Friday, January 1, 2010

The Decision Makers

This is the title of Robert Heller's book which I found to be ponderous and confusing. The takeaway I got from this is that not all decision makers are right all the time (Duh!). Examples are Akio Morita's decision to go with the Walkman (success) and Betamax (failure). If he had kept the stories to a narrative instead of trying to reduce them to case studies it would have been a more interesting book. Instead it is just downright confusing. I would not be surprised if he is now a management consultant. As the book stands I could barely read it much less skim it.

The best part of the book turned out to be the beginning:

pg 26:
The basic question is: What kind of decision am I considering? With that answer in hand, at least fifteen other questions follow:
1. What decisions am I, consciously or unconsciously, not taking that I ought to take?
2. (Very Important) What is the question that this decision will answer?
3. How many realistic alternatives are there as an answer to the question?
4. Does this decision have to be taken at all?
5. If it is not taken, what consequences will follow?
6. What objective is the decision intended to achieve?
7. What results if that aim is not achieved?
8. What is the perfect infrmation that will enable the decision to be taken in near perfectness?
9. How near can I et to that perfect information?
10. Is the degree of imperfection so great as to undermine the basis for rational decision?
11. How is the decision to be executed? By whom? Monitored in what way and against what criteria?
12.What can go wrong?
13. In the event that Murphy's Law operates, and what can go wrong does, what will be the response?
14. What can go too well?
15. If the results of this decision flow broadly to plan what further decisions will have to be taken - and when?

pg. 45

1. Involve all relevant people from the start.
2. Have a single, fully-worked-out objective in view - aim to kill one bird with many stones, not two birds with one.
3. Having obtained thebest possible information and counsel in concert, act on it in concert.
4. Be governed by what you rather than what you fear.
5. Embody the decisions in a comprehensive plan that everybody knows and that wil cover the expected consequences of setback or success.
6. Entrust execution to competent people with no conflicting responsibilities.
7. Leave operational people to operate.
8. In the event of serious failure, start again to review and renew the decisions.
9. Only abandon the decision when it is plain to all that is objective cannot be achieved.

These rules more or less end each chapter (there are 8 chapters in all) yet as I went along these rules are sometimes consistent across the book and depends on the situation the decision maker finds himself to be in - e.g. is this an expansion, a salvation, an innovation, an attempt to outcompete, etc. While these can be useful rules of thumb they seem

No comments: