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Making Quick Decisions About Things You Don't Understand

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    Making Quick Decisions About Things You Don't Understand

    There are many theories about decision making, but all of them assume two things:

    1- We have all the time in the world to evaluate every detail.
    2- We are the smartest in a team.

    But sometimes we have to make decisions really quick while not being the smartest.

    Here is a situation I faced recently:

    In a routine meeting, a new employee who was eager to impress the higher ups suggested “streamlining” a core process. To raise the stakes, he had prepared lots of material and invested a lot of effort in it. All of that was done without informing anyone beforehand. Since I was the most experienced person in the old process and basically the buck stops with me when something goes wrong there, I was asked to chip-in and I told that it was a big risk going forward with the changes to such a core process at a time when we already have many looming deadlines. My sole concern at the time was to make it clear to my boss to not to blame me if the “streamlining” doesn’t work out as advertised and slowed down things instead.

    My brain went into overdrive during the presentation evaluating lots of things and I chose the safest option.

    I wonder how one should handle a situation where one has to make a quick decision about something they don’t have time to understand.

    #2
    Whenever someone makes a New Process Proposal they have to also show what the Cost Benefits are.......The Bosses are always interested in the BOTTOM LINE $$$$

    Everyone understands Cost Savings!...........Did the New Employee do the Trade Study???.....
    Balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi / Kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi / Hasunat jameeu khisaalihi / Sallu alaihi wa aalihi

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      #3
      Originally posted by SindSagar View Post
      Whenever someone makes a New Process Proposal they have to also show what the Cost Benefits are.......The Bosses are always interested in the BOTTOM LINE $$$$

      Everyone understands Cost Savings!...........Did the New Employee do the Trade Study???.....
      The thing is that some ideas seem brilliant on Power Point but they have to be given a field test and that takes time. The timing of a proposal therefore plays a critical role whether it is adopted or discarded. If it is floated at a time when things are slow, it can be evaluated and rough edges smoothed out and adopted. But when things are already a bit crazy, even an amazing idea gets shot down.

      The “streamlined” process was advertised as something that would save time. Consider a library’s re-stocking process. The process kicks in when a book is returned. First the returned book’s status is updated in the library database, then the borrower’s record is updated, then all the books are put in a cart that will be taken to each floor and each book will be placed in it’s designated place. The whole process takes about 1 week per cart of returned books to get all books to their designated place. The new process would get a returned book to its place within 1 day. Surely, the new process sounds outstanding as advertised. So far so good. But no one knows how it will perform in reality and could just jam the whole library. Time to decide all that: 2 hours.

      Another scenario that I faced was moving a pigeon’s nest with eggs. I had to make a decision within 10 minutes. I moved the nest to an open location and to my surprise, another bird ate the eggs while the pigeons desperately tried to search for it in the old location. So that was a bad outcome. I guess everyone faces such situations where they have to make quick decisions without understanding all aspects of a problem.

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