A model for taking decisions

Decision making involves a number of stages:

Clarify the problem. To start with you need to be clear about why you are taking the decision – and whether it is a decision that your team needs to make. Above all, check that everyone affected shares the same view of what the problem is.

Diane, team leader in a local building society branch, became aware that lunchtime queues to see cashiers might be too long.

Obtain information. You need to make sure you have the information that will help you solve the problem. People in the team who are good at investigating and making connections (see the previous section) can be good at this.

Diane and her team monitored queuing times for a week. They also talked to customers.
Create options. It’s often a big mistake for teams to choose the first possible solution. You need to be able to come up with more than one option before you decide. There are some suggestions for doing this later in the section.

Diane and her team brainstormed possible options. These included:

• employing an extra cashier for an hour each lunchtime
• changing the timings of staff lunch breaks
• changing the queuing system to one queue for all cashiers.
Many teams use a flip chart to record their decision-making process as it proceeds so everyone is clear where the team’s thinking has reached.
Select criteria. You also need objective criteria that you can apply to each option to decide which is best.

Diane’s team decided on a number of criteria:

• no customer should queue for more than four minutes
• it should be obvious that the queuing system is fair
• the solution should not add to overall branch staff costs.

Make the decision. You then apply the criteria to each option. You can do this by asking how many criteria each option meets – or you could give scores for each option.
Diane’s team found that changing the timing of staff lunch breaks satisfied the most criteria. They also decided to review the queuing system once the change had been made.
Implement and monitor the solution. Finally, you have to put your preferred option into practice – and check that it works.

Diane found that the solution did reduce queuing most of the time. However, occasionally there were longer queues, and these were tackled by changing the queuing system.
Now do this

Think of a problem you face. Use the model to tackle it.
Clarify the problem    
Obtain information 
Create options 
Select criteria 
Make the decision    
plan to implement and monitor the solution 

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