Decision making is the process of identifying and selecting a course of action to deal with a specific problem, or to make use of an opportunity (Bouyssou, 2010). The decision is a choice made from alternatives. Since long time ago, human behavior was thought as irrational, even not quasi-rational. In this sense, the decision making process may be affected by passion, emotion and bias. However, there are some routine processes we can follow when making a decision so as to manage to make a right and wise decision while avoiding the bias.
This report is totally based on an actual experience-a mobile dilemma, in which my friend and I was deciding which mobile to buy, Iphone 4S or I9300. It will not be in too deep into the discussion of applications but rather the processes and some critical issues that would come up during a decision making process.
Altogether four parts will be included in this report, introduction, main body, conclusion and references. What’s more, two topics are going to be discussed in the main body part.
一、Decision Making Process-main factors that influence the decision making process
Many people tend to view decision making as an event, or a choice that is to be made at a single point in time (Hardman, 2009). In reality, however, important decisions are seldom made after one single meeting by one single person in one single moment. Significant decisions requires time and input and sources of information from many sides. People recognizing decision making as a process and being aware of the detailed steps increase their likelihood of making more effective decisions.
Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychological systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environment. People communicate or react with each other in this way of dynamic organization. It is people’s personality that makes people similar to or different from each other, along with the psychological processes behind those characteristics. Personality theories assume that people’s personalities are revealed consistently in their behaviors over time. Personality traits has the “big 5”, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, and extroversion. But from a decision making perspective, the high range “conscientious” would like to be very clear about the decisions and resisting to changes. Therefore, they are not likely to take a lot of risks. Low range “agreeableness” is sometimes indifferent and disagreeable about making decisions. Low range “emotional stability” are hyper vigilant but are very easily affected by stress. A little different from the first type, high range “open to experience” like changes and being unclear about decisions. Similarly, high range “extroversion” is more impulsive, they are labeled as being risk taking. In this case, I think my team and I, we all belong to the high range “conscientious”. #p#分页标题#e#
A group is an important part in studying the impact of sociology on the decision making process. The group is defined as any number of people who interact with one another and are psychologically aware of one another while meantime perceiving themselves to be a group. A lot of characteristics are necessary for an effective group. In this essay, we will mainly consider a few, such as cohesion, group roles, norms, conformity, and interaction. Cohesion is the process of pulling the group together towards a concerted effort for a same goal. High degrees of cohesiveness can be actively dysfunctional and guide the thinking process of the group. Besides, successful groups require members to adopt different roles. Norms are the set of assumptions or expectations concerning what are right or wrong, good or bad. They can help reduce uncertainty and the need to renegotiate understandings. Conformity is the phenomenon whereby individuals feel they have consensus on their goal and feel themselves being part of the team. Group interaction is of vital importance, since both communication of the making or carrying out of the decision is realized through effective group interaction. The decision making process can be broken into three distinct phases:
Phase one: Build up your team. This is a stage in which you set the parameters for the decision making process and decide upon the persons involved and ways of operation among the team.
1. Identify the Problem and Decision Criteria
Sometimes, a problem is not that obvious. So you must be very careful in identifying it. Besides, the process should be very subjective (Verma, 2009), since what is a problem to one individual may not be a problem to another. Accordingly, you shall carefully select the participants and decide on the way to pull them together. In addition, you must determine what are relevant in making a decision. Such criteria may be cost, usage, time validity etc.
2. Recognizing Obstacles
Certain individual bias and group dynamics can be obstacles in the decision making process, which we are going to talk about later in this report. By predicting and recognizing these obstacles, you can take steps to avoid them.
Phase two: Assess the situation and choose a course of action. Once you have identified the problem, you are ready to manage the decision making process.
1. Develop A Range of Creative Alternatives-personalities matter
After identifying the problems and obstacles, you are to develop alternatives, for there are various choices you can make owing to today’s big market. Alternatives can help provide a range of choices you will need to make an informed decision. Here, brainstorm ways can be taken to identify some opportunities and problems, which requires you and your team to be creative and think beyond the obvious. Besides, doing nothing is always an alternative to be considered. To encourage productive dialogue seems to be another useful way, because creative collaboration will fail if team members don’t offer their ideas freely (Walter, 2010). So when you encourage team participation, facilitate creative conflict, and listen to ideas, you are likely to generate a full slate of options that will serve you well as you enter the next stage: analyze the alternatives. But worthy of mentioning is that personalities matter a lot in this alternatives developing process. People would naturally tend to choose what agrees to their personalities. #p#分页标题#e#
2. Analyze the Alternatives
The alternatives should state the results or consequences of each solution and the risks and their impact on the individual or group thus bringing you closer to your objectives. Four criteria can be applied when deciding which alternative is the best. First, evaluate the risk to the expected results. Second, take into account the amount of effort required. Third, have some ideas of whether fast or slow changes are desirable. Fourth, keep in mind the availability of resources. Here, you assess the feasibility, risk and ethical implications of each possible choice and the alternative selected must be the one which performs the best against the selection criteria and has the amount of risk that is acceptable (Nutt & Wilson, 2010).
