Problem Solving and Decision Making Workshop: A Self Reflection I found the workshop on Problem Solving and Decision Making not just useful but also interesting. When we graduate and find work in organizations as Human Resource (HR) managers, we will be faced with many situations on a daily basis that will require us to make sensible, accurate and fair decisions. It could deciding which person to hire, which supplier to use, or which strategy to pursue, but the ability to make a good decision with available information is vital.
To be able to do this we need to understand the processes of decision-making and how one can try to eliminate bias while doing so. Over the course of the day, I learnt that in order to make good decisions, the ability to reason logically and sift the accurate information from the corporate jargon is very important. When we were taught the various steps involved in decision-making process I realized that sometimes I arrive at a decision without considering some of the options. Being creative was another skill I picked up during one of the exercises. Some of the best solutions come from thinking innovatively.
We were asked to be part of thought showers and come up with different uses of screwdriver, it was amusing to see what a group of 7 girls could come up with. It also showed me how insightful some of these events could be as we came up with ideas I couldn’t possibly think of by myself. Many organizational decisions we will be required to make will never have clear-cut solutions and it is important we think out of the box sometimes. I also picked up different techniques to solve problems like drawing up a matrix to simplify complicated information, fishbone analysis as well as using decision trees that we later applied to the group case study.
The session on ethical decision-making struck a cord with me, as it is probably one of the most challenging tasks of managers today. Ethics can have a different meaning for everybody hence it is even more important to follow some universally acceptable ethical practices while making decisions. As it is rooted in context, there needs to be a good match between personal ethics and organizational ethics for an employee to be satisfied with the job. This principle will definitely help me understand and evaluate the type of companies I want to work with in the future. When I considered what I value most, it is self-respect.
No job can be satisfying if you do not believe in yourself and your abilities. Being ethical and giving the task at hand my best is what constitutes self-respect for me. This is a virtue I would not want to give up and I hope to maintain that even while working in the corporate world. As an area for development, I need to talk less and listen more so I understand the whole situation before I offer an opinion. I recognized that during the case study on ethical decision-making I was quick to judge the solution and that half-baked information can be quite dangerous.
Until Carol handed us the lawyer’s advice none of us had thought of other possible scenarios and we had to revise our plan taking that into consideration. Decision-making is a key skill in the workplace, and is particularly important if you want to be an effective leader . HR managers have a great task of simplifying complex information and deducing facts especially while interviewing and selecting candidates. Even though HR does not take too many strategic decisions, they do have the task of laying out all the information so that people in charge can make better-informed choices.
Sometimes these choices relate to the jobs of people, for example, redundancy decisions or new market expansions. Adair (1999) suggests 5 steps for effective decision making which include defining the objective, collecting relevant information, generating feasible options, making the decisions and also evaluating it (so we know if it was a good or a bad decision). It is therefore very important that decisions are not made intuitively but follow a logical and rational approach like the one mentioned above. According to Jackson (1975) the first step to making decision is problem detection.
Once this is done, identifying the facts and relevant information is crucial to make this process a success. When we reach the stage of selecting the appropriate option, we have another vague problem of rationality. What is “best” to one person may not be to another individual. Rationality also takes into account ethics in decision-making. Not everyone follows the same ethical principles. According to Robbins (2010), there are three ethical decision criteria namely utilitarianism, focus on rights and focus on justice.
These can help solve some of the vagueness associated with the decision making process. In a large organization with multiple stakeholders, assuming that everyone will have the same viewpoint on the issue at hand is unrealistic to expect. David Jennings & Stuart Wattam suggest a soft systems methodology, which stresses on the need to recognize the diversity of values and viewpoints that may occur in a problem situation. In most organization decisions are not made independently, but in groups/teams hence it is very important to follow the above methodology.
Hartnett’s Consensus-Oriented Decision-Making Model is another useful tool when group decisions need to be made based on complex and unclear material. By using the model, everyone gets involved in developing a solution, so that each person feels ownership of the final decision. This can also help build a more productive and committed team. Sometimes group decision making is subject to groupthink and risky shift, which is where groups make more risky decisions than individuals. Being aware of these limitations of group decision making can help HR managers.
As a final point, I understood that most decisions come with a set of organizational constraints and we take shortcuts to reach a conclusion within the set time frame. We usually are biased evaluators and let our perceptions get the better of us. Some common ones Robbins (2010) points out are anchoring bias, overconfidence bias and hindsight bias. As HR people, we are also responsible for many other people in the company and sometimes what we say/decide or forecast can affect the business and the people in many ways.
Hence, it is important to be careful in the decision making process. Personal Developmental Plan * Over these next 10 months, I would want to improve my decision making skills by analysing all possible options before I make a decision. I have a tendency to go with the first solution that arises but after this workshop I realised that the best ideas come after considering all possible opportunities. I think this will really help me once I graduate and start looking for a job. I need to decide what I need from the job and if the organization culture fits with my personality.
For this I need to be more geared to make sensible decisions than just look at the location and pay level. * Apart from the learning’s I take from this workshop, I plan to be part of thought showers with my course mates to understand how different people think and arrive at a conclusion. This will help me not just in the decision making process but will also help me recognize individual difference among cultures, ideas and thought processes. Being in an HR department it is essential to get a feel of what people think and how they evaluate the same information. Watching the TED talks online and listening to the way some companies have used the art of problem solving and decision making to come out of turbulent times is another way I plan to get a more practical insight into these areas. * Attending CIPD member group meeting and reading the website for updates in these fields is something I plan to do on an ongoing bases to keep myself abreast with its implications in the workplace. * For my coursework and case studies, I plan to use the techniques of problem solving that were taught in the workshop.
I believe this will help me analyse questions more accurately and respond in a more logical sequence considering all the information presented. References: Adair, J. (1999). Decision Making and Problem Solving. London: CIPD Bazerman, M. (1998). Judgment in Managerial Decision Making. 4th Edition. Chichester: John Wiley ; Sons. Jennings, D. ; Wattam, S. (1998). Decision Making: An Integrated Approach. 2nd Edition. Harlow: FT Prentice Hall. MindTools (1996) Hartnett’s Consensus-Oriented Decision-Making Model. Available at: http://www. mindtools. com/pages/article/codm. htm (Accessed on: 14th November 2012).