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matrix vision newsletter
Decision Making Issue
March, 2010 - Vol 3, Issue 3
In This Issue
Making Decisions?
Values and Decision Making
Decision Making Steps
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Story of the Month

A party of suppliers was being given a tour of a mental hospital.


One of the visitors had made some very insulting remarks about the patients.


After the tour the visitors were introduced to various members of staff in the canteen.


The rude visitor chatted to one of the security staff, Bill, a kindly and wise ex-policeman.


"Are they all raving loonies in here then?" said the rude man.


"Only the ones who fail the test," said Bill.


"What's the test?" said the man.


"Well, we show them a bath full of water, a bucket, a jug and an egg-cup, and we ask them what's the quickest way to empty the bath," said Bill.


"Oh I see, simple - the normal ones know it's the bucket, right?"


"No actually," said Bill, "The normal ones say pull out the plug. Should I check when there's a bed free for you?"


Decision Quotes
"Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide."
Napoleon Bonaparte
" It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.
Roy Disney
"Successful leaders have the courage to take action while others hesitate.
John C Maxwell
"It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide on what to do.
Elbert Hubbard

 "A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
Chinese Proverb

"It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
J. K. Rowlings
"Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking."
Malcolm Gladwell

"It is much more pleasant to make the decision than to justify it."
Malcolm Forbes

Welcome to the matrix vision newsletter for March.  This month's newsletter is focussed on Decision Making.    
This newsletter presents some tips and tools on how to improve your Decision Making Skills.  We have articles including: 
  • deciding on how to decide,
  • the paradox of choice,
  • decision making "when it hits the fan",
  • the importance of values in making decisions and,
  • steps to effective decision making

Enjoy your reading and as always your feedback would be welcome!

If any of the information interests you and if you would like to find out how it can help you please contact us.  We would love to talk with you.
Making Decisions?
Decision Making 3A few years ago I was facilitating a group of senior people in an organisation to help them come to an agreement on how the Research and Development team should spend its time.  The R & D team had many projects that it could work on, but needed some guidance as to which projects were important to the business.
In the group we had representatives of all of the key stakeholders of the R & D team, including Finance, Sales and Marketing, Administration, Production and of course the R & D Team itself.  Left to their own devices this collection of people would have difficulty advising the priorities for the R & D team.  For instance Finance would like to ensure that the team spent its time on projects that would not burn too much in terms of cost and yet supply the business with a great financial return.  Sales and Marketing wanted products that they could easily take to the market place and make more sales for the business.  Administration wanted to make sure that the R & D projects were easy to handle from their perspective.  Production wanted to ensure that the projects the R & D team worked on would not create products that were difficult to manufacture. The R & D team wanted the projects they worked on to be intellectually stimulating and allow them to show their creativity.
It was clear to me that trying to reach a decision on R & D project priorities would be extremely difficult given the disparate views of each of the stakeholders of what was important. It was necessary that the team first had to decide on how to decide.

So instead of focussing on looking at each of the projects that the R & D team had on its plate and coming to some conclusion as to the relevance of each project we spent a significant amount of the initial meeting time coming up with a series of Decision Making Criteria which could be applied to each of the projects.


The conclusion was a 10 point set of Decision Criteria which consisted of three go/no go questions that if the project did not measure up to positively it would mean that the project would not proceed at that time.  The answers to the remaining 7 questions helped to determine the priority that that project would receive. 


As a result the management team were able to quickly apply the decision making tool they developed to each of the projects in the pipeline.  It gave the R & D team a better view of what was important and enabled other teams to understand what they needed to provide in terms of information to get a sponsored project on the list.

The purpose of this story is to show that in order to improve the quality of and ultimately the speed of decision making we must first decide how we are to decide.
Recently I saw an interview with Barry Swartz, the author of "The Paradox of Choice".  Swartz observes that the basic premise of modern affluent western societies is that "more choice means more freedom".  He argues that this logical premise actually leads to quite the opposite at times.
He uses examples of choice that face us today.  For instance, at his local supermarket there are 75 varieties of Iced Tea, 230 types of Soup, 175 Salad Dressings, 275 Cereals and 40 different toothpastes.
His observation is that all this choice produces paralysis rather than liberation. With so many choices people find it harder to choose.
His argument is that
choice overload can make us question the decisions we make before we even make them, it can set us up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make us blame ourselves for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when our options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.

