Decision making is an essential and strategic function in any organization. While organizations purport to make rational and objective decisions, particularly regarding strategic investments, this is rarely the case. Executive teams—and individual decision makers—are subject to group and individual biases, limits on what they can pay attention to and rules of thumb that strongly influence how choices are evaluated and decision are made. Many of these influences lie outside of the conscious awareness of the individual and the group.
Executives and managers are confronted with decisions daily, small and large. With time and expertise, through experience and consequences, decision makers gain comfort with decisions that fall within normal routines, and responding to consequences as the results of those decisions play out. Large, complex, unique and out-of-the-ordinary decisions represent a very different challenge, however. The stakes are higher with these decisions, and the uncertainties and ambiguities are often greater.
A recent workshop with a major oil firm highlighted the challenge of making effective decisions. The executive team was presented with a scenario and asked to choose one of two options. They were then given another scenario, which changed how the choices were described but kept the options identical. This time they overwhelmingly preferred the other alternative. Our decisions are biased simply by how options are presented to us. The executives were astonished that they choices they make could be manipulated that easily.
Interthink Consulting has developed a unique method of facilitating decision making of complex, strategically important business problems. Particularly effective in exploring ambiguous and uncertain outcomes, our approach is designed to fully explore the problem, the range of possible solutions and the certainties and uncertainties associated with each. Our approach also consciously addresses and explores the biases, influences and political drivers that underlie decision problems. The result is a process that clearly identifies both the objective and subjective influences associated with a decision, providing executive teams with clarity regarding the conclusions they are drawing and why the are making them.