Leadership Decision Making

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Decisions are at the heart of leader success, and at times there are critical moments when they can be difficult, perplexing, and nerve-racking. However, the boldest decisions are the safest. This source provides useful and practical guidance for making efficient and effective decisions in both public and private life. Nothing succeeds a success better than another sweet success.

Professor Hossein Arsham   

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  1. Introduction and Summary
  2. How People Avoid Making Serious Decisions
  3. When One Should Not Make Serious Decisions
  4. How to Make Good Decisions
  5. Decisions Concerning Personal Life
  6. Problem of Determination of Values and Rank among Values
  7. Thinkable Decisions and the Economy of Strategic Thinking
  8. What Is Man? Man Has No Nature, But Has History
  9. How the Mind Works: From Deciding to Action
  10. How to Distinguish among Rumor, Belief, Opinion, and Fact
  11. Leadership versus Managerial's Duties and Styles
  12. Cognitive Decision Making
  13. Behavioral Decision Making
  14. Ethics and Decision Making
  15. Leadership in a Diverse and Multicultural Environmen
  16. Human Side of Decision Making
  17. Personal and Public Views of Rationality
  18. Human Understanding in a Historical Context
  19. General Further Readings
  20. Appendex: A Collection of Keywords and Phrases

Companion Sites:

Introduction and Summary

"Somewhere along the line of development we discover what we really are, and then we make our real decision for which we are responsible. Make that decision primarily for yourself because you can never really live anyone else's life."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt   

Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in the lack of understanding, but in the lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Have courage to use your own understanding! Enlightenment means taking full responsibility for your life.

Declaration of Independence in American Revolution contains the beauty and cogency of the preamble, reaching back to remotest antiquity and forward so an indefinite future, have lifted the hearts of millions of men and will continue to do. These words are more explosive and revolutionary than anything written ever those are a continual inspiration to the entire oppressed individuals around the world.

The total effect of the culture and industry is one of anti-enlightenment that is the progressive technical domination of nature, becomes mass deception and is turned into a means for fettering consciousness. It impedes the development of autonomous, independent individuals who judge and decide consciously for themselves.

You are free to decide within certain limits: A free person is the one who know and recognizes his/her feasible region e.g., set by his/her society. The slave is not aware of such limits. A free person is wise to recognize what is under his/her control and what is not, and has the ability to accept the first and extend the second one. You may have heard that "If there is a will, then there must be a way". In fact the advice should be in the opposite order, i.e. "If there is a way, then there might be a will". It is right because the feasible region might be empty, and one might ignores one or some constraints, and then being in a big trouble, e.g., willing beyond ones' ability.

The unrealistic expectations of freedom and rights to make your own decisions will destroy a person unless it is recognized that these ideals are privileges and not necessities and therefore they are accompanied by responsibilities.

Fear is not in the habit of speaking the truth; when perfect sincerity is expected, perfect freedom must be allowed. Nor does anyone who is apt to get angry when hearing the truth should wonder why he does not hear it. For example, when I asked a business manager what had made his organization one of the best in his industry, he pointed to his CIO and said "Joe is a millionaire. He can quit any time. He says what he thinks is right!"

Mind is what your brain does consciously. Our minds perform a series of information processing in order to form strategies needed to live our daily lives. This process is known as decision making. However, aside from making decisions, because of many kinds of uncertainties we also face a problem called decidophobia, which is the fear of making the wrong decisions combined with nervous agitation. Moreover, fear of judgement by others is a sure path to unhappiness which is a state of mind.

Decisions are at the heart of success, and at times there are critical moments when they can be difficult, perplexing, and nerve racking. This site provides help and guidance for making efficient and effective decisions by putting to use a well-structured approach and well-focused process known as the modeling or paradigm process. The word paradigm comes from the Greek word paradeigma, meaning "model" or "pattern." A model represents a way of looking at the world, a shared set of assumptions that enable us to understand or predict behavior. Models have a powerful influence on individuals and on society because our view of the world is determined by our set of assumptions about it. To put it another way, our vision is often affected by what we believe about the world; our beliefs often determine the information that we "see."

Decision-making is about facing a question, such as, "To be or not to be?", i.e., to be the one you want to be or not to be? That is a decision. Humanity has always lived in the shadow of fears. Yet almost nothing was known about fear until Freud began the study of unusual phobias. A little later, some psychologists suggested that one dread is common to all mankind: the dread of death.

Decisions, decisions and more decisions! The fear of making serious decisions is a new kind of fear, called decidophobia, proclaimed by Walter Kaufmann at Princeton University in 1973. The fear of making the wrong decisions is well known to any responsible manager. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face." Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision. There has never yet been a person in the history of mankind who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering. The difficulty in life is the choice.

The Latin word Decido has two meanings. It can mean to decide and also to fall off. Hence plants are called deciduous if their leaves fall off in the fall. The word fall started as "leaf fall" for autumn in the 15th century. The expression "take the plunge" suggests the relevance of both meanings. Making a wrong decision provokes the fear of falling.

An effective and proven decision process has been developed over the last 70 years and is known as Operations Research/Management Science/Decision Science/Success Science (OR/MS/DS/SS). In the serious decisions that mold the future of your business, freedom becomes tangible; serious decisions are objects of extreme dread. Serious business decisions that ultimately shape, guide, and direct our future are extremely fearful to business managers. These decisions involve norms, standards, and the comparison and choice of goals. Learning the structured, well-focused approach to the decision-making process lessens decidophobia. The gem of Applied Management Science is that it turns the old adage that "business managers are born, not made" into myth. If one can master management science applications, then no problem is too big nor any decision too overwhelming. The goal of management science experts is to wipe out decidophobia.

The first requisite for success science is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one decision problem/opportunity incessantly without growing weary. Just being worried about making serious decisions is like sitting on a rocking chair--it gives you something to do but doesn't get you anywhere. Therefore worrying about making a decision is a waste of time. A decision is something you have the capability of changing. Anything else is a fact of life. The first principle in making good decision is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. Moreover, making a decision and implementing one are two different things. Here is a question for you: Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left? A protracted decision is only one part of the process of choosing because it lacks the commitment to implement the decision. There is a big difference between making a decision and implementing it. The measure of success is not whether you have a tough decision to deal with, but whether it's the same decision you had before. Decide like a man of action; implement like a man of thought. It does not take much strength to decide what to do, but it requires great strength to do things.

Unlike deterministic models (risk-free decisions), the outcome of some decisions depends on the second party, as is the case in any advertising campaign strategic decisions in a competitive market. Therefore, one of the characteristics of decision analysis problems is that "good" decision-making does not necessarily bring about good outcomes. "How could I have been so stupid?" former USA president, John F. Kennedy, asked after he approved the Bay of Pigs invasion.

A decision usually involves three steps:

  1. A recognition of a need: A dissatisfaction within oneself--a void or need;
  2. A decision to change--to fill the void or need;
  3. A conscious dedication to implement the decision.

So aside from that, we see that making the correct decisions is not only what we want to do, but includes what we have to do. The fool who repeats again and again: "I am bound, I am bound," remains in bondage. The fear of making the wrong decision is what pushes and guides us to making a decision by utilizing a scientific approach. This is what Management Science is all about.

One must distinguish between science facts and science fictions. Science fiction is a form of fiction that was developed in the 20th century and deals principally with the impact of imagined science upon society or individuals. Management science is a science fact which is evolving, self-correcting and, unlike science fiction, not valid for eternity. Whenever science is distorted, sensationalized or even reduced to a pseudo scientific level, a grave disservice is done to the public's attempt to understand scientific facts.

Each and every business day the manager puts many decision questions to the test. The questions must first be identified as problems or opportunities, verified; scaled into mathematical models for which an answer will abound, and then controlled by updating the solutions because of the dynamic nature of business decisions. Mathematics has been recognized as an autonomous interior constructional activity which, although it can be applied to an exterior world, neither in its origin nor in its methods depends on an exterior world. The criterion of a good mathematical model is confined to its usefulness in making good strategic decisions. This is the absolute core of Management Science approach to decision-making, which is the science of decision-making. Not all science facts have practical usefulness. For example, Darwin's insight had no practical payoff, but he was a revered figure because he changed the way humans see their place in nature.

It is this approach to decision-making that makes the business successful. But it is important to note that such a process does not come easily. Again, this process is of a three-fold origin that encapsulates doctrines of computer integration, mathematical scaling and modeling and finally re-entering new data transformations that will occur as time ticks onward. This is the complex analysis that will deduct our thinking in this regard.

Management Science can help reduce or eliminate the fear of making wrong decisions by providing help with the decision-making process. In fact, management science's goal is to eliminate decidophobia. This is accomplished through the phased processes of management science that dissects the components of the decision into workable elements and allows one to proceed to the decision-making stage with sound knowledge on which to base one's choice. However, if you choose not to use management science, there are plenty of other ways to avoid making decisions.

Further Readings:
Deutsch M., and P. Coleman, (Eds.), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 2000.
Drucker P., Managing knowledge means managing oneself, a Leader to Leader, Vol No 16, Spring 2000. A very interesting article, warning that "... For the first time - literally - substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it."
Fuller J., Managing Performance Improvement Projects: Preparing, Planning, and Implementing, Pfeiffer & Co., 1997.
Janis I., and L. Mann, Decision Making: A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice and Commitments, Free Press, 1977.
Kaufmann W., From Decidophobia to Autonomy: Without Guilt and Justice, A Delta Book, 1973.
McClure L., Anger and Conflict in the Workplace: Spot the Signs, Avoid the Trauma, Manassas Park Pub., VA, 2000.
Siewert Ch., The Significance of Consciousness, Princeton University Press, 1999. The relationship between phenomenal and intentional thinking is explored.
Steiner C., Scripts People Live: Transactional Analysis of Life Scripts, Grove Press, 1990.

How People Avoid Making Serious Decisions

In The Histories, written in 450 B.C., Herodotus makes the following statement:

"If an important decision is to be made [the Persians] discuss the question when they are drunk and the following day the master of the house...submits their decision for reconsideration when they are sober. If they still approve it, it is adopted; if not, it is abandoned. Conversely, any decision they make when they are sober is reconsidered afterwards when they are drunk."

What a strange way to make decisions, you might say. Perhaps it is, but there are even stranger methods of human choice.

