The chapter on "Decision Making, Learning, Creativity and Entrepreneurship" in Jones and George's Essentials of Contemporary Management focuses on managerial decision making. If you are not currently a manager, it may be difficult to find a suitable example within the ambit of your own experience. However, you can use decisions made by a committee of which you are a member. Some good examples of difficult decisions at work include finding where to cut spending in a budget, choosing whom to hire or promote, or deciding when and where layoffs might be made.
Take the example of deciding which of several good candidates to hire. This could be the decision of an individual manager or a committee. Theoretically, the decision could be programmed (a routine decision for which there are well-established guidelines) or non-programmed (the opposite, a non-routine decision). If the decision is programmed then it is, axiomatically, not very difficult, since the selection criteria are clear. If the position is a new one and there are no pre-established specifications, then it will be a non-programmed decision, accompanied by risk and uncertainty.
The resumes of the candidates may have been ambiguous, or they could conflict with other information, particularly that contained in references. In addition to this, there will clearly be time constraints in any appointment, and these may be complicated if the candidate is currently employed elsewhere. The six steps outlined in the chapter would have taken place in something like the following way:
- Recognize the need for a decision: Identify the job to be done and advertise for candidates.
- Generate alternatives: Gather applications.
- Assess the alternatives: Work out which applications are worth pursuing.
- Choose among alternatives: Select a candidate.
- Implement the chosen alternative: Make arrangements for the chosen candidate to be employed.
- Learn from feedback: Conduct a review at the end of the candidate's probation period (usually three months or six months).