Decision Making – An individual perspective
How often do we find ourselves doubtful in the decisions we take? I, for sure can’t speak for everyone but I feel the lack of conviction in many choices I make. We make decisions on a daily basis. Wait a minute, on an hourly basis. Nope, looks like we do it every moment. You can choose between not reading this article and a zillion other things. I think that’s the scope of decisions our mind allows us to take at any point of time. So let’s break this “decision making” down to some structure which we can understand.
What’s In It For Me?
“How will my current state turn into something better or how will I become happier?” These are the questions which motivate us to do anything. In simple words, the desired result which drives us to do or act.
Action is what we do to achieve the desired outcome
We can do many things but how do we narrow down to that one thing? For instance, we can go to college in many ways but how do we choose on way out?
Knowledge is that which helps us take the right course of action
To know that touching a flame burns the hand helps you take a decision not to. That’s the knowledge from past. You can also learn and gain insights from knowledge and experiences of others.
Putting it all together, Knowledge is which helps you select a course of Action to attain an Outcome.
Decision making is effective when all these three are well defined.
Let’s now think of how often do we think so much before we do something. That’s right! We don’t think of it so often, because we break the decision making subconsciously into these three parts. Then why bother read this article when we do it anyway?
All along, we have been discussing decision making in an individual context. Now let’s go ahead and bring a business context to this and solve a business problem using the same decision making structure. If not solve, let’s see how we can go about solving the problem.
Business Problem :
A leading online store wants to increase their Diwali sales by offering various deals to customers. Help them come up with deals which increase their sales and thereby profitability.
Let’s think this through using our decision making tool.
Outcome is that the online store wants to make profits by increasing sales.
Action is to introduce deals during Diwali to attain outcome.
Knowledge is that which helps you, the decision maker, arrive at a course of action which is in best interest of the desired outcome. This is a tricky zone. It’s filled with questions which need answers. Which is that product which is bought the most? Which is that product which is bought the most along with the product which is bought the most? You can think of a thousand such questions which need answers and yet the list cannot get exhausted. And so it goes with knowledge I suppose. You can never learn enough.
However, this part where we need answers to questions, to arrive at a course of action is when we look into the company’s (online store) past and the experiences of others (competitors of the online store). This helps in a decision making which is free of prejudice and ignorance. In a world where multi national corporations need to solve business problems with crores of rupees at stake, there is a high intolerance for ignorant and prejudiced decisions (business solutions or actions).
To delve deep into the finding answers for the questions is a job of a data scientist. To delve deep into asking the right questions is the job of a curious mind. To delve deep enough in both asking and answering is the job of a decision maker.
In my opinion, to be able to make every individualistic decision in a non ignorant way should be the objective of mankind. Perspectives change, problems change. But the approach of problem solving remains same in its abstract sense.