Saturday, 1 July 2017

Decision Making by PETER DRUCKER (modern management) MBA

 1. What is Decision Making?

Decision-making is an essential aspect of modern management. It is a primary function of management. A manager's major job is sound/rational decision-making. He takes hundreds of decisions consciously and subconsciously. Decision-making is the key part of manager's activities. Decisions are important as they determine both managerial and organizational actions. A decision may be defined as "a course of action which is consciously chosen from among a set of alternatives to achieve a desired result." It represents a well-balanced judgment and a commitment to action.
It is rightly said that the first important function of management is to take decisions on problems and situations. Decision-making pervades all managerial actions. It is a continuous process. Decision-making is an indispensable component of the management process itself.

 Means and ends are linked together through decision-making. To decide means to come to some definite conclusion for follow-up action. Decision is a choice from among a set of alternatives. The word 'decision' is derived from the Latin words de ciso which means 'a cutting away or a cutting off or in a practical sense' to come to a conclusion. Decisions are made to achieve goals through suitable follow-up actions. Decision-making is a process by which a decision (course of action) is taken. Decision-making lies embedded in the process of management.According to Peter Drucker, "Whatever a manager does, he does through decision-making". A manager has to take a decision before acting or before preparing a plan for execution. Moreover, his ability is very often judged by the quality of decisions he takes. Thus, management is always a decision-making process. It is a part of every managerial function. This is because action is not possible unless a firm decision is taken about a business problem or situation.
This clearly suggests that decision-making is necessary in planning, organising, directing, controlling and staffing. For example, in planning alternative plans are prepared to meet different possible situations. Out of such alternative plans, the best one (i.e., plan which most appropriate under the available business environment) is to be selected. Here, the planner has to take correct decision. This suggests that decision-making is the core of planning function. In the same way, decisions are required to be taken while performing other functions of management such as organising, directing, staffing, etc. This suggests the importance of decision-making in the whole process of management.
The effectiveness of management depends on the quality of decision-making. In this sense, management is rightly described as decision-making process. According to R. C. Davis, "management is a decision-making process." Decision-making is an intellectual process which involves selection of one course of action out of many alternatives. Decision-making will be followed by second function of management called planning. The other elements which follow planning are many such as organising, directing, coordinating, controlling and motivating.
Decision-making has priority over planning function. According to Peter Drucker, it is the top management which is responsible for all strategic decisions such as the objectives of the business, capital expenditure decisions as well as such operating decisions as training of manpower and so on. Without such decisions, no action can take place and naturally the resources would remain idle and unproductive. The managerial decisions should be correct to the maximum extent possible. For this, scientific decision-making is essential.

2. Definitions of Decision-making

    The Oxford Dictionary defines the term decision-making as "the action of carrying out or carrying into effect".
    According to Trewatha & Newport, "Decision-making involves the selection of a course of action from among two or more possible alternatives in order to arrive at a solution for a given problem".