Misery of Indecisiveness
In the Misery of Indecisiveness

Popular Strategic Methods:

Recourse to someone or even something else: Examples are astrology (not astronomy which is a science), palm readings, looking up at stars, dialing 1-900 psychic friends, telepathy, telekinesis, the aura, crystals, dreams, colors, Feng Shui, numerology, fortune-tellers, etc. Physiognomy is any judgment about a person's character based on external appearance. Examples of physiognomy are: reflexology (your feet know), iridology (your eyes know). Physiognomy dates back to Aristotle.

For example, in contrast to astrology, one must accept the fact that success is not due to a fortuitous concourse of stars at our birth, but due to a steady trail of sparks from the grindstones of hard work, determination, good planning, and perseverance. When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.

In all these popular avoidance strategies, you are better off taking advice from Kermit the Frog. A New York City detective said, "I've gone into hundreds of fortune-tellers, and have been told thousands of things, but nobody ever told me I was a policewoman getting ready to arrest them." Fortune befriends the bold who make good decisions.
Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.

False hopes: Hoping for something to happen over which we have no control over its outcome. For example, hoping your airplane lands safely while you are just a passenger and not the pilot of the plane. False hope and fear are two sides of the same coin. We can promise according to our hopes that are under our control only (and have some degree of certainty on its outcome), however, we avoid making decisions according to our fears of the outcomes.

Do not think about it: The decision-makers who are waiting for something to turn up, might start with their shirt sleeves. You can either take action, or you can hang back and hope for a miracle. Miracles are great, but they are so unpredictable. Doing nothing about a problem on hand, will certainly get out of control and devour other elements of your business too. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.

Do anchoring: Give disproportional weights to some information instead of waiting as long as possible, to have all the information.

Sunk-cost conscious: Repeat the same decision because "you have invested so much in this approach (or your current job) that you cannot abandon it or make another decision (or look for a better position)."

Failure to reflect on the problem: Reflection before action is often resisted by some managers. They often feel that reflection takes too much time, requires too much work, or they do not know much about decision problem/opportunity. Remember that: A man should always be already booted to take his journey.

Look for confirming-evidence: Seek out the information to support an existing preselection and discount opposing ones. To put what you like against what you dislike is the hanky-panky of the mind.

Pray for a miracle: Whatever we pray for, we pray for a miracle. Every prayer reduces itself to this: "Great God, grant that twice two be not four." A miracle is an event described by those to whom it was told by men who did not see it. As Emerson said, "As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect."

The worse things get,
the harder people pray,
the worse things get.

Be over-confident: This makes you optimistic and then make high risk decisions. As Henri Poincare said, "Doubt everything or believe everything: these are two equally convenient strategies. With either, we dispense with the need to think for ourselves."

Be too prudent: Be over curious long enough to delay the decision. If you are too careful, you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over what you are going to decide. Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the opportunities, by fearing to make our decision. Indecision is debilitating; it feeds upon itself; it is, one might almost say, habit-forming. Not only that, but it is contagious; it transmits itself to others who depend on you.

Misrepresentation: Use argument that "seems" scientific. For example, compute and use the average salary as a typical representative of salary rather than the median.

Pass the buck: Pass off responsibility of making the decision to someone else. Do not make decisions by yourself. Bring in someone to blame if things go wrong. For example, for life's problems some may marry to constantly blame their spouse because it is easier than taking responsibility. Remember that it takes two to tango.

Have second thoughts: Second thoughts have aborted more useful decisions than all the difficult circumstances, overwhelming obstacles, and dangerous detours fate ever could throw at you. Undermining your authenticity by succumbing to someone else's second thoughts is a sinister, subtle, and seductive form of self-abuse.

Succumb to failure: Believe that the choices you will make are predestined and you are bound to fail (one gets used to failure) versus the result of hard work and thought.

Set up a committee: To make decisions, try to set up a committee not necessarily consisting of experts. So if everything goes well, every member is proud of such a decision. But if everything goes wrong, nobody is responsible. Every member would say, "It was not I; it was the committee's decision. You see, we couldn't agree, therefore we voted". Put a face to a faceless group, call it "the committee." A committee is an animal with four back legs. The committee's members, who are wishing that just to vote in "either/or" fashion are those who are not able to contribute to the decision-making process, therefore shouldn't be trusted with an important decision. A group decision support system could be a technologically advanced version of this strategy. Of course setting up a committee could be done correctly with the proper experts. However, my experience has shown that committees are used more to displace blame and accountability. I see no good in having group decision makers. Let one person be the decision maker; let one person be responsible and accountable. A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. The greatest things are often accomplished by individual people, not by committees.
What does it mean to say that committee might have a responsibility? Committee cannot have a responsibility any more than the business can. The only entities that can have responsibilities are people.

False decentralization:Decentralization could take place when an authoritative manager delegates accountability to a new "director of…" for every new decision-making problem, but not delegating any authority.

Failure to define the problem: This certainly lends to a wrong solution. Not knowing the problem, any solution is wrong. If you know the problem then, your solution might be good.

Common Sense-based decisions: If you start making decisions on the basis of conventional wisdom or chatter in the hall, generally speaking, you will make the wrong decision. What is called common sense is almost always uncommon.

Failure to understand the problem: This is caused, among others, by subjectivity, irrational analysis, lateness or procrastination, lack of sensitivity, and lack of focus.

Complexity is confusing to the decision maker: Simplify and even change the problem to something which you have a strategic solution for (e.g. this is committed by many OR/MS/DS/SS analysts when they change the model to fit their strategic solution algorithm).

Rationalization to limit the course of actions: This strategy is very popular. Stack the cards to make one alternative clearly right and remove all risk.

Reasoning by analogy: Analogies are not made for proof.

Information: Information gathered is not valid. Decisions are often made first and information sought to support the solution, or much of the information gathered is irrelevant to the decision-making.

False alternative: It attempts to box the decision-maker into a corner from which there is no escape except to accept the alternative. "If you are against abortion, you must work for a law against it." This is an example of false alternative, because you may think that a law against it is even worse.

Decision is only symbolic: One will fight hard for a policy and then be indifferent to its implementation.

The Decision maker has obligations: Sometimes decision makers act against integrity to meet some critical personal obligations.

Toe the line: When faced with questions such as "What should I do?", "How should I live?", etc., you may "Toe the line", that is, follow the group, don't disagree and do what others are doing in your profession as men in uniform (i.e., one form) do.

Best of all, decline responsibility: Some shrugged their shoulders as if to shake off whatever chips of responsibility might have lodged there. Stagnate or do nothing is another possible one. Some people do this in belief that the right strategic solution will eventually become obvious. Decline all responsibility, or better still, do nothing; i.e., status quoism. However, "not to decide is to decide". A business manager makes decisions. Whether they are right or wrong, they get made, and they are clear. A weak manager procrastinates and gives false signals, leaving subordinates to charge off in different directions. To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. The choice not to choose is the choice to remain unconscious and, therefore, to wield power irresponsibly.

Post-decision anxieties: The more highly desirable the alternatives that must be rejected and the faster the decision must be made, the greater are these anxieties (also known as cognitive dissonance). Most people accentuate the positive in their decision and deny or ignore the positive aspect of the rejected alternatives.

Misattribution of causes: Attribute your own success to your skills and hard work and your failures to unavoidable external forces. Do the opposite for other people's success and failure.

Your anxiety is directly proportional to your mental modeling process of reality, for you bring on yourself unlimited fears and unrealistic desires. Decision-making involves a series of steps. The mental modeling process begins with the formation of goals and proceeds to the identification of problems and alternative courses of action. It does not end until well after the decision or choice is actually made and the post decision anxieties have been experienced. Decision-making, however, is one management function that is important at all points in the process of management.

When One Should Not Make Serious Decisions?

Do not make any serious decisions because you are angry, hurt, depressed, desperate, or frightened. Do not make decisions just to get revenge or to harm someone else. Do not make decision when you are incapable of rational thought. Make decision for the right reasons and when you are calm and thoughtful. Even at these states of mind you must decide whether making any decision is necessary or desirable. Spend some careful thought before acting, so that you will not end up making unnecessary problems.

The following sets of situations for avoiding decision-making are legitimate and appropriate. These conditions include: depression and other mental illness which impairs decision-making functions, coercion, and revelation states. There are situations when you should not make serious decisions. For example, depression is the inability to construct a future. Suppose a person in an executive position within a company has Depression, which is a mental disease, he or she should not be in charge of making serious decisions while being under medical treatment. Otherwise, it could be costly to the company For example, the well-publicized case of the Norwegian Prime Minister depression situation, he conquered his depression to assume his usual responsibilities after staying out of office for a few weeks. You might have read A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash, or seen its movie version, A Beautiful Mind. Richard Nixon claimed that, "I was under medication when I made the decision to burn the tapes."

Coercive decision-making: Coercive persuasions are Mind Control tactics which are part of a Brainwashing practice. They are designed to greatly modify a person's self-concept, perception of reality, and interpersonal relations. When successful, they influence the victim's Thinking Straight ability. Brainwashing is a very intricate process that consists of two stages:

Coping with such an inhumane treatment by other people requires first of all that one should never allow the feeling that he/she is a victim but rather a survivor:

The most effective propaganda and indoctrination system is one where its victims do not think they are being propagandized and indoctrinated. We are all familiar with "mild" persuasive techniques used in commercial advertising campaigns to influence consumers' buying behavior. "They" tell us we’ll be healthier, happier, sexier, smarter if only we purchase their products. Many people are unhappy, and neurotic today partly because advertising has caused them to have unrealistic expectations of life, themselves, their jobs due to the fantasy-land products and services that are constantly pushed on them.

Solving a problem by creating a new one: Often, because of deep frustrations in facing a difficult problem, one may unfortunately solve it by creating a bigger problem. This strategy tries to get rid of a present problem with the unfortunate byproduct of forming a new problem. For example using alcohol instead of facing the difficulties of the problem courageously will only result in the realization that if alcohol kills germs it also removes personal dignity. In reality, the "happy-hours" are followed by the misery of addiction. Every solution may have a problem.

Being in a revelation state: Whenever you are feeling an extremely pleasant or very deep sadness state, characterize a revelation state of being. You should never make decisions based on whatever you said or committed yourself that you will do while being in a revelation state. They are merely declarations made out of extreme emotions rather than results of calm, well focused thinking. The best recommendation is to never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass.

