003, p. 90) highlighted the importance of right information. The world is teeming with information nowadays, thanks to the Internet. However, not all available information is relevant to the issue being decided upon. As such, by taking into account the hopes and the fears of the stakeholders in the decision-making process, the right information will be identified and they will be helpful in mapping out the solution. The authors further believe that if there is 100% information, there would be zero debates.
The task of the leader therefore would be to gather information and make sure that these pieces of information are indeed relevant. The authors also advised that decision-makers should foresee difficulties along the way and be prepared with alternatives that were not originally planned. But even in these cases, information gathering is still very important as they can steer the decision-makers to the right or wrong decision (p. 118). Conclusion Maruska and Wheatley (2003) were able to describe fully the decision-making process and the importance of gathering the right information.
The case studies that they cited were also helpful in highlighting the importance of this process. For people who are in government whose decisions are crucial to the life and death of individuals, literally, or to CEOs upon whom the life of the organization has been put, How Great Decisions are Made is a great textbook for decision-making. This process is never an easy one. Rather, there are a lot of complications along the way. However, the authors were able to present a simple but not simplified view of the decision-making process and how information can make or break the effectiveness of the decisions made by leaders.
They also highlighted the importance of teamwork and the process of discovering the shared hopes, dreams, and fears of the people serving with the leaders making the decision. After all, leaders are not only deciding for themselves. Rather, they are making decisions on behalf of their subordinates and of all the people who will be affected by the decisions made by these leaders. The presentation of the book is also easy to follow and would be accessible to anyone interested in improving their decision-making skills.