All entries for Monday 11 March 2013

March 11, 2013

Critical Thinking and RDM

Having studied Critical Thinking at AS Level, I was already familiar with some of the key terms associated with RDM. It was great to come across those terms again, such as cognitive functioning, judgement heuristics, generalization, reliability, and some fallacies pertaining to flawed judgements, etc, as I was instantly able to recognise them. The significance of developing critical thinking skills in reference to robust decision making cannot be reitterated enough. Living in an increasingly dynamic and evolving world, we are constantly faced with pressure and complex situations, and our ability to make wise and robust decisions at the right time would be the cutting edge for our survival and success in this competitive global corporate environment.

Non–judgemental or indecisive?!

Taking the Judgement Quiz in the first week of RDM was not only a fun task, but also an eye-opener. It was interesting to realise how much we take common sense for granted, and even more important than that was having a reality check with regards to how poor our judgement skills are. General matters related to everyday life required a more systematic and thought processing approach than we had initially anticipated. I was a little apprehensive and perplexed at first to have most of my answers wrong, but it all made a lot more sense when we were introduced to the different tools and techniques for robust decision making. The fact that this module pertained to real life situations which all of us face at some point or the other made this module quite interactive and insightful. These tools and techniques are applicable to our real life situations, and I believe that this module has directed me towards the right strategies to employ in order to reach better and robust decisions, if not overwhelmingly improve my judgement skills. Rest assured, I feel more prepared to deal with and solve complex situations now where I have to choose between different alteranatives that are surrounded by uncertainties.

A Robust Decision

The development of a robust decision can be quite challenging. A robust decision is the best possible solution to when one has the option of alternative decisions. A robust decision does not have to be an infallible decision; it has a degree of risks, but it is probably more satisfactory and feasible than other alternatives. It is integral to address decision making problems with immediate action. Our decisions are contingent on our experiences from similar situations from the past, an analysis of our current situation and a certain degree of hindsight. The robustness of the decision, along with the associated risks with that decision are only as robust, or as good as the assumptions on which they are dependent. As a matter of fact, all assumptions and estimations rest on a probability of uncertainty. Whilst uncertainty cannot be eradicated from a given situation, it can be managed using a wide array of different robust decision making tools and techniques in order to reach a decision as robust as possible.

Robust Decision Making

One of the most highly used decision making processes, robust decision making has taken the lime light for me. There are three reasons for the same:

1. Use of probabilities: The use of probabilities enables one to give a level of certainty to the outcome of an event. This allows one to also use the concept of 'expected' payoffs which help compare and contrast two projects.

2.' Robust'ness: Robust decision making is wholesome, encompassing all the elements of a problem and then comes up with the best solution. One can consider it an economic 'best response' to maximize profits given the economic environment which the firm faces.

3. Factual Ease: By providing facts and figures RDM makes it possible for one to present an argument in an all conclusive way rather than stating vague theories or just mere words. This type of decision making results in a solution that is based on the concept of rationality and the solution has little chance of being counter-argued over.

Marketing aspect

For me, the most fascinating part of the presentation was the marketing aspect of it. It was interesting to see the ideas coming forth from different groups. In the current economic pressures, the need for innovative ideas is becoming increasingly important now. Novel ideas, which were NOT mentioned in the case study emerged such as flyers, astroturfing, tissue pack, celebrity endorsements, and exhibitions.

It was also exciting to note what weightages individual groups had assigned to the factors regarding the marketing medium. Some preferred ROI while others thought product recall had more value. This revealed that different groups had a different decision making process which eventually paved way for distinct decisions. It will be thought-provoking to note how things shape out once I start researching for my PMA; one thing I am sure about though is that the decisions we made during the entire in module work are going to be challenged. Time to reflect!

Grid Analysis

One of the most interesting tools we used was Grid Analysis. It gave us the option to list down all the pertinent factors against the options and weigh them accordingly. However, we debated over the assigning weightages to the factors for the marketing mediums. We were also not sure what data to use to support Grid Analysis.

The thing that struck me about Grid Analysis and other analytical tools was that the decisions I made earlier were in quite a sharp contrast to the results that came out after using the tools. Most importantly, these results did make sense. Interestingly, using logical tools and applying critical thinking is imperative and can help us to make robust decisions.

Using SWOT analysis constructively

Up until this RDM module, creating and using SWOT analysis has been a pretty much uncomplicated thing for me. For me, SWOT was predominantly a tool to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. However, after watching the short video shown in class and implementing it during the in module work, several facets of SWOT emerged. It gives you an overview and should be constructed in such a manner so as to help in decide the overall strategy. It should help you DECIDE.

Strengths and weakness refer to internal factors while opportunities and threats refer to internal and external BOTH. I believe brainstorming before listing down the relevant factors is essential. This would help in team building, communication, and getting out ideas on to the board. SWOT analysis certainly comes forth as being clear, simple, and timely. However, the important thing here is to consider all the relevant metrics and factors; prioritizing and improving bottom line should be the eventual objective over here.

March 2013

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