Further Readings:
Arsham H., Decidofobia: Miedo a la toma de decisiones importantes. ¿Cómo evitar tomar decisiones importantes?, Revista Inter-Forum, 16(3), 50-62, 2002.
De La Boétie E., The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, Harry Kurz (Translator), Black Rose Books Ltd., 1998.
Gracian B., The Art of Worldly Wisdom: A Pocket Oracle, Currency Publisher, New York, 1992, Translation and Introduction by Ch. Maurer. This is a collection of aphorisms and reflections on the art of success in both private and public decision making.
Leach J., Survival Psychology, Macmillian, 1994.
Meerloo, J., The Rape of the Mind, The University Library, 1961.
Rosen M., On Voluntary Servitude: False Consciousness and the Theory of Ideology, Harvard University Press., 1996.
Sargant W., Battle For The Mind, Heinemann, London, 1976.
Stephens L., and G. Graham, When Self-Consciousness Breaks: Alien Voices and Inserted Thoughts, MIT Press, 2000. Examines thought insertion as example of what the authors call "alienated self-consciousness."
Sun-Tzu, The Art of War, R. Sawyer (Translator), Barnes and Noble Company, 1994.
Sun-Tzu, and G. Michaelson, Sun Tzu: The Art of War for Managers, Pressmark International, 1999.

Visit also the Mindful-Things Web site.

How to Make Good Decisions

Unlike the strategies used in the previous section which tell you what to do, it is possible to learn how to make good decisions. It is possible to learn the process of making good strategic decisions by practiced deciding. This Web site is about practiced deciding, to which you must give enough thought. You will learn how to use your own abilities within a focused and structured decision process to actively and pro-actively make decisions. Active decision-making involves a responsible choice that you must make, while pro-active decision making is the practice of making decisions in advance just like "in the case of fire".

Decision Problems or Decision Opportunities: At one time or another, organizations develop an over-abundance of decision problems. Sometimes they can be linked to organizational trauma, like down sizing, budget restraints or workload increases, but sometimes they evolve over time with no apparent triggering event. Increased complaining, a focus on reasons why things can't be done, and what seems to be a lack of active role characterize the "problem" organization. If the manager is walking negative and talking in a negative way, staff will follow.

In many instances we forget to find positives. When an employee makes an impractical solution, we are quick to dismiss the idea. We should be identifying the effort while gently discussing the idea. Look for small victories, and talk about them. Turning a problem into an opportunity is a result of many little actions. Provide positive recognition as soon as you find out about good performance. Do not couple positive strokes with suggestions for improvement. Separate them. Combining them devalues the recognition for many people. It is easy to get caught in the general complaining and bitching, particularly in customers' complains.

Decisions are an inevitable part of human activities. It requires the right attitude. Every problem, properly perceived, becomes an opportunity. In most situations the decision-maker must view the problems as opportunities rather than solving problems. For example, suppose you receive a serious complaint letter from a dissatisfied customer. You may turn this problem into an opportunity by finding out more about what is wrong with the product/service, learning from the customer's experience in order to improve the quality of your product/service. It all depends on the decision-maker's attitude. A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.

A deliberate effort to broaden your experiences is the single most helpful effort in making good decisions. By exposing yourself to a variety of different experiences causes you to look at things from different perspectives. This provides you with extra mind-eyes to see problems and issues, and compare them to apparently unrelated situations and see new opportunities.

Search process approach by diagramming: Most of your decisions can be made using your past experiences and some strategic thinking. You may encounter problems where one wrong decision could have adverse long-term effects and lead to severe mistakes and considerable failures. In many situations, small bad decisions turn out to have important consequences, as for example, in air traffic accidents. When things go wrong, one may try to discover the causes for it. In these types of decision problems that some historical knowledge and experience, the decision-maker may apply a search process to find the main factors that cause the problem. This will enable the decision-maker to make the appropriate decisions and take the necessary steps to remedy the situation.

From the start of human history, diagrams have been pervasive in communication. The role of diagrams and sketches in communication, cognition, creative thought, and decision-making is a growing field. Consider the question: "why has profit declined?" The following diagram contains a search process by diagraming for this decision problem:

The Search Process approach

Subjective and Objective Decision-Making: Your decisions might be categorized in two groups with possible overlaps in some cases. One category is subjective decision-making which are private, such as how you want to live your life, or decide on something just because "It feels good". In subjective decisions you might also consider your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The other group of decisions is objective, purely unemotional decision-makings, which are public, and require one to "Step outside one" so that you can discount your emotions. For example, a CIO deciding for the company must ask among other questions, "Can I convince the shareholders?" This group of decision-making involves responsibility, which requires rational, defensible and accountable decisions. Therefore, the first group consists of private decisions which might involve emotion, and the second is almost entirely based on rational decision-making. However, the really hard decisions involve a combination of both. The difficulty might arise from the fact that emotions and rational strategic thinking are on two different sides of the human brain, and in difficult decisions one must be able to use both sides simultaneously. The following table contains the two extreme approaches of human's mind, namely the pure-subjectivity and the pure-objectivity:

Subjectivity versus Objectivity of Human's Mind
Subjectivism Objectivism
Decision Voluntarism Determinism
Ontology Nominalism Realism
Epistemology Normative Positivism
Methodology Ideology Experimental

The Decision-Making Process: A decision-maker must first decide on his/her values and set goals to insure a fruitful decision-making process. The environment you fashion out of your decisions is the only climate you will ever live in. Therefore, before taking any course of action one must discover/create a set of alternative courses of action and gather information about each. Having gathered the information with which to make a decision, one must apply information for each course of action to predict the outcomes of each possible alternatives and make a decision for implementation. Out of every good decision, comes forth a new problem that will require another effort. Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult decision problem.

Personal Decision-Making Process

In the decision-making modeling process we must investigate the effects of presenting different decision alternatives retrospectively; that is, "as if" you have implemented your strategy. The decision has already been made under a different course of actions. The key to a good decision is reflection before action, therefore, the sequence of steps in the above decision-making modeling process must be considered in reverse order. For example, the output (which is the result of our action) must be considered first. The following are the decision-making sequential steps with some possible loops:

  1. Value and the Objective: Consider the full range of objectives to be fulfilled and the values implicated by your action.

  2. Set of Actions: Thoroughly consider a wide range of possible alternative courses of action. The above decision-making process includes the study of identifying and choosing alternatives based on the values and preferences of the decision-maker. Therefore making a decision implies that there are alternative choices to be considered, and in such a case we want not only to identify as many of these alternatives as possible but to choose the one that best fits with our goals, desires, lifestyle, values, and so on.

  3. Evaluate the Consequences: Carefully weigh whatever you know about the costs and risks of negative as well as positive consequences that could flow from each alternative.

  4. Gathering Information: Intensively search for new information relevant to further evaluation of the alternatives. Information can be classified as explicit and tacit forms. The explicit information can be explained in structured form, while tacit information is inconsistent and fuzzy to explain. Decision-making process must include the reduction of uncertainty and doubt about the uncontrollable inputs. This can be achieved by gathering reliable information. Although the uncertainty cannot be eliminated in most cases, however the more useful information reduces certain amount of risk.

  5. Information Processing: Correctly assimilate and take account of any new information or expert judgment, even when the information does not support the course of action initially preferred.

  6. Action Assessment: Re-examine positive and negative consequences of known alternatives, including those originally regarded as unacceptable, before making a final decision.

  7. Implementation of Your Decision: Make detailed provisions for implementing and executing the chosen course of action, including contingency plans for known risks and adjustments. The art of life is a constant readjustment to our situation. The decision-maker must have a set of contingent decisions at this stage. These are decisions that have been made but put on hold until some condition is met.

Finally, I would like to list some characteristics of "Good" decision makers:

Other Widely Used Decision Analysis Methods

Selection of an appropriate decision technology depends mostly on the type of information available and the technical working knowledge of the decision analyst. The most popular techniques are Pareto Analysis, Paired Comparison Analysis, Grid Analysis, Weighing the pros and cons, Force Field Analysis, Six Thinking Hats, and the Cost/Benefit Analysis, among others including the Decision Tree and Influence Diagram , which have graphical representations as effective decision-making tools. Any decision technology might be helpful in providing some insights, however, the ultimate responsibility is yours in even deciding what technique to use and what decision to make.

Paired comparison analysis: Paired Comparison Analysis helps you to work out the importance of a number of options relative to each other. It is particularly useful where you do not have objective data to base this on. This makes it easy to choose the most important problem to solve, or select the solution that will give you the greatest advantage. Paired Comparison Analysis helps you to set priorities where there are conflicting demands on your resources. In using this technique, list your options. Then draw up a grid with each option as both a row and a column header. Use this grid to compare each option with each other option, one-by-one. For each comparison, decide which of the two options is most important, and then assign a score to show how much more important it is. You can then consolidate these comparisons so that each option is given a percentage importance.

Grid analysis: Grid Analysis is a useful technique to use for making a decision. It is most effective where you have a number of good alternatives and many factors to take into account. The first step is to list your options and then the factors that are important for making the decision. Lay these out in a table, with options as the row labels, and factors as the column headings. Next work out the relative importance of the factors in your decision. Show these as numbers. You use these numbers to weight your preferences by the importance of the factor. These values may be obvious - if they are not, then use a technique such as Paired Comparison Analysis to estimate them. The next step is to work your way across your table, scoring each option for each of the important factors in your decision. Score each option from 0 (poor) to 3 (very good). Note that you do not have to have a different score for each option - if none of them are good for a particular factor in your decision, then all options should score 0. Now multiply each of your scores by the values for your relative importance. This will give them the correct overall weight in your decision. Finally add up these scores for your options. The option that scores the highest is the best.

Pros-Cons-Interesting implications method: Prior to the science of the making decision era most managers relied on the "Pros-Cons-Interesting implications method". In using this approach, simply write down the proposed decision and then below it, draw up a table with headings 'Pros', 'Cons' and 'Interesting implications'. In the column underneath the 'Pros' heading, write down all the positive points of taking the action. Underneath the 'Cons' heading write down all the negative effects. In the 'Interesting implications' column write down the extended implication of the action, whether positive or negative. The main weakness of this approach is that the score you assign can be entirely subjective. Therefore, this approach may not help you in defending yourself if the outcome of your decision is undesirable to those whom you are accountable. It is known that, Benjamin Franklin based all his important decisions using the Pros-and-Cons methodology.

Weighing the pros and cons: To use the weighing pros and cons, draw up a table headed up 'Plus', 'Minus', and 'Implications'. In the column underneath 'Plus', write down all the positive results of taking the action, then underneath 'Minus' write down all the negative effects. In the 'Implications' column write down the implications and possible outcomes of taking the action, whether positive or negative. At this stage it may already be obvious whether or not you should implement the decision. If it is not, consider each of the points you have written down and assign a positive or negative score to it appropriately. The scores you assign may be quite subjective. Once you have done this, add up the score. A strongly positive score shows that an action should be taken a strongly negative score that it should be avoided.