3. Characteristics of Decision Making

    Decision making implies choice: Decision making is choosing from among two or more alternative courses of action. Thus, it is the process of selection of one solution out of many available. For any business problem, alternative solutions are available. Managers have to consider these alternatives and select the best one for actual execution. Here, planners/ decision-makers have to consider the business environment available and select the promising alternative plan to deal with the business problem effectively. It is rightly said that "Decision-making is fundamentally choosing between the alternatives". In decision-making, various alternatives are to be considered critically and the best one is to be selected. Here, the available business environment also needs careful consideration. The alternative selected may be correct or may not be correct. This will be decided in the future, as per the results available from the decision already taken. In short, decision-making is fundamentally a process of choosing between the alternatives (two or more) available. Moreover, in the decision-making process, information is collected; alternative solutions are decided and considered critically in order to find out the best solution among the available. Every problem can be solved by different methods. These are the alternatives and a decision-maker has to select one alternative which he considers as most appropriate. This clearly suggests that decision-making is basically/fundamentally choosing between the alternatives. The alternatives may be two or more. Out of such alternatives, the most suitable is to be selected for actual use. The manager needs capacity to select the best alternative. The benefits of correct decision-making will be available only when the best alternative is selected for actual use.
    Continuous activity/process: Decision-making is a continuous and dynamic process. It pervades all organizational activity. Managers have to take decisions on various policy and administrative matters. It is a never ending activity in business management.
    Mental/intellectual activity: Decision-making is a mental as well as intellectual activity/process and requires knowledge, skills, experience and maturity on the part of decision-maker. It is essentially a human activity.
    Based on reliable information/feedback: Good decisions are always based on reliable information. The quality of decision-making at all levels of the Organisation can be improved with the support of an effective and efficient management information system (MIS).
    Goal oriented process: Decision-making aims at providing a solution to a given problem/ difficulty before a business enterprise. It is a goal-oriented process and provides solutions to problems faced by a business unit.
    Means and not the end: Decision-making is a means for solving a problem or for achieving a target/objective and not the end in itself.
    Relates to specific problem: Decision-making is not identical with problem solving but it has its roots in a problem itself.
    Time-consuming activity: Decision-making is a time-consuming activity as various aspects need careful consideration before taking final decision. For decision makers, various steps are required to be completed. This makes decision-making a time consuming activity.
    Needs effective communication: Decision-taken needs to be communicated to all concerned parties for suitable follow-up actions. Decisions taken will remain on paper if they are not communicated to concerned persons. Following actions will not be possible in the absence of effective communication.
    Pervasive process: Decision-making process is all pervasive. This means managers working at all levels have to take decisions on matters within their jurisdiction.
    Responsible job: Decision-making is a responsible job as wrong decisions prove to be too costly to the Organisation. Decision-makers should be matured, experienced, knowledgeable and rational in their approach. Decision-making need not be treated as routing and casual activity. It is a delicate and responsible job.

4. Advantages of Decision Making

    Decision making is the primary function of management: The functions of management starts only when the top-level management takes strategic decisions. Without decisions, actions will not be possible and the resources will not be put to use. Thus decision-making is the primary function of management.
    Decision-making facilitates the entire management process: Decision-making creates proper background for the first management activity called planning. Planning gives concrete shape to broad decisions about business objectives taken by the top-level management. In addition, decision-making is necessary while conducting other management functions such as organising, staffing, coordinating and communicating.
    Decision-making is a continuous managerial function: Managers working at all levels will have to take decisions as regards the functions assigned to them. Continuous decision making is a must in the case of all managers/executives. Follow-up actions are not possible unless decisions are taken.
    Decision-making is essential to face new problems and challenges: Decisions are required to be taken regularly as new problems, difficulties and challenges develop before a business enterprise. This may be due to changes in the external environment. New products may come in the market, new competitors may enter the market and government policies may change. All this leads to change in the environment around the business unit. Such change leads to new problems and new decisions are needed.
    Decision-making is a delicate and responsible job: Managers have to take quick and correct decisions while discharging their duties. In fact, they are paid for their skill, maturity and capacity of decision-making. Management activities are possible only when suitable decisions are taken. Correct decisions provide opportunities of growth while wrong decisions lead to loss and instability to a business unit.

5. Steps Involved In Decision Making Process

Decision-making involves a number of steps which need to be taken in a logical manner. This is treated as a rational or scientific 'decision-making process' which is lengthy and time consuming. Such lengthy process needs to be followed in order to take rational/scientific/result oriented decisions. Decision-making process prescribes some rules and guidelines as to how a decision should be taken / made. This involves many steps logically arranged. It was Peter Drucker who first strongly advocated the scientific method of decision-making in his world famous book 'The Practice of Management' published in 1955. Drucker recommended the scientific method of decision-making which, according to him, involves the following six steps:

    > Defining / Identifying the managerial problem,
    >Analyzing the problem,
    >Developing alternative solutions,
    >Selecting the best solution out of the available alternatives,
    >Converting the decision into action, and
    >Ensuring feedback for follow-up.
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