Schwartz points out how the dramatic explosion in choice--from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs--has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. He also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.
To view Barry Swatrz's thought provoking presentation on TED CLICK HERE.
The secret to overcoming the detrimental effects of having too much choice is to develop the confidence to make decisions.  This confidence is developed by improving decision making skills.

If you would like some help in Making Better Decisions look at how our expert facilitation helps teams make better quality decisions




Alternatively, give us a call and we can talk with you about Decision Making Skill Development Programs 

Values and Decision Making
Hits the Fan
Some time ago I came across a book by Gerald Meyers, the former CEO of American Motors called "When It Hits The Fan". The book catalogued how some organisations had made some very poor decisions when confronted by corporate crises. 

One example was Union Carbide.

In Bhopal, India, a cloud of poison gas from a Union Carbide plant killed more than 1200 people in one night. Not only was it a terrible human loss, it also became an extended public relations nightmare. But the disaster raised much deeper questions about the philosophy of a respected American corporation that would produce dangerous materials in a foreign plant without the usual safety precautions afforded workers at home. Suddenly, communicators were dealing not only with the effects of a major industrial accident; their entire corporate culture was coming under fire.
Another example was the landmark Tylenol case, which began with the tampering deaths of two customers in the Chicago area in September, 1982. At the time, Tylenol controlled 35% of the adult over-the-counter analgesic market, generating $450 million in annual sales and contributing 15% to manufacturer Johnson & Johnson's overall profits. Public exposure to the crisis was widespread; studies showed that 94% of consumers were aware of problems with the product at the time.
Despite the seriousness of the incidents (seven people ultimately died from using tampered products) and the extent of the coverage, Johnson & Johnson was credited with highly successful management of the crisis, which serves today as one of the most widely studied examples of crisis imposed upon an organization from external sources. Because of the corporation's skill in handling the incident, Tylenol recovered 70% of its earlier market share within five months of the disaster.
No organisation could have planned for a tragedy of this size, however it was Johnson & Johnson's corporate philosophy that enabled the company to manage the crisis effectively, protect their corporate reputation and return their beleaguered product to viability in the marketplace. Because Johnson & Johnson had a corporate culture and management encouraged open communication, accountability and responsiveness of constituents it was programmed for success even under crisis conditions.
I had the opportunity only last week to listen to Brian McHenry, the General Manager of my local Crowne Plaza Hotel at Norwest.  Brian was talking about some of the management systems that had been implemented in the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG).  He shared with us the mission of the IHG which is "Great Hotels, Guests Love".  The most important element of the way in which they operate is through what they call their "Winning Ways".  These are a series of principles which are listed below. 

Our Five Winning Ways

Do the right thing

We aim to do what we believe is right and have the courage and conviction to put it into practice. We are honest and straightforward and see our decisions through.

Show we care

We want to be a company that understands people's needs better than anyone else in our industry. This means being sensitive to others, noticing the things that matter and taking responsibility for getting things right.

Aim higher

We aim to be acknowledged industry leaders, and have built a team of talented people who have a will to be the best. We strive for success and we value individuals who are always looking for better ways to do things.

Celebrate difference

We believe it is the knowledge of our people that brings our brands to life. We do not impose a rigid, uniform view of the world. Our global strength comes from celebrating local differences, while knowing that some things should be the same.

Work better together

We are at our best when we collaborate to form a powerful team. We listen to each other and combine our expertise to create a strong, focused, supportive and trusted team of people.

What impressed me as Brian spoke was about how important these winning ways were to running the business.  No decision is made in the business that does not support the winning ways.  They have become the guiding principles for all decisions.  While many organisations give lip service to values it certainly appears that IHG are making them part of the culture of their organisation.