The Force field analysis is a useful technique for looking at all the forces for and against a decision. In effect, it is a specialized method of weighing pros and cons. By carrying out the analysis you can plan to strengthen the forces supporting a decision, and reduce the impact of opposition to it. List all forces for change in one column, and all forces against change in another column. Assign a score to each force, from 1 (weak) to 5 (strong). Draw a diagram showing the forces for and against change. Show the size of each force as a number next to it. Often the most elegant solution is the first: just trying to force change through may cause its own problems. People can be uncooperative if change is forced on them.

Six thinking hats: Multi-perspective analysis Six Thinking Hats is used to look at decisions from a number of important perspectives. This forces you to move outside your habitual thinking style, and helps you to get a more rounded view of a situation. Many successful people think from a very rational, positive viewpoint. This is part of the reason that they are successful. Often, though, they may fail to look at a problem from an emotional, intuitive, creative or negative viewpoint. This can mean that they underestimate resistance to plans, fail to make creative leaps and do not make essential contingency plans. Similarly, pessimists may be excessively defensive. Emotional people may fail to look at decisions calmly and rationally. You can use Six Thinking Hats in meetings or on your own. In meetings it has the benefit of blocking the confrontations that happen when people with different thinking styles discuss the same problem. Each 'Thinking Hat' is a different style of thinking. These are explained below:

1. White Hat: With this thinking hat you focus on the data available. Look at the information you have, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and either try to fill them or take account of them. This is where you analyze past trends, and try to extrapolate from historical data.

2. Red Hat: 'Wearing' the red hat, you look at problems using reaction, and emotion. Also try to think how other people will react emotionally. Try to understand the responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.

3. Black Hat: Using black hat thinking, look at all the bad points of the decision. Look at it cautiously and defensively. Try to see why it might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan. It allows you to eliminate them, alter them, or prepare contingency plans to counter them.

4. Yellow Hat: The yellow hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.

5. Green Hat: The Green Hat stands for creativity. This is where you can develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. A whole range of creativity tools can help you here.

6. Blue Hat: 'Blue Hat Thinking' stands for process control. This is the hat worn by people chairing meetings. When running into difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking, etc.

A variant of this technique is to look at problems from the point of view of different professionals (e.g. doctors, architects, sales directors, etc.) or different customers.

Further Readings:
Adair J., Decision Making and Problem Solving, Beekman Publishing, 1997. For the expert or beginner, this is a self-learning aid, instant checklist, and an ongoing source of ideas and practical help. A pocketful of proven tips, tools, and techniques to master the organizational and people skills for efficient and effective task management.
Allais M., and O. Hagen, Cardinalism: A Fundamental Approach, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994.
Covey S., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Running Press, 2000.
De Bono E., Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management, Little Brown & Co, 1985.
Hogarth R., Judgement and Choice: The Psychology of Decision, Wiley & Sons, 1987.
Lewin K., Resolving Social Conflicts: Force Field Theory in Social Science, American Psychological Association Press, 1997.
Noone D., Creative Problem Solving, Barrons Educational Series, 1998. Another freshly formatted and updated BUSINESS SUCCESS book, this volume shows managers how to train the mind to free up its problem-solving capabilities. Advice is offered on how to lead a "brainstorming" group, stimulate thinking and help generate new ideas.
Pfeffer J., and R. Sutton, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action, Harvard Business School Press, 2000. The market for business knowledge is booming as companies looking to improve their performance pour millions of pounds into training programmes, consultants, and executive education. Why then, are there so many gaps between what firms know they should do and what they actual do? This volume confronts the challenge of turning knowledge about how to improve performance into actions that produce measurable results. The authors identify the causes of this gap and explain how to close it.
Plous S., The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, McGraw-Hill, 1993.
Proctor T., Creative Problem Solving for Managers, Routledge, 1999. This text provides an introduction to the ideas and skills of creative problem solving. It shows how and why people are blocked in their thinking, how this impairs the creative problem solving process and how creative problem solving techniques can help overcome these difficulties.
Rubin T., Overcoming Indecisiveness: The Eight Stages of Effective Decision Making, Harper & Row, 1985.
Russo J., and P. Schoemaker, Decision Traps: Ten Barriers to Brilliant Decision-Making and How to Overcome Them, Fireside Press, London, 1990.
Wickham Ph., Strategic Entrepreneurship: A Decision-making Approach to New Venture Creation and Management, Pitman, 1998.
Zukav G., The Seat of the Soul, Simon & Schuster, 1999.
Zyman S., The End of Marketing As We Know It, Harper Collins, 2000. The author demonstrates why marketing is not an art but a science.

Decisions Concerning Personal Life

Total quality begins with total personal quality, organizational empowerment begins with individual empowerment, and managing information system (MIS) means managing your life. The same decision-making process one faces in business arises in all other aspects of one's life, but they are obscured in other parts of life because they are not overlaid with as many complexities that arise in business. If you expect people who do not treat themselves well to treat the world well, you will be sorely and surely disappointed.

In Lee Iacocca's words:

Over the years, many executives have said to me with pride: "Boy, I worked so hard last year that I didn't take any vacation." I always feel like responding, "You dummy. You mean to tell me you take responsibility for an $80 million project and you can't plan two weeks out of the year to have some fun?"

Business decision-making is a simple arena of choices expressed in dollar terms, and that simplicity is the reason for discussing the decision-making process in the context of business, though it can apply elsewhere just as well. Values, ethics, means, and social complexity must enter into the decision-making process along with the monetary evaluation such as cost-and-benefit analysis.

We all know the difference between "right" and "wrong", and we can tell "good from "bad". But we also know that the more difficult decisions come when we have to choose between good and better. The toughest decisions of all are those we have to make between bad and worse.

Many people believe that predetermined destiny rather than their own decisions govern the affairs of their lives. Personal mastery teaches us to choose. Choosing is a courageous act that entails opting for various courses of actions that will define one's destiny. Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. Striving for goals (i.e., the objective of your decisions) that do not reflect your values and consequently do not make your life joyful is how we make ourselves unhappy. But if you do not know what you want, then how will you know how to achieve it? Have a very clear picture of what you want out of life and what it will take to get it. There is a popular, classic song in which a raspy female voice exclaims to her independent female audience, "use what you got.....to get what you want."

Be realistic about your abilities. When there is a way, there is a will. The opposite is not true as many people unfortunately believe and have taken as the basis for decisions concerning their personal life. Thinking about strategies to strive after that are beyond your abilities can ruin your life. If a goal is unattainable and you go after it anyway, the consequential failure may cause you pain and diminish your energy (and resources of the organization). You do best in your profession and your personal life by doing well with respect to your capacity and values rather than trying to do better than another person or organization. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it. Remember that, if you are attempting the impossible, you will fail; therefore ask what is possible for you.

He knows not his own strength that has not met challenge. When you are facing a decision, then you are sounding-out the depth of your own strengths and the richness of your resources. One is responsible for one's own life. Passivity provides no protection: One must accept responsibility for a decision before one can make any decision.

All religions, arts, philosophy, morality, and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations have pondered the search for what constitutes a good life. Yet only in the last decades has the study of well-being become a scientific endeavor. The results indicate that the goals and values of personal life are very subjective and mostly cultural. Most people spend a lifetime searching for happiness. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is that the only place they ever needed to search was within. Moreover, once a doctrine, however irrational, has gained power in a society, millions of people will believe in it rather than feel ostracized and isolated.

One must decide for oneself: Leaders and followers face different problems. The leaders have to wonder if the followers will follow them faithfully and the followers wonder if the leader will bring them to the "promised land". In essence, the leaders and the followers are slaves to each other's needs.

There are many factors that contribute to being a good decision-maker, the cardinal ones are:

  1. Self-esteem (not pride): Self-esteem is a big factor in making good decisions. Some people easily pressured into doing things by others are easily told what to do because they have very low self-esteem. Never feel sorry for yourself -- it has a deadly effect on your thinking. Recognize all problems, no matter how difficult, as opportunities for enhancement and/or affirmation of your life, and make the most of these opportunities. Creativity in making good decisions requires having a clear mind.
  2. Courage: Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared. Courage is to think for yourself. When one has low self-esteem one can be talked into doing almost anything because one depends on others too much for advice. This is all because one may not have strength and courage to listen to his/her own thoughts. There are many ways to escape from your own strategic thinking engagement. For example, have you asked yourself why you read newspapers? Could it be an escape device? As a reporter puts it "Fact that is fact every day is not news; it's truth. We report news, not truth." It may be a shock to most of us that, Thomas Jefferson said, "I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it." You ought to never try to avoid the duty of making up your mind for yourself. If you do not make decisions for yourself, others do it for you: "You're legally allowed to drink now so we figured the best thing for you was a car."

    Of all the gifts that a parent can give a child, the gift of learning to make good choices is the most valuable and long lasting. It is the nature, and the advantage, of courageous people that they can take the crucial questions and form a clear set of alternatives. The weak always have to decide between alternatives that are not their own.

    It takes education and courage to gain more self-esteem to be positive or confident in decision-making. Listen to yourself and think for yourself. This won't get you into trouble because of someone else. Courage means the act of intelligent risk taking while looking forward into the future. Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dare, as something inside them was superior to circumstance in making their decisions.

  3. Honesty: Honesty is to be the one you are. Be objective about yourself and others. It is important to identify your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Being honest with yourself is the most important thing you can ever do. When it comes to yourself, you have to be brutally honest.
  4. Love: Love means caring about yourself and other people. It means that you go to sleep at night knowing that your talents and abilities were used in making decisions that, served others. The wonderful thing about love is that it embraces, without binding.

To be honest, you must fully accept that at this moment, you can only be what you are. No more, no less; however, with the inevitable passing of each moment of time, you will gradually, but surely change -- to become more or less, better or worse, stronger or weaker. Your choice is the direction of change: it is yours alone. The only true competition is the rivalry within your changing self. It is the very basis of a good decision making.

