Friday, February 19, 2010

Decisions, decisions: Expert sheds light on how to make better choices

By Christina Hernandez

Decisions, decisions. It can be tough to make the right one, especially under pressure.

Michael Roberto, a professor of management at Bryant University, focuses his research on strategic decision-making processes. We spoke recently about his decision-making tips — and why sometimes the best choices defy all the rules.

What’s your advice for steering clear of common mistakes in decision making?

I call it “deciding how to decide.” Rather than just diving in to solve a problem, the leader needs to step back, look at the landscape and say, “Who do I really need around the table? What kind of climate do I want to create? What kind of ground rules do I want to have for how we’re going to interact? Am I going to use some techniques to force divergent thinking on the group?” Thinking about how we’re going to decide is really important.

One example is how John F. Kennedy led during the Cuban Missile Crisis. They learned from the Bay of Pigs, where he made a terrible decision early in his administration. It was a classic example of “groupthink” because the group did not canvas a wide range of options as to how to deal with Cuba. In the missile crisis, by contrast, they used some great techniques. They broke into sub-groups to look at two different options and then they debated one another. They had someone playing the role of devil’s advocate to critique ideas. That really raised the quality of the decision making that was going on in the room.

Read more at the link above.


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