About Decision Making

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Decision making is the process of gathering and assessing options and then committing to one or more options. A decision-making body may be one person, two people or, as in the case of a democratic vote for President, hundreds of millions of people. The decision maker is vested with the authority to make the decision by another individual or societal agent of authority.

  1. Function

    • Decision making gets things done. It enables changes to happen, projects to get done, actions to be taken. Decision making terminates what can be a long and seemingly endless process of deliberating. It might also effectively vest whoever helped make the decision in the results of that decision.


    • Decision making can take many forms. An individual may make a decision on her own. Consensus decision making occurs when a group makes a decision that is unanimous or nearly unanimous. Majority rule decides based on a vote. Business decision mapping is a formal way of making decisions. How a decision is made depends on many factors, including the circumstances of the problem, who is affected by the decision, who is doing the deciding and how the decision is to be used.

    Time Frame

    • Decision making may occur nearly instantaneously when action is called for very quickly. Or, when decision makers must take into account a complex and far-reaching array of factors, decision making may occur over a long period of time, perhaps years. Usually, however, the act of decision making involves steps taken over a relatively short period of time.


    • Several steps are involved in the arriving at a decision. A decision-making body first gathers data to help weigh all the relevant factors. This gathering of data may be an informal acknowledgment of the problem and a spontaneous brainstorming of options, or a formal examination of pages of quantitative projections following months of research. At every step of the decision-making process, smaller decisions are made. These may include deciding who is to make the decision, deciding the procedure whereby the decision will be made, deciding what criteria the decision will be based on and deciding what the main choices are to be decided upon. Quite often decision makers are unaware of taking such steps, as many of the steps typically happen subconsciously.


    • While in the ideal scenario, a decision is arrived at entirely rationally, taking into account all the necessary factors and anticipating the inevitable results, no decision-making process is that perfect. Emotions, insufficient data, faulty projections, time constraints and other complicating factors more often than not result in decisions that are not self-evident and could go either way. Human subjectivity plays a big role in decision making; people often arrive at decisions based on spurious, self-interested, irrational and impulsive factors.


    • Even an entirely rational approach to decision making has its flaws; it presupposes the existence of a universally correct decision, and sometimes life just isn't like that. All in all, decision making is an imperfect process, and nobody can ever say for sure whether or not a decision was a good one or bad one, even in hindsight.

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