Hard Decisions: Only you can change your life. No one can make decisions for you when it comes to serious questions, such as, What ought I to do?, What should I believe?, What can I know?, How should I live? What Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us is that the only good answers to such questions are personal and examined ones, rarely those adopted by large groups; conscious, reasoning minds should neither pray to strange Gods, nor encourage the vanities of the self. That alone can set us on the path to freedom. All the interest of your education should come together to make decisions for yourself. What is the use of education if you cannot face these questions to your own satisfaction? While you are making these decisions, you feel for the time being that your life is your own. Do not envy others, because who envies others does not obtain peace of mind. Everything starts with yourself -- with you making up your mind about what you're going to do with your life.

The more amiability and esprit de corps among the members of a policy-making in-group, the greater is the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against out groups.

Major decisions require courage. We must have courage to bet on our decisions, to take the calculated risk, and to act.

Finally, in personal decision-making there is no one better to talk to than yourself if you really want to get things worked out. No other person has as much information about your problems, and no one knows your skills and capabilities better.

Self-Realization: Maslow's work specifies that individuals have a hierarchy of needs ranging from basic needs for survival and safety to higher-level needs for esteem and self-actualization, as shown in the following figure:

of Needs Described by Maslow

  1. Physiological Needs: These are primarily biological needs. They include such things as the need for adequate nutrition, shelter, warmth and medical care.
  2. Safety Needs: After physiological needs, the second most compelling needs that individuals face are safety and security.
  3. Belongingness and Love Needs: When physiological and safety needs have been addressed, the next set of needs -- those related to belongingness, affection and love -- can emerge.
  4. Esteem Needs: If the first three needs are fulfilled, the need for esteem may become dominant. This refers both to self-esteem and to the esteem a person gets from others.
  5. Self-Actualization Needs: The highest level of needs, those that individuals are able to satisfy when all other more basic needs have been met, is the need for self-actualization. Self-actualization is a person's need to be what he/she is. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.
What does Maslow mean by his observation with respect to self-realization? My answer is: If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that everybody will have to pause and say, Here lived a great sweeper, who swept his job well.

Popular Strategies in Avoiding Personal Decisions: Decisions shape our personal lives, however decision-making can be a stressful, bewildering personal responsibility. Decidophobia is the fear of making your own decisions. The comparison and choice of goals and standards arouses the most intense decidophobia but the only way to ensure stability in the strategic thinking is to engender fear. In the past few decades, the field of decision-making has concentrated on showing the limitations of decision makers - that is, that they are not very rational or competent and their thoughts are clouded with a plethora of possibilities, variables and outcomes. In short, there is the lack of a well-focused structured decision-making process.

The following strategies or combination of them enable decidophobes to avoid making their own decisions.

Further Readings:
Baumeister R., Escaping the self: Alcoholism, Spirituality, Masochism, and Other Flights From the Burden of Selfhood, New York, Basic Books, 1991.
Bernstein P., The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession, Wiley & Sons, 2000. Presents the history of how some people obsessed, haunted by wealth. Gold had them, rather than the other way around.
Diener E., and E. Suh, (eds.), Culture and Subjective Well-Being, MIT Press, 2000.
Feeney D., Motifs: The Transformative Creation of Self, Praeger, 2001.
Freud S., Civilization and Its Discontents, J. Strachey (editor), Norton & Co., New York, 1999.
Greenberg J., Pyszczynski T., and S. Solomon, The causes and consequences of self-esteem: A terror management theory. In R. Baumeister (Ed.), Public Self and Private Self, New York, Springer-Verlag, 1986.
Kaufmann W., From Decidophobia to Autonomy: Without Guilt and Justice, A Delta Book, 1975.
Klein G. Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions, MIT Press, 1999.
Maslow A., D. Stephens, and G. Heil , Maslow on Management, Wiley, 1998.
Reichley J., The Values Connection, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001.
Reynolds V., and R. Tanner, The Social Ecology of Religion, Oxford Univ. Press, 1995.
Warren S., and A. Thompson, Dumped!: A Survival Guide for the Woman Who's Been Left by the Man She Loved, Harpercollins, 1999.

Problem of Determination of Values and Rank among Values

Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one's own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for. Which one of the following fits your value system? The major value in life is what you get, OR the major value in life is what you become.

Setting a Clear Goal: What is it you want to accomplish? Strangely enough, many decision-makers collect a set of alternatives (say cars to buy or person to marry) and then ask, "Which should I choose?" without thinking first of what their goals are, what overall objective they want to achieve. Next time you find yourself asking, "What should I do? What should I choose?" ask yourself first, "What are my goals?"

Know Your Values and Preferences: Value refers to how desirable a particular outcome is, the value of the alternative, whether in dollars, satisfaction, or other benefit. However, preference reflects the philosophy and moral hierarchy of the decision-maker. Personal values determine the preferences. Some people prefer excitement to calmness, taking too much risk to a calculable risk, efficiency to esthetics, quality to quantity, and so on.

It is not hard to make good decisions when you know what your values are. However, a question that has inspired many theories conveys the impression that the numerous theories of values and valuation are deeply heterogeneous, some being rational and some irrational, some seeing values as the mere effect of social inculcation, others the effect of emotional factors, as resentment. Moreover some theories attempt to derive values from self-interest, others from the constraints imposed by society on individuals.

Rational Choice Model: Rational theory deals with one of the major "rational" theories used today to explain norms and values: the so-called "Rational Choice Model". In the expression "Rational Choice Model" the word rational is used in an indigenous fashion, as an equivalent of "instrumentally rational." An action is "rational" in this sense if it can be held as representing objectively a good way of reaching the goal the subject is following. While its supporters see it as a potentially universally valid theory, in other words as the only one actually able to explain indistinctly all human activities, this claim seems ungrounded.

Relativistic vs. Naturalistic Theories: The interest and limits of these theory deal with the question of which values should be considered as the emanation of singular cultures and, for this reason, vary from one culture to another. These models are dominant today because they defend a relativistic view of values and treat the perception people have of the reasons as to why they endorse such and such values as illusory. Some opponents of the relativistic theories have instead a naturalistic theory of values. It takes its inspiration from sociobiology.

Axiological Rationality: Axiological rationality was studies by Weber in distinction between axiological rationality and instrumental rationality. The instrumental rationality deals with the relations between means and ends, the notion of axiological rationality introduces the idea of a non-consequential type of rationality. This idea can be presented as a sequential type of rationality rather axiological rationality. The explanation of axiological feelings is concerned with the cases where social actors act in conformity with their values.

Cognitivist Model: Cognitivist model is a generalization of the Rational Choice Model which starts from the idea that the notion of rationality has two very different meanings: The sense of the concept in economics, and the philosophy of science. It implies that some irrational people can be interpreted rationally, provided the notion of rationality is adequately defined. It is also concerned with the development of the "judicatory" or "cognitivist" theory of rationality. The cognitivist model is also applied to the analysis of the feelings of justice in an attempt to apply the judicatory theory of values to a well-circumscribed field: the feelings of justice. Philosophers, such as Rawls, propose implicitly a theory as to what people mean when they perceive a distribution of goods as fair or unfair. They are in some circumstances Kantian (that is, they tend to follow principles of universal value), while they are rather in other circumstances utilitarian (That is, they tend to follow their interest and hold principles as valid provided they can consider them as serving their interest). Concepts such as "local justice" or "bounded justice" are concerned with building a bridge between reality and theory on the feelings of justice.

The following flowchart depicts the dynamic nature of the needs and values in personal decision-making process:

Dynamic Nature of Decision-Making Process

The above chart represents the needs and values causal connections in both space and time, by bring isolated facts from two primary and secondary sources together and help us construct a coherent understanding of the external world. This conditional knowledge is acquired from experience or learned and tie a flexible and highly interrelated network of links along which reasoning is possible and which can be applied to different decision making situations.

With respect to decision-making, instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would be more accurate to say that man is the architect of circumstance. It is character, which builds an existence out of circumstance. From the same materials one man builds palaces, another hotels; one warehouses, another villas; bricks and mortar are mortar and bricks until the architect can make them something else.

As my reader noticed by now, the major problems for the scientists are the problem of determination of values and the assignment of ranks among the values.

The ultimate goal of human decisions is always the satisfaction of the acting man's desire, which is almost always "growth". There is no standard of greater or lesser satisfaction other than individual judgments of "values" and determination of "ranks" among those values. The values and their ranks are different for various people and for the same people at various times.

A potential problem is deciding the importance of the things you think about most of the time. The solution to this problem is to come-up with some criteria in evaluating the degree of the values you hold dear for achieving living well. We have to give meanings to our individual life, otherwise our lives are blank and senseless.

The first task in making private and personal decisions is to find out what the "values" are, for what? The answer is for the enhancement and affirmation of your life. Moreover, one must decide about the "ranks" among these values and their relation to the other values. The following is an ordered three-category model:

  1. Group A: This most important group includes all the things that you can do for yourself and no one else can do for you. Examples include "a good night's sleep", learning to think for yourself, and your health. As a Spanish proverb says, "A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools." You know it well that "Your health is your wealth." Remember that you will be as much value to others as you have been to yourself.

  2. Group B: The things which are yours and could not have been anybody else's. For example, your child belongs in this group.

  3. Group C: All other things. Such as your house, your job, etc.

Clearly, the question concerning what belongs to which group is highly subjective. For example, your job could become a member of group B if you like what you do and you believe no one else can do it as well as you do. Music the supreme form of all arts, for the composers belong to this group to amuse themselves in the first place. While the other forms of arts kept in the museums to amuse others too.

Further Readings:
Boudon R., The Origin of Values: Sociology and Philosophy of Beliefs, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, N.J., 2001.
Hechter M., et al., The Origin of Values, A. de Gruyter, New York , 1993.
Keeney R., Value-Focused Thinking: A Path to Creative Decision Making, Harvard University Press, 1992.
Nozick R., The Nature of Rationality, Princeton Univ. Press, 1994.
Rawls J., A Theory of Justice, Belknap Press, 1999.

Thinkable Decisions and the Economy of Strategic Thinking

What do artists do? They make models of reality that are more beautiful than reality itself in order to make our existence bearable. However, as Michelangelo once said, "A man paints with his brains and not with his hands." Moreover, a modeler of reality is an artist with constraints. A Japanese proverb says, "Thinking without action is a daydream. Action without thinking is a nightmare." Therefore, there are two kinds of failures: those who thought and never did and those who did and never thought. The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds.

Speechless thought moves over the fibers of our brain like water over the face of the deep. That we think, we know because we think. That we are, we know because we think; but what is it to think? And what is it to know that we think? What happens when you let your mind wander? When human mind has nothing specific to think about, it becomes chaotic, flitting from one thought to another in a random way. That's why thinkers are more often in a good mood while thinking than they are in their free time.