Phase three: communicate and implement the decision
1. Communicate the Decision
After you select the alternative, you must consider carefully how implementation will affect people and their functions. An effective way to gain support in implementation is to involve the people affected in the decision making process. And generally speaking, the success of implementation depends to a large degree on your communication skills and sensitivity about people’s reaction to change. So it is very important to decide who should be notified of your decision and communicate it effectively.
In communicating the decision, you should keep in mind the following principles:
2. Implement the Decision
You need to decide in this step what tasks will be required to put the decision into action, assign resources, and establish deadlines.
Phase four: evaluate the results and provide feedback1. Evaluate the Results
You have to see whether the results meet expectations and whether you have the need to make any changes towards improving the decisions or its implementation. But it is important to give the decision enough time to work before you do that.
2. Provide Feedback
Decision making process does not end with evaluating the results but rather with the feedback. After evaluating the results, proper feedback is necessary not only for future improvement but also for recognition of teamwork.
二、Barriers to Effective Decision Making
We can follow some routine steps in order to make the decision making process more effective. However, decision making is usually made difficult by some common, often unconscious, obstacles that frequently inhibit a decision maker’s ability to determine the optimal choice. Such obstacles include decision making conditions, decision making biases and errors. While it is almost impossible to eliminate these obstacles, recognizing them in yourself and in the members of your group will help to make more objective decisions.
1. Decision Making Conditions
This is a very common situation in which you are able to estimate the likelihood of certain outcomes. #p#分页标题#e#
This is a situation in which you have neither certainty nor reasonable probability estimates available (Abdellaou & Hey, 2008).
2. Decision Making Biases
(1). Bias toward the Familiar and Toward Past Successes.
People tend to base their decisions on events and information that are familiar to them and on products that have been enjoying success. There is a very typical example in which a manager remembers her launch of a product in Spain many years ago, which was her first big marketing success (Baron, 2008). Then when she wanted to capture more markets, she adopted almost the same strategy in other countries, most of which are failures. The point was, while the strategy used in Spain mat have been a good starting point, she emphasized too much on this experience and discounted the evidence of unsuccessful launches elsewhere. Thus the reliance on prior success led to failures in other markets. Similar incidence also happened to me when my friends and I were thinking about the purchase of new mobiles. We all relied too much on people’s remarks on the products and their brands while taking little into consideration what we really needed at that time.
(2). Bias Toward Accepting Assumptions at Face Value
To have confidence in oneself in a good thing on one hand, on the other hand, however, people are sometimes overconfident in their assumptions and therefore generate too few alternatives. For example when we are buying the mobiles from one or two of the biggest brands without collecting competitive bids, we are assuming that because the every body is buying the biggest brands and they work for every body, they will work for us. Thus we fail to investigate other brands that might better meet our needs.
(3). Bias toward Confirming Our Opinion
Once an opinion is formed, people tend to seek out information that would support their opinion while ignoring the facts that may challenge it. This is common among most people, because they are not equipped with the ability to think from the many perspectives or they only want to stick to their opinions and are ready for no changes (Rodgers, 2008). This is very obvious when we are choosing our targeted mobiles. After we selected the two brands we were going to buy, we search on the internet some of the relating information, during which process we only wanted to check the information supporting our preference and satisfy our needs while never stopped to read any data or remarks that were against our selections. 3. Decision Making Errors
(1). Immediate Gratification
When people first get to know something about the particular product they want, especially something that is positive towards it, they will feel satisfied, which is called the immediate gratification (Marrelli & Pignataro, 2009). Immediate gratification may make the decision makers not so rational in making decisions thus should be avoided (Drummond, 2012). #p#分页标题#e#
(2). Sunk Costs
Sunk costs refer to the costs you sacrifice in order to get another item or thing. For example, when you can buy a desk with 20, while you bought a table for 25 instead, then the 20 is your sunk cost. People always neglect this point when they are in the position to make decisions, especially when they are so satisfied with one product as to be irrational in making an informed selection.
The decision making process is really a complex and tough one, in which a series of action are taken and many biases and errors are evaluated. Bu discussing these issues in the report, I know better about myself and how to make decisions and how to manage my group. This is of critical importance.
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