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The Power Of Positive Thinking. Norman Vincent Peale. Kerry Patterson. The Art of Being Brilliant. Andy Cope. Getting Things Done. David Allen. The Good Psychopath's Guide to Success. Andy McNab. Effective executives do not make a great many decisions. They concentrate on what is important. They try to make the few important decisions on the highest level of conceptual understanding. They want to know what the decision is all about and what the underlying realities are which it has to satisfy.

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They want impact rather than technique. And they want to be sound rather than clever. Effective executives know when a decision has to be based on principle and when it should be made pragmatically, on the merits of the case.

How Decision-Making Is Different Between Men And Women And Why It Matters In Business

They know the trickiest decision is that between the right and the wrong compromise, and they have learned to tell one from the other. They know that the most time-consuming step in the process is not making the decision but putting it into effect. Unless a decision has degenerated into work, it is not a decision; it is at best a good intention. This means that, while the effective decision itself is based on the highest level of conceptual understanding, the action commitment should be as close as possible to the capacities of the people who have to carry it out.

Above all, effective executives know that decision making has its own systematic process and its own clearly defined elements. Indeed, every decision is a risk-taking judgment. But unless these elements are the stepping stones of the decision process, the executive will not arrive at a right, and certainly not at an effective, decision. Therefore, in this article I shall describe the sequence of steps involved in the decision-making process. Classifying the problem. Is it generic? Is it exceptional and unique?

Sequential Steps

Or is it the first manifestation of a new genus for which a rule has yet to be developed? Specifying the answer to the problem. What will fully satisfy the specifications before attention is given to the compromises, adaptations, and concessions needed to make the decision acceptable? Building into the decision the action to carry it out.

What does the action commitment have to be? Who has to know about it? Testing the validity and effectiveness of the decision against the actual course of events.

Brilliant Decision Making : What the best decision makers know, do and say

How is the decision being carried out? Are the assumptions on which it is based appropriate or obsolete? The effective decision maker asks: Is this a symptom of a fundamental disorder or a stray event? The generic always has to be answered through a rule, a principle. But the truly exceptional event can only be handled as such and as it comes.

Strictly speaking, the executive might distinguish among four, rather than between two, different types of occurrences. First, there is the truly generic event, of which the individual occurrence is only a symptom. The problem is generic.

Big decisions aren't normal

This is even more likely to be true of occurrences within manufacturing organizations. For example:. A product control and engineering group will typically handle many hundreds of problems in the course of a month. Yet, whenever these are analyzed, the great majority prove to be just symptoms—and manifestations—of underlying basic situations.

The individual process control engineer or production engineer who works in one part of the plant usually cannot see this. Only when the total workload of the group over several months is analyzed does the generic problem appear. Then it is seen that temperatures or pressures have become too great for the existing equipment and that the couplings holding the various lines together need to be redesigned for greater loads.

Until this analysis is done, process control will spend a tremendous amount of time fixing leaks without ever getting control of the situation. The second type of occurrence is the problem which, while a unique event for the individual institution, is actually generic. The company that receives an offer to merge from another, larger one, will never receive such an offer again if it accepts. This is a nonrecurrent situation as far as the individual company, its board of directors, and its management are concerned.

But it is, of course, a generic situation which occurs all the time. Thinking through whether to accept or to reject the offer requires some general rules. For these, however, the executive has to look to the experience of others. The huge power failure that plunged into darkness the whole of Northeastern North America from St.

Lawrence to Washington in November was, according to first explanations, a truly exceptional situation. So was the thalidomide tragedy which led to the birth of so many deformed babies in the early s. The probability of either of these events occurring, we were told, was one in ten million or one in a hundred million, and concatenations of these events were as unlikely ever to recur again as it is unlikely, for instance, for the chair on which I sit to disintegrate into its constituent atoms.

Truly unique events are rare, however. Whenever one appears, the decision maker has to ask: Is this a true exception or only the first manifestation of a new genus? And this—the early manifestation of a new generic problem—is the fourth and last category of events with which the decision process deals. We know now that both the Northeastern power failure and the thalidomide tragedy were only the first occurrences of what, under conditions of modern power technology or of modern pharmacology, are likely to become fairly frequent occurrences unless generic solutions are found.

All events but the truly unique require a generic solution. They require a rule, a policy, or a principle. Once the right principle has been developed, all manifestations of the same generic situation can be handled pragmatically—that is, by adaptation of the rule to the concrete circumstances of the case. Truly unique events, however, must be treated individually. The executive cannot develop rules for the exceptional.

The effective decision maker spends time determining which of the four different situations is happening. The wrong decision will be made if the situation is classified incorrectly. By far the most common mistake of the decision maker is to treat a generic situation as if it were a series of unique events—that is, to be pragmatic when lacking the generic understanding and principle.


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  6. The inevitable result is frustration and futility. This was clearly shown, I think, by the failure of most of the policies, both domestic and foreign, of the Kennedy Administration. For all the brilliance of its members, the Administration achieved fundamentally only one success, and that was in the Cuban missile crisis. Otherwise, it achieved practically nothing.

    Equally common is the mistake of treating a new event as if it were just another example of the old problem to which, therefore, the old rules should be applied:. This was the error that snowballed the local power failure on the New York—Ontario border into the great Northeastern blackout. The power engineers, especially in New York City, applied the right rule for a normal overload. Yet their own instruments had signaled that something quite extraordinary was going on which called for exceptional, rather than standard, countermeasures. By contrast, the one great triumph of President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis rested on acceptance of the challenge to think through an extraordinary, exceptional occurrence.

    As soon as he accepted this, his own tremendous resources of intelligence and courage effectively came into play. Published February 15th by Prentice Hall first published June 15th More Details Other Editions 2. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Brilliant Decision Making , please sign up.

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    Be the first to ask a question about Brilliant Decision Making. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. May 14, Karen Jackson rated it it was amazing. This is, hands down, one of the best and most powerful books I've ever read in my life.