When one faces a problem, one must always ask whether the problem is thinkable. Not every idea or concept is thinkable. Moreover, every thinkable idea deserves its own duration of time in your mind.

Our senses furnish the mind only with materials of information; it is our thinking that converts information we receive to our useful knowledge for decision making. Decision-making is described as the economy of thinking. There are six steps that must be considered in making a good decision. The steps are as follows:

  1. Is it thinkable? Is your problem thinkable?
  2. Is it my business? Is it really necessary for you to think about it? It seems like one of the hardest lessons to be learned in life is where your business ends and somebody else's begins. The moment a question comes to your mind, see yourself mentally taking hold of it and disposing of it. In that moment is your choice made. You learn to become the decider and not the vacillator.
  3. Do you have enough explicit information to start your strategic thinking? Information can be classified as explicit and tacit forms. The explicit information can be explained in structured form, while tacit information is inconsistent and fuzzy to explain. A good thinking resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.
  4. How long should I think about it? The key is in not "spending" time, but in "investing" it. Thinking does not stay in some minds very long because unfortunately they do not like solitary confinement that is needed.

    Decision does not just happen; it takes reflection and thought. Reflection time must be built into the decision process allowing ample time to ponder and rethink. For many people, unfortunately, the expectation that responding immediately is far more important than responding thoughtfully for many.

  5. Implementation - taking action. Thinking without action is daydreaming. To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.
  6. Monitoring my action. Since everything changes, to be in control of my problem I have to adapt and update my thinking. The art of life is a constant readjustment to our situation.

Following the above thinking process with its many loops, then it is very likely that good ideas spring into being in response to your analytical probing. This analytical thinking is the most powerful tool for the mind. Without this, recurrence relation will keep coming back to your mind to haunt you.

Mind maintains, and holds whatever has been put on it during the last few minutes. It holds and works on it, unless we replace by something new. Therefore, in order not to think about what is not worthy one must start thinking about something else immediately. That is the hygiene for the mind.

The crux is noticed in Alices' Adventures in Wonderland: " ' How am I to get in?' asked Alice again, in a louder tone. 'Are you to get in at all?' said the Footman, 'That's the first question, you know.' "

Remember that most people waste most of their time every day majoring in minors. Time is of no account with great thoughts. Obviously, the basic problem is this: Law firms, which bill by the hour, are more profitable when less efficient. As Goethe said, "Things, which matter most, must never be at the mercy of things which matter least." Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.

If you work on a nonexistent problem there are much fewer obstacles to overcome. To accomplish something noteworthy, we should look to do something worth the effort unless we are trying to relax. In times of leisure, nonexistent problems usually need to be sought out!

Here is an example of an unthinkable question/problem. Is there an after life? This question is not thinkable. You must think about it as much as you think about "life before life." We can ask primal questions, but we can never stand near the beginning or the end.

In other cases, the questions are thinkable, however, one "wishes" not even raise any doubt about them that invoke strategic thinking. These cases include, e.g., our deepest beliefs. And in many cases, one even deliberately changes the perception of the problem in order that it suits ones preconceived desirable decision. This is unfortunate, but people lie much more to themselves than to others.

I studied the lives of relatively great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work.

On the duration of the strategic thinking, Albert Einstein said, "I think and think for months and years, ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right. It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."

As a general rule for strategic thinking, if you cannot describe in writing to be understood by someone else about your decision problem and what you are doing as a process about it, then you do not know what you are doing. The best place to make a decision is on paper.

Being able to control the thought process is the hardest of all, and it takes discipline and training. One must develop the ability to engage in a consecutive, and a well-focused strategic thinking for a predetermined limited time in order produce a solution to a given well defined problem. It is not that things will necessarily go wrong (Murphy's Law), but rather that they will take so much more time and effort than you think, if they are not to. The cardinal aim is to uncover the underlying logical structure of the decision problem by means of a mathematical model. All branches of human knowledge are moving towards scientific representation. These include all the --logy subjects, such as sociology, and psychology, etc., usually being taught at our liberal art and humanity colleges. Nowadays, one expects a deeper understanding from studying sociometric, psychometric, and econometric, etc.

Students often ask me if, as a thinker, I was rational or creative. Left-brained or right-brained. I consider it, and ask in reply, do I have to choose? Is it possible to be both? I did not think I could afford to discriminate. You want to be good at designing a good solution strategy, and you need all the brainpower I had available.

Well-focused strategic decision-making is the act of simultaneous thinking. However, there is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.

Remember that:
Birds fly; when they get tired, they land.
Man thinks; when he gets tired, he says "I understand."

Philosophy of Creation: The fundamental project in life is engaging with the central idea that being strives for creativity . There are various ways in which being affirms the unlimited creative power. Moreover it dissolves whatever might restrict or mediate its expression, including the organisms, objects, representations, identities, and relations that this power generates along the way.

Thinking could be dangerous: The following metaphor illustrates how in some cases people prefer to not think for fear of being disappointed, adhering to the saying that "ignorance is bliss". There was a boy who lived his whole life on an iceberg. One day, he wondered what could be under the ice. He decided to dig in to find out for himself. To his greatest disappointment he discovered that he was actually living on water. From that day on, he never felt comfortable living on the iceberg and he wished he had not asked himself that question.

Mastering your fears: The major obstacle that stops people from making their own decisions is fear of making wrong decision.

When one has fear there are two primary reactions: facing the problem courageously or avoiding any commitments. However, since one has a powerful ability to analyze and understand, one can overcome the fear by self-psychoanalysis techniques to cope with the flight instinct.

Top business performers have developed a multiple-step approach to conquering their fears. First, ask yourself a few important questions. Try to identify what you actually fear. Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen if you fail. Most of the time in business, it's either a fear of loss or a fear of embarrassment. Next, identify what you could gain if the task or strategy works out well. This positive vision helps overshadow the negative fear. Last, ask yourself what the price is to you and to others if you do not overcome this fear

There are two types of people: those who try, stumble and get up and try again, and those who fear stumbling and never even try. Guess which type is more successful.

Our stomach is wiser than our brain: When one eats too much, the stomach rejects it by throwing up. However, the brain has no such mechanism. While mind controls the body, unfortunately, it is unable to control or give order to itself. The main cause for this is our habits, which are the centers of the gravity of the mind. Habits are weighing our mind down and therefore they are shortcuts that become comfortable means to avoid thinking.

Process of thinking for yourself : Thinking for yourself has been valued ever since ancient time:

"If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself."
--- Confucius   

The critical thinking techniques enable us to evaluate arguments and question the quality of the reasoning that leads to a certain conclusion. Too often we accept what we see and hear, becoming passive absorbers of information rather than critical listeners or readers. We must guard our mind against adapting a belief as our own before examining the validity of arguments for or against. We should ask questions in order to reach our own personal opinion or decision including:

Unfortunately, pure uncritical thinking enables us to absorb a great deal of information and provides a foundation for more complex thinking at some future time. However, it is a passive exercise and, therefore, does not require an exhaustive mental effort, just concentration and memory skills. Clearly, this approach does not provide us with a method for discerning the facts, which could have serious consequences. Moreover, I am always fascinated by the way memory diffuses facts.

On the other extreme is the interactive approach to thinking that requires a "question-asking attitude" to determine the value of what is read and heard. If we are capable of thinking for ourselves, then the rewards are considerable and allows us to critically evaluate and then form personal opinions based on that evaluation of what makes sense and what is non-sense. We must also be aware that we bring our own personal experiences and values into the process and must not allow emotional involvement to taint our ability to think in an open-minded manner.

Further Readings:
Browne M., and S. Keeley, Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, Prentice Hall, 2000.
Gilbert K., and H. Kuhn, A History of Esthetics, Dover, New York, 1972.
Gigerenzer G., Adaptive Thinking: Rationality in the Real World, Oxford University Press, 2000.
Harel D., D. Kozen, and J. Tiuryn, Dynamic Logic, MIT Press, 2000. Among the many approaches to formal reasoning the dynamic logic has had the strongest impact on formal theories of knowledge.
Kim J., Supervenience and Mind, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993.
Sanitt N., Science As a Questioning Process, Inst. of Physics Pub., 1996. The author considers the connections and interplay of various scientific disciplines as well as their influencing a man and thinking about where we are and where to go.
Snell B., The Discovery of the Mind: In Greek Philosophy and Literature, Dover Pub., 1982.

What Is Man?

What is mind?       No matter.
What is matter?        Never mind!
- - Homer                            

The many debates over mind and matter cover much of the history of human thoughts. The main engaging question, prior to the age of Enlightenment was how a nonphysical (i.e., mind) causes a physical (e.g., movements)?

Both Spinoza and Freud among others, worked on the unity of mind and body together with their interaction with nature and society. The following chart depicts the psych-analysis of Freud and Spinoza hybrid model:

Unity of Mind and Body

Spinoza was the first to question the concept of mind-and-body, i.e., physical and nonphysical duality dominated humanity for over twenty centuries. He recognized that there is no such separation, but a manifestation of two different moods of the same thing. For example, when you have sufficient physical energy, then your mind registers it as feeling joyful. Anybody old enough has physical scars from all sorts of things. It is the same with the mind.

In the above chart, the interaction of humankind with nature, society, and self are depicted inside the triangle.

Humankind and Nature: Genetic engineering has shown how it is possible to splice genes from one animal to another and not just animals. So, are humans really that unique? And even if they are not, are they that special?

When one talks about humankind it is often with a tendency to separate man from the rest of animals. However, in reality there no such separation, the man is wholly nature not a kingdom within a kingdom. Humankind is not the crown and the hidden purpose of evolution.

According to the primatology, which has mounted ever more convincing bodies of evidence that there is really nothing special or unique about the human at all, that almost everything that you care to name is, to some degree or another, performed by other primates; it is all a matter of degree. And so, rather than distinct categories primatologists would rather have shifting shades of gray in the primate world and extend the term homo to a much broader population.

Nature of the Man: Man has no nature, but he has history. In man the creature and the creator are one. While man is still undetermined animal, he is the strongest of all animals.

What Nietzsche realized was that man must understand that life is not governed by rational principles. Life is full of cruelty, injustice, uncertainty and absurdity. There are no absolute standards of good and evil which can be demonstrated by human Reason. There is only naked man living alone in a godless and absurd world. Modern industrial, bourgeois society made man decadent and feeble because it made man a victim of the excessive development of the rational faculties at the expense of human will and instinct.

