All entries for March 2012

March 29, 2012

Psychometric Assessments & Leadership Styles

Psychometric assessments are widely used by consultancy firms as useful tools to help them identify a customised leadership approach for their clients, keeping in mind that this is just merely an aspect of several applications for those tools in the business environment. However, the most known instrument is MBTI assessment which stands for Myers – Briggs Type Indicator for determining personality types. MBTI is based on over 50 years of research and development traced back to 1943 by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers.

This assessment tool helps people understand themselves well and how they interact with others in their surroundings. It has several applications in many sorts of fields ranging from business to education, counselling and others. In our case, companies and third parties use it to help them identify the strengths and blind spots of people in the top management within an organisation in order to identify the areas of improvements and thereby the best combination of leadership psychological theories to be adopted.

Other instruments are such as FIRO model (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation), CPI (California Psychological Inventory) and TKI (Thomas – Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument) which are also used for leadership and coaching projects.


March 11, 2012

Group Decision Making

Many groups meet to solve problems or achieve a task, on both cases the process involves decision making and the team members have to learn how they can effectively achieve the results. So far as MBE students we have experienced this since the start of the course through working with other class mates on preparing presentations and taking decisions on several mini projects, and the latter project was working on finding the best fit decision for WaveRiders.

Through this task, all team members within the group were participating collectively to reach a decision through analysing the problem or situation, considering and evaluating alternative courses of action, and selecting from among the alternatives a solution or solutions.

However there are pros and cons of this type of decision making as far as I have experienced during our mini projects. First of all, the advantages are combining the strengths and knowledge of its members to likely reach superior problem solution rather than the individual. On the other hand, group decision making are generally slower to arrive decisions than individuals or when some situations at particular times requires a quick solution or taking a quick decision.

As we go and enter the real business world, we are going to experience more of these kinds of decision makings, as we are going to spend most of our time working within teams.


You are what decisions you take!

Decision making is very important in all aspects of our lives whether in business, personal or social life. It is about selecting choices and taking action. One’s life might completely change based on wrong or right selections of choices, or in other words taking the wrong or right decisions might affect his/her life utterly.

The decisions taken in our lives are the causes of what we are today. These decisions were nudged by our friends, family and environment, yet they were not the main cause, but the choices we made during our life are the main reason behind what we became today.

Rarely people are aware about this issue and how decision making is so critical and how it plays a big role in their lives and the choices they make. Successful people are what they are because they selected the right choice and took action accordingly. Some particular things which I have learnt during my life is that successful people believe that whether things go well or not lies in their hands and the choices they make and therefore lies in having good level of decision making skills

In this regard, we have to be conscious about having sufficient information to make decisions but not waiting for obtaining all the information because this is unrealistic, at the same time there is no one correct answer and refusing to act unless they have that answer might be not a wise thing to adopt. Above all, acting and following up on the decision taken is very crucial for making sure that the decision is implemented right and ensuring that the desired results are obtained.


Problem Solving & Decision Making

Is there any distinction between problem solving and decision making? There is quite difference, but we need to know how could we identify these kind of differences to enable us to understand those two key management functions, and what sort of skills associated with each function. I think problem solving is part of decision making process as it involves in looking at the potential cause of the problem and therefore taking a proper action accordingly which is approached by the decision making process. Those two are complementary but not the same functions. Problem solving is based on experience, whereas decision making is more of consideration of what you have learnt from solving this problem.


Waveriders Decision

One of the things I think we missed to talk about in our presentations is to show a step by step process of how we took the decision. In other words, not demonstrating the tools used and the information which was based upon to make the decision, but to show also the decision making as stages to be moved through step by step.

With this in mind, Mintzberg et al (1976) provides a general model of strategic decision process. The model is divided into five stages as shown in the table below:

Stages

Description

Recognition

Identify the problem or an opportunity or maybe a crisis or a threat.

Diagnosis

Examination of current and new information

Sources to define the issue.

Search & Design

Search for ready-made solutions or design a

Custom-made one.

Evaluation

Use of judgement, bargaining and analysis

To choose a solution. This is a multistage

process with a deep investigation

Into the alternatives.

Authorisation

The authorisation of the chosen solution by

Upper management.