We can help you improve your organisation through helping you define the guiding principles that support your culture. Give us a call.
Decision Making Steps
Steps in Decision Making
1. Determine that a decision is needed.
Decisions are needed if actions are to happen in an orderly way. If you are responsible for making something happen, you must make decisions. Here are good questions to ask at this point:
  • Does it have to be decided?
  • Do I have the authority or power to make and implement the decision?
  • Do I have or can I get the necessary information to make the decision?
  • Who else could make it better?
2. Determine the decision's importance.
Decisions vary in importance. Competent people intuitively know which decisions are important enough to merit more detailed processing.  Most of us, however, know people who have difficulty making distinctions among the decisions they face - people who make all decisions seem equally important. These people usually frustrate themselves and others by agonising over trivial decisions.
The criteria most people use subconsciously to determine how important a decision is to them:
  • How much does it cost?
  • How long is the commitment?
  • Who is involved?
  • Can it be changed later?
  • How soon does it have to be made?
  • How much information is available to make the decision?
3. Assess what limits apply to the decision.
Limits are usually defined in terms of resources available: time, money, people, and so on. It's important to know these limits at the start, so the final decision takes those limits into account. Otherwise, the decision may not work.
Limits, also called parameters or conditions, are usually stated in terms of what resources the decision maker or the management of the organisation is willing and able to apply toward achievement of the objectives. Therefore, when defining limits, you need to ask certain questions about your available resources:
  • Time
  • Money
  • Equipment or facilities
  • Technological capabilities
  • People
  • Technical and managerial skills
  • Other resources that will affect progress toward the goal
4. Determine possible choices.
This is the very important inductive or creative part of the planning process.
It must be done effectively-that is, you must come up with a good list of options from which to choose-if you are to come up with an effective plan.
However, two important points need to be covered here:
  • Complete step 4 before you even consider
    step 5.
  • You almost never need to consider all options.
5. Gather information about the possible choices.
This step is the start of the deductive or data-gathering and analytical (that is, left brain) part of the decision-making process.
  • Too much information can be as bad as too little information.
  • Limit your choices and collect data selectively.
6. Evaluate or test the possible choices.
This step continues the deductive part of the decision-making process. No option is ever perfect. Each option will have pros and cons. These pros and cons will be of different importance in the evaluation of the option. As decision makers, you will have to collect data on each option. How much information you need and where you get it will depend on what sort of decision you're making.
7. Decide and implement the decision (or recycle).
The results of the evaluation in step 6 may lead to an obvious choice. On the other hand, there may be no obvious choice. Although some narrowing of the field of options and further data collection may help, the fact is, most decisions are calculated risks.
The best decision is not always the cheapest or most easily implemented.
Many other factors must be considered:
  • Organisational culture
  • People's needs and tolerance for change
  • Perception

At this point you can implement the decision or recycle the decision-making

process to a more specific level.

We can help you improve your organisation through assisting you with understanding and implementing the seven steps to making decisions. We also train people in the various decision making tools that support each step. Give us a call.
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Matrix Vision is a value added reseller and a user of the most powerful and versatile feedback software tool available today.
People need an efficient, confidential and anonymous vehicle for giving feedback to each other. State-of-the-art software can simplify the process of collecting multi-source (360) feedback for anyone in your organisation.
20/20 Insight GOLD is the world's most versatile feedback tool. With this system, we can set up surveys to collect virtually any type of feedback-ideas, opinions, impressions, ratings - from any number of people about the performance of an individual, a team or even your organisation as a whole.organisation.
Making Decisions
Many organisations understand how valuable feedback is in the development process and they seek a way to implement the feedback process into their organisation.  However, they sometimes become confused by the different providers of survey software.
To help minimise the confusion please watch Barry's presentation on "Why Organisations Prefer 20/20 Insight Feedback"
Why Organisations Prefer 2020
 Some people like to explore and play around with a product before purchase.  If you would like a FREE 30 Day trial of 20/20 Insight Gold to experiment and understand the value of this feedback tool CLICK HERE
Remember you don't have to buy the software to take advantage of it's power.  Let us help you with the administration of your survey needs and save you time, money and worry.
We can work with you to incorporate feedback into your team and individual development to ensure you get a greater return on your investment.
To learn more about the power of 20/20 Insight Gold click on the image.
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To talk with us about how you can use feedback to help improve your organisation, please
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In April the theme of the newsletter will be "Creativity".
All the Best,
Barry Signature
Barry McMaster
Matrix Vision Pty Limited