The task is to rediscover beneath all flattering colors and make-up the frightful fixed-text homo natura, which means: To translate man back into nature; to become master over the many vain and overly enthusiastic interpretations and connotations that have so far been scrawled and painted over that eternal basic text of homo natura. To bring it about that man shall henceforth stand before man as he now, hardened by the discipline of science, stands before the other forms of nature. He is, in truth, anything but the crown of creation: beside him stand many other animals, all at similar stages of development

Humankind and Society: When man found himself bounded within the wall of society, all his instinct had to be broken to be replaced by the social norms. However, not all the instinct gave up their demand easily. The two most pervasive of all are: Anger, and Reproduction. Man derives the highest pleasure from sexual fulfillment, says Freud, but unconstrained sexuality drains the individual of psychic energy needed for a creative and intellectual life. Hence, it was society, working through the family, the priest, the teacher and the police, who imposes rules and restricts our animal nature which, because it is animal, demands release. Such an existence is painful and so causes anxiety and frustration. But the violation of the rules of civilization also gives us guilt. Either way, we suffer torment and pain. Civilized life simply entails too much pain for people. It seemed, for Freud, that the price we pay for civilization is neuroses. Man has to find some sublimated means of satisfying the instinct. For example, our sexual fulfillment is allowed by means of engaging in e.g., "Passionate-dancing", which is accompanied by the feeling and imagination of making love in bed but vertically. There are many other "acceptable means" for sexual fulfillment, such as sexual virtual-reality as a substitute for the real-reality.

Humankind and the Self: We are particularly interested in the relation between anthropology and psychology. The difficulty of the Anthropology is how to articulate an analysis of what Homo Natura is on the basis of a definition of man as subject of liberty. More specifically, in its pragmatic character, the Anthropology aims to study what man makes of himself. So the realm of its investigation will neither be morality, metaphysics, nor the society, but what makes man, -- or what he can and should do of himself. Foucault observed that even though the anthropology posits man neither as homo natura nor as subject of freedom, but rather as he is given within the already operating syntheses of his relation with the world, i.e. as a citizen of the world, he/she then goes on to understand the dynamic of the inner sense.

Nature proceeds throughout the whole infinite series of its possible determinations without outward incentive; and the succession of these changes is not arbitrary, but follows strict and unalterable laws. Whatever exists in Nature necessarily exists as it is. Nature's relation to human beings is neutral while human's relation to nature is very complex process and yet undetermined. Consider for example in the animal kingdom, all creatures are striving to eat, survive, and reproduce. However, when it comes to man, he wonders and hopelessly looking for hidden purpose "as if" nature has a purpose.

The following table contains the main instinctive drives constituting the wild animals’ life and the main personal and social decisions concerning humans’ life:

Instinctive Drives in Animals’ Life
Decisions Concerning Humans’ Life
To Survive
To Live ON, How?
To Eat
To Live WITH, Whom?
To Reproduce
To Live FOR, What?

A Distinction: Human has choices but not animal. This fact is, captured by artists, e.g., in The Animals in War Memorial, which is situated at London's Hyde Park. This sculpture by David Backhouse depicts all the animals that have been used by troops in wartime, from horses and mules to dogs, elephants, camels, canaries and even glowworms. Why not mourn enemy animals, too?

Click on the imageto enlarge it.
Animals in War: They Had No Choice

Further Readings:
Fernandez-Armesto F., Humankind: A Brief History, Oxford University Press, 2004.
Freud S., Civilization and its Discontents, trans. and ed., James Strachey, W.W. Norton, New York, 1961
Mulhauser G., Mind out of Matter: Topics in the Physical Foundations of Consciousness and Cognition, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998. An answer to the question: What I am? is given as: The self as a dynamic data structure implemented within a cognitive framework by a functional system.
Schrodinger E., What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell and Mind and Matter, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992.

How the Mind Works: From Deciding to Action

What is mind?       No matter.
What is matter?        Never mind!
- - Homer                            

The many debates over mind and matter cover much of the history of human thoughts. The main engaging question, prior to the age of Enlightenment was how a nonphysical (i.e., mind) causes a physical (e.g., movements)?

Behavioral and Brain Sciences: It is a fact that humankind use crude information, such as colors, sounds, etc., in the environment in order to behave in a certain way. When forms of energy we call "stimuli" impinge on us our response begins. Creating an inner copy of the information, which is a representation of reality, does this. However this representation is at the service of the "will" in determining our behavior.

In recent years there have been more interesting studies on the static geometry, i.e., the anatomy of the brain, leading to important testable predictions. However, the valuable progress in the brain/mind problem should be a comparative study in discovering relations between the physical dynamical structures generated by brain activity and the mental/conceptual structures. This includes the topology of subjective time and its alterations in psychopathology.

The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells. The portion of the brain responsible for thought and memory consists primarily of nerve cells, or neurons. Each neuron has three parts, dendrites (inputs), a cell body, and an axon (output) as shown below:

Neurons Are Responsible for Thought and Memory
Neurons Are Responsible for Thought and Memory

The dendrites connect to the axons of other neurons. When these other neurons are stimulated, the dendrites convey the signal to the cell body via a synapse or connection, which either excites or inhibits the neuron with a different strength for each synapse:

A Snapshot of a Synapse
A Snapshot of a Synapse

When the excitation sufficiently outweighs inhibition, the neuron "fires". This sends a signal down its axon, which in turn excites or inhibits other neurons, and perhaps causes a muscle to move.

For at least three reasons, we are interested in knowing how our mind works:

  1. Better decisions are made by knowing the mechanism of our mind.
  2. Happiness or unhappiness are the states of mind.
  3. A better understanding of the mind can lead to setting new priorities as to what is taught/learned.

Mind is what your brain does consciously, recall the often used phrases such as: never mind!, mind the gap, or mind your own business. A strategic thinking process is a neural network process inside our brains through many functional layers. The following figure depicts the brain and mind functionality:

Chains of Thought

The focal point of practical reasoning is action, as the focal point of empirical reasoning is observation. Perceptual takings or 'judgments' are the thoughts which typically arise from the impact of the world on our mind through our sensory capacities.

Consciousness thinking is self-knowledge, that is, knowing what you know. Moreover, the process of becoming conscious distributes what you know throughout your brain via the brain neural network branches, i.e., chains of thought. Unlike the connectivity between only two nodes of the network (what we call memorizing), the availability, and therefore expansion, of what you know throughout your neural network branches makes the information processing of your brain accurate. Thus, you possess a reflective, brilliant mental model of reality. However, one must be cautioned that the way we choose to see the world (i.e., modeling) creates the world we see.

It is necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, and your knowledge into a mental model. Your duty is whether the model is true or false, whether it represents reality rationally. Unfortunately, it might be a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew.

Human beings are basically electrochemically driven membrane processes. We take in oxidant and fuel, we change the form of it, things move through membranes, and we oxygenate our blood - that's how nature works.

Neural connections, shown as the functional layers in the above figure, are formed in the brain at very early times in development, and at first they are present in an immature pattern of wiring that only grossly approximates the adult precision. In order for the adult pattern of connections to form, neural function is necessary. The adult brain consists of about 1 trillion (1012)-nerve cells, each connected to at least 20,000 other cells. The possible combinations are greater than the number of molecules in the known universe. Each neuron makes a very stereotyped set of connections with specific partner neurons. Unlike common belief that our mind works like a computer, a useful analogy is to think of nerve cells as rather like a telephone system. Our brains employ a mixture of chemical and electrical signals to send and receive phone calls within the brain. Each nerve cell sends a long process, an axon-like a phone line- to connect itself to other cells that can be located the equivalent of hundreds of miles away. The brain contains well over 1,000 trillion connections.

Learning can be defined as: The process of connectivity of the nodes within your neural network of the brain. The mind is like the stomach. It's not how much you put into it, but how much it digests. Knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns. During brain connectivity development (i.e., education), all these connections have to be formed from scratch-nerve cells are made in different places in the brain by undergoing many successive cell divisions. Then each cell has to spin out its long process towards the appropriate target neurons.

The process is much like stringing phone lines from one city to another-between New York and Philadelphia, for instance. First, trunk lines between the two cities must be laid down. Then, phones at specific addresses within each city need to be wired so that when a specific phone number is dialed, only that phone rings and not the wrong numbers.

The brain first sets down a basic framework of circuits-rather like trunk lines according to strict circuit diagrams determined by a genetic blueprint. Then, long before the adult precise circuits are formed, the "switch" is turned on: brain function itself completes the wiring process by running test patterns on the circuits, thereby selecting correct connections and eliminating errors. Using the phone analogy, it is as if, once the trunk lines are strung between two cities, the first set of phone calls to be placed cause many phones to ring because many connections, including the correct ones, are formed initially. Then, a process of error-correction occurs, in which phoning it eliminates the incorrect connections and strengthens the correct ones.

Special early cell types in the brain place these molecules in specific combinations and locations, and they are sensed molecularly by the growing axon tips of "pioneer" neurons as they spin out the first connections. Once these early connections are formed, neural function begins and neurons signal to each other by sending chemical-electrical signals over their long distance connections. In the phoning process itself, the frequent use of connections strengthens them with rewards of special nerve growth factors and other signaling molecules. The inappropriate use of wrong connections causes their elimination. It is in this second phase of wiring where experience of the world can have a profound influence on the selection and maintenance of connections.

This observation forms the basis for the classic model of the critical period for brain development. Because different parts of the brain mature at different rates and times, neuroscientists believe there are different critical periods for different functions. A challenge for the future is to learn exactly what those periods are in terms of the specific development of brain circuits, for instance, for language acquisition, or reading.

An initial activity-independent step in which the basic framework of connections is constructed strictly according to the genetic blueprint, followed by a step in which brain function selects and refines from a wealth of possible connections. This second step is a prolonged period that experience can profoundly influence the important details of brain circuitry.

There are just not enough genes to account for the incredible precision of connectivity present in the adult brains (over 1,000 trillion connections). An elegant solution is to "hard wire" the trunk lines with specific molecular guidance clues, but then flip the switch to "on" early and let neural function make the final decisions. And this flexibility in final decision- making, after all, is what lets us adapt to our environment. For example, the brain does not know if it is going to have to learn English, Spanish, or Japanese after birth. An elegant solution to the wiring problem is to establish the fundamental framework of language circuitry using strict molecular mechanisms and then sculpt out the details depending on specific experiences after birth. Without this superb flexibility, we could not learn or remember or adapt to our environment-in short, those properties that make us uniquely human.

