Meaning, Definition, Characteristics, Difference of Decision Making

 Table of Contents:-

Decision Making Meaning

Decision making may be viewed as the process of selecting a course of action from among several alternatives to accomplish the desired result. The objective of decision-making is to direct human behaviour and commitment towards a future goal. It involves committing the organisation and its resources to a certain choice of course of action thought to be sufficient and capable of achieving some predetermined objective.

Decision Making Definition

According to George R. Terry, “Decision-making is the selection based on certain criteria from two or more alternatives”.

According to Mary Cushing Niles, “Decision-making takes place in adopting the objectives and choosing the means and again when a change in the situation creates a necessity for adjustments”.

According to Heinz Weihrich and Harold Koontz, “Decision-making is defined as the selection of a course of action among alternatives; it is the care of planning”.

Managers at all levels in the organisation make decisions and solve problems. In fact, decision-making is the process of lessening the gap between the existing and the desired situation through solving problems and making use of opportunities. A decision is a conclusion reached after consideration; it occurs when one option is selected, and to the exclusion of others it is the rendering of judgment.

Characteristics of Decision Making

Characteristics of decision-making can be of the following types:

1) Process of Selecting Courses of Action: Decision-making is a process of selection or choice among alternative courses of action. The need for decision-making occurs only when more than one alternative exists for doing the work. 

2) Finds the Best Possible Action: The aim of decision-making is to find out the best possible course of action. It is a rational and purposeful activity designed to attain well-defined purposes. Decisions relate means to ends. To identify the best alternative, it is vital to evaluate all available alternatives. As decision-making is always intentional, there may just be a decision not to decide.

3) Intellectual or Rational Process: Decision-making is an intellectual or rational process. As a mental exercise, it involves considerable deliberation and thoughtful consideration of different factors influencing the choice. It is the end process preceded by reasoning and judgement.

4) Involves Certain Commitment: Decision-making involves a certain commitment. A decision results in the commitment of resources and the reputation of the organisation. This commitment may be short-term or long-term depending upon the decision type. Decision-making involves a time dimension and time lags.

5) Related to Situation or Environment: Decision-making is always related to the situation or the environment. A manager may take one decision in a particular situation and an opposite decision in a different situation. In some cases, there may just be a decision not to decide.

6) Pervasive Function: Decision-making is a pervasive function of management. This function is performed by managers at all levels as the nature of decisions may differ from one level to another. Decision-making is a continuous process.

7) Human and Social Process: Decision-making is a human and social process. It involves the use not simply of intellectual abilities but also of intuition, subjective values and judgement. It is not a purely intellectual process. Perception and human judgement are indispensable and no technique can replace them. But knowledge and experience also provide the basis for correct decisions.

8) Freedom to Choose among Alternative Courses of Action: The choice in decision-making implies the freedom to choose from among alternative courses of action without coercion. It also means uncertainty about the final outcome. When there is no choice of action, no decision is essential. The need for making any decision occurs only when some uncertainty as to the outcome exists.

Difference between Problem Solving and Decision Making

Problem solving is a mental process and is part of the bigger problem process that includes problem-finding & problem-shaping. Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as a higher-order cognitive process that needs the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills. Problem-solving happens when an organism or an artificial intelligence system needs to move from a given state to the desired goal state.

Every problem indeed requires a decision. Decision making helps the organisation to face and tackle new challenges and problems. Fast and correct decisions help to solve problems and to accept new challenges.

Problem solving and decision making are necessary skills for business and life. Problem solving often involves decision-making and decision-making is generally important for management and leadership. There are processes and methods to improve decision-making and the quality of decisions. Decision making is more natural to certain personalities, so these individuals should focus more on improving the quality of their decisions. People that are less natural decision-makers are usually able to make quality assessments but then need to be more decisive in acting upon the assessments made. Problem-solving and decision-making are closely linked, and each demands creativity in identifying and developing possibilities.

Decision Making and Problem Solving are two significant key management functions. It is customary to see the managers of firms get involved in decision making and problem-solving. Problem solving involves defining the problem. The problem is defined by asking a few questions such as “What causes you to think there is a problem?” and “How is it happening?”

Consideration of the condition characterised by the absence of the problem is the crux of decision making. In other words, if you begin to think about what will the case look like when the problem is solved then you are into decision-making. Hence, decision making and problem solving are almost integrated.