Although there might be various models for decision making in relevant literatures, this model might be a good representative of the situation. On the other hand, yes we did go through all stages except for the final one, but we didn’t explain that in a direct way in the presentation which should be done to show the board of directors the rational kind of process that we employed to reach this decision, in addition to the tools and techniques used. A robust decision making is not about the outcome, it is all about the decision process used, therefore, whether the decision was Lymington or Exmouth, or the best mix of advertisement medium, yet the main thing which will differentiate us from others is adopting a clear decision making process and model.

References:

Mintzberg, H., Raisinghani, D., & Theoret, A. (1976). The structure of “unstructured”

decision processes. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21, 246-275.


Training and safe learning environment in the context of decision making in organisations

I have never heard of a company allocating a training budget for their managers to train them on the decision making process and all aspects of decision making.

Managers in organisations at all levels make decisions every day, therefore it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the process of decision making, including being awareness of the type of skills required at various levels to be associated with decision making.

Decision making is part of good business, and good decisions come from precise relevant information and good experience in interpreting these information. Therefore managers could be trained to make better decisions. But this is not enough; the organisation must also provide a safe supporting environment where they will not unfairly criticised for making wrong decisions, in doing so, they must receive proper feedback and support from upper management and colleagues.

Again, we are talking about a supportive learning environment within an organisation which will be so helpful for robust decision making. An atmosphere of fear and negative criticism will hold them back from taking the risk and creativity which might not be in the favour of the business in responding to market changes.

Finally, as Mark Twain said “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.” Is a good supportive statement that there is no harm of making bad decision in organisations but at the same time, proper feedback must be obtained to prevent these kinds of decisions in the future.


March 09, 2012

Myers Briggs Indicator


Myers – Briggs Type Indicator or in other words personality types is considered by most top companies around the world as a good model for personality assessment. They use it for training, recruiting, leadership development, team building, workplace diversity and in many sort of applications, but I did not know that this might in a way or another be related to the decision making process, however thinking back of the decision making process, this is quite true, because in order to understand how people take decisions and why do they select choices, or on what bases did they take that or this decision is merely depending on their type of personality, and the Myers – Briggs is therefore a good tool for helping organisations understand their people and therefore managing their people effectively.

Knowledge of MBTI will definitely help organisations understand how their individuals make decisions based on their personality type. I do not know if anybody of you ever heard about it before, but the MBTI assumes that variation in human behaviour is actually quite normal due to basic differences in the way people prefer to use their perception or judgement. It goes back to Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katharine Briggs. The theory states that there is 16 personality types and each type is well defined so therefore in order to know your Myers- Briggs type of personality you have to take an online test (multiple choice questionnaire) or with a paper conducted by a professional practitioner.

Companies nowadays and traning centers around the world are spreading the word on this theory, and many employees are getting trained on this approach. Again it is well recommended to be employed in any organisation since it proved to be a good tool in many aspects, and one of them is in robust decision making.


March 08, 2012

Ethical Decision Making

Ethics has to do with all our thinking of how we perceive things. We all have images of what an ethical society, an ethical business, or ethical organisations is. With this in mind this will affect our decision making and often our feelings will tell us if it is uncomfortable to take decisions when things are quite unethical or ethically wrong. However, taking ethical decisions requires the ability to make distinction between hard choices, especially when people are under social, economical stress and so on.

Although we make decisions every day, but most of time selecting choices are very hard and difficult especially in stressful situations. But I think the most challenging thing is when ethical concerns arise when we face conflicts in values and interests, those values might differ from society to other and from culture to other, and therefore decisions might differ according to how we perceive things.

All in all, It is our intent to concentrate on the application of ethics in decision making in the business of world today, because this is part of business excellence and the most important component of excellence model, ensuring that the people within the organisation are treated well and fairly in addition to our daily decisions affecting the suppliers, customers and the community.


Bias and Decision Making

Biases and emotions do not exist or separate from ourselves, however they inherently exist in our mind. Biases are based on beliefs and past experience. It exists everywhere in our daily life interactions and decisions made.

In our personal lives, if we start with a preconceived notion that someone we know isn’t a good person, we will actively try to search for evidence to support that. Our decisions will be based on that preconceived thoughts towards that person.

All our decisions are biased to an extent; we might overestimate or underestimate some events, or people and therefore the decisions made concerning those factors are biased in one way or the other and definitely it will distort our decision making. But, on the other hand, it depends on our awareness and comprehensions of how biases affect our decisions and how could we decrease the effects of it on our daily decision making.

As far as I have understood from what we had during last week is what an understanding of biases can do is allow us to design decision making methods, procedures and tools so that biases can be avoided.


March 2012

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