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Real life can make decision making hard

Chapter 1 Good decision making is critical in personal and professional life


Real-life decisions are rarely as simple as solving a problem in a multiple-choice test. Decision makers often operate in rapidly changing environments where the assessment of the situation often presents the first challenge. Decision makers first need to identify a goal, need or problem that needs addressing. Rarely do people have all the information they need to assess the situation and understand the many factors involved. Decisions often need to be made under ambiguous and uncertain circumstances. The process of decision making can be very complex. In many cases, people lack the information, skills, time or attention to make an optimal decision. In such cases, they may fall into the trap of using mental shortcuts or committing common errors of judgment .

When more than one person is involved in making a decision, it adds another layer of complexity to the process. People may have conflicting goals. The social interaction between people creates group dynamics that can influence the outcome of a decision-making process. Within larger groups organizational culture also needs to be considered.

Judith Orasan Share this expert JO Judith Orasanu and Terry Connolly Share this expert TC Terry Connolly suggested a list of eight major factors that can make decision making difficult:

  • III-structured problems
  • Uncertain dynamic environments
  • Shifting, ill-defined, or competing goals
  • Decisions as a series of actions over time rather than a single event
  • Time stress
  • High stakes
  • Multiple players
  • Organizational goals and norms
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