Not much useful theory has been developed to explain how "reason for decision" and "cause for action" are related. A primary reason for this lack of knowledge is that reason for decision is treated as a multi-faceted and rich construct, while cause for action is an external manifestation which is subject to interpretation.

Categorization Process of the Memory: Categorization is the cognitive process by which distinct entities are treated as equivalent. It allows us to understand and make predictions about objects and events in our world. The categorization process is based on criteria to group together entities in the same category. These criteria include perceptual or structural similarity, and the commonalties of their elements that provide homogeneity about the entities that belong to them.

The categorization of objects and concepts facilitate a common goal and serve the similar function. As we deepen our understanding of the external world, the representation of concepts and objects changes. Therefore, the categorization process is intimately tied to our new criteria, and the context in which the entities influence the way they are classified.

Persistence of a Model: Mind retains a thought process of a model of an external world for limited duration, unless a new thought replaces it. For example, when someone is talking to you, his/her voice echos in your mind, till you replace it with new thought. It is evident that the mind retains vision for a split second. This accounts for the fact that when a motion picture flashes a series of progressive images, instead of the mind seeing the flashing of a series of images, it sees the illusion of motion.

Motivation in Making Decisions: The mind is generally unwilling to allocate energy to decisions whose value it is not convinced. The unspoken and even unconscious questions "what is it good for?" and "will I be able to do that?" can frequently stymie our efforts to take in a decision.

Information versus Knowledge: Information is a commodity capable of yielding knowledge. Knowledge is information-produced by self. Information possesses a meaning which can only be interpreted in the light of knowledge. Purposeful action is based, not on information, but on knowledge. There are two types of knowledge: knowing that, and know how. We all know that 12X12 = 144. "Knowing how" is more critical since it captures "knowledge about" rather than "knowledge of" which belongs to memory. "Knowing how" requires systematic study and reflection, judgement, proposition, testing, and its integration with some other relevant forms of know-how. "Knowing how" is an ultimate source of strategic advantage within the organizational systems of the firm. Simply knowing how is not enough, because there might be other ways of achieving the same goal. For example, Nissan's plants in Japan, Mexico and the US use different mixes of technology and labor to create the same cars with almost similar overall productivity.

Knowledge base which is a set of facts and rules (such as, if-then-else) obtained from experience and stored in our memory. Knowledge isn't how much you have committed to memory. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't. It's the correct connectivity of the brain neural networks and how wide these networks are.

As we age, we use different parts of the brain for memory tasks. Recent studies have found that older adults use their frontal cortex for simple short-term memory tasks. Younger people use that area for complex short-term memory tasks. Older adults also activate both hemispheres for spatial memory; younger people use the left hemisphere.

Inference is a part of neural network of our brains that analyzes available data and the facts and rules stored in the knowledge base of the brain.

Understanding is the integrated mind that is able to span the relevant functional areas across the brain by the neural network connectivity. What is it indeed that gives us the feeling of elegance in understanding? It is the harmony of the diverse parts, their symmetry, their happy balance; in a word it is all that introduces order, all that gives unity, that permits us to see clearly and to comprehend at once both the ensemble and the details.

Non-sensory experiences represent almost all context information in consciousness. They condition most aspects of conscious cognition including voluntary retrieval, perception, monitoring, problem solving, emotion, and evaluation, meaning recognition. Many peculiar aspects of non-sensory qualitative context that resist being 'grasped' by an act of attention, are explained as adaptations shaped by the cognitive functions they serve. The most important non-sensory experience is coherence or "rightness." Rightness represents degrees of context fit among contents in consciousness, and between conscious and non-conscious processes. Rightness (not familiarity) is the feeling-of-knowing in implicit cognition. The experience of rightness suggests that neural mechanisms "compute" signals indicating the global dynamics of the neural network integration.

Understanding is the ability to give meaning. In other words, understanding is possible only by an anticipation of meaning which it constitutes interconnectivity of a specific and limited neural networks. The interconnectivity exhausts itself to a resourceful finite thought called understanding. This implies that, if it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.

Consecutive strategic thinking is a process which does not allow you to go out of the boundary of the subject of your thought. This focusing process should be taught at an early education. For example, a student in the class can be called upon to talk for five minutes about his/her uncle, when he/she goes out of the boundary and talks about uncles' neighbor for too long the class will shout "you are out of focus"

Focusing on one-thing-at-a-time The prefrontal cortex and other key areas of the brain handle tasks like a browser. When doing two things, those parts of the brain repeatedly switch from one task to another. Therefore, it's better to do one thing at a time rather than three things at once. Otherwise, your lost time when moving from one task to another increases even more with the complexity of the problem. Since activating the rules for each task takes several tenths of a second, therefore multitasking, in the end, takes more time than doing one thing at a time.

Why do we need to analyze? We need analysis because our minds think about specific and limited ways, one thing at a time. Then, after the analysis process, we synthesize what belongs together to see the whole or to solve the problem. There are different moods of knowledge such as: symbolic knowledge, declarative knowledge, representation, and procedural knowledge. For example, symbolic knowledge is needed for development of mathematical and statistical thinking.

Experiences and feelings are inherently conscious states. There is something it is like to feel pain, to have an itch, to experience bright red. Philosophers call this sort of consciousness "phenomenal consciousness." Even though phenomenal consciousness seems to be a relatively primitive matter, something more widespread in nature than higher-order or reflective consciousness, it is deeply puzzling.

Why are people different? We are all different because we all have different history. Thoughts and emotions give us a sense of continuity, our identities, create our conscious selves, our personalities which are not "localized" components of the brain, but are a function of the organism's life-history, cumulative experience, the totality of memories stored, recollected, analyzed, modified, and retained in the physical configurations of the network-connectivity in the brain.

Experience includes the collection of all the mistakes we have made in the past. Recently, a manager was asked if he was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, the manager replied, "I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience."

Roots of decision-making: The West was born 500 years ago when Europe broke free of the centralized control of the Roman Catholic Church. Self and consciousness has diverse perspectives, including, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, and Media Studies, etc. The active topics relevant to decision making in these areas are:

Perception of color, sounds and their physical reality: We see colors for a purpose and the act of seeing is part of what the later Wittgenstein called a language game. For instance, a good apple is an edible color, so it is wrong to reduce colors to waves, as their function is much wider. The same applies to sounds and airwaves; the growl of a bear is not really airwaves in the wider context of danger. Because they serve a functional purpose, sensible images cannot be reduced to isolated scientific facts but exist in their own right as primaries. Their perception is usually right because of evolution, whether we consider colors as wavelengths, or photon's states energy. The brain's perceived image and sound are a construct put together according to what we "expect" to see or hear.

Deciding among Models: Suppose you decide to use a model for a particular process for making concrete decisions about your own life and those of others, who may be affected, directly or indirectly, by your decisions, that is the ultimate reason why we have models? We create some models de novo from our own experience, but most we learn from external sources, including formal education.

Now, supposing one is presented with two apparently competing models of a process. One of them (A) has more objective evidence for its validity in the form of scientifically controlled studies, ability to be mathematically confirmed, reliable historical documentation, endorsement by experts in the field, and so forth. The other (B) is untested and perhaps un-testable, and is endorsed by people with less impressive pedigrees. However, based on your limited experience, applying model B in cases where the two differ in their recommendations produces a better result.

Further Readings:
Chalmers D., The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Oxford University Press, 1996.
Dauer F., Critical Thinking: An Introduction to Reasoning, Oxford University Press, 1989.
Evans J., and D. Over, Rationality and Reasoning, Hove, Psychology Press, 1996.
Gardenförs P., Conceptual Spaces: The Geometry of Thought, MIT Press, 1999.
Guttenplan S., Mind's Landscape: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, Blackwell Pub., London, 2000.
Garnham A., and J. Oakhill, Thinking and Reasoning, Blackwell, 1994.
Harman G., Change in View: Principles of Reasoning, MIT Press, 1986.
Manktelow K., Reasoning and Thinking, Psychology Press, UK, 1999.
Nancy J-L., The Gravity of Thought, Humanities Press, N.J., 1997.
Rips L., The Psychology of Proof: Deductive Reasoning in Human Thinking, MIT Press, 1994.
Schum D., The Evidential Foundations of Probabilistic Reasoning, Wiley, 1994.
Turner R., Adaptive Reasoning for Real-world Problems: A Schema-based Approach, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Northvale, NJ, 1994.

How to Distinguish among Rumor, Belief, Opinion, and Fact

As a necessity the human rational strategic thinking has evolved to cope with his/her environment. The rational strategic thinking which we call reasoning is another means to make the world calculable, predictable, and more manageable for the utilitarian purposes. In constructing a model of reality, factual information is therefore needed to initiate any rational strategic thinking in the form of reasoning. However, we should not confuse facts with beliefs, opinions, or rumors. The following table helps to clarify the distinctions:

Rumor, Belief, Opinion, and Fact
Rumor Belief Opinion Fact
One says to oneself I need to use it anyway This is the truth. I'm right This is my view This is a fact
One says to others It could be true. You know! You're wrong That is yours I can explain it to you

Beliefs are defined as someone's own understanding. In belief, "I am" always right and "you" are wrong. There is nothing that can be done to convince the person that what they believe is wrong.
With respect to belief, Henri Poincaré said, "Doubt everything or believe everything: these are two equally convenient strategies. With either, we dispense with the need to think." Believing means not wanting to know what is fact. Human beings are most apt to believe what they least understand. Therefore, you may rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so.

Religion is the most widely debated and least agreed upon phenomenon of human history. The history of humanity is filled with unsettling normative perspectives reflected in, for example, inquisitions, witch hunts, denunciations, and brainwashing techniques. The "sacred beliefs" are not only within religion, but also within ideologies, and could even include science. In much the same way that Thomas Kuhn observed that scientists trying to "save the theory." For example, the Freudian treatment is a kind of brainwashing by the therapist where the patient is in a suggestive mood completely and religiously believing in whatever the therapist is making of him/her and blaming himself/herself in all cases. The use of religion, psychoanalysis, or the mass media, as instruments by which people are helped to adjust to a dehumanizing social order without being challenged to change it, is essentially a betrayal of man.

There is this huge lumbering momentum from the Cold War where thinking is still not appreciated. Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known. For example, many people do not believe the official spokesman from the government, however, they trust "an unidentified source". The fact of the matter is that there is no hip world and there is no straight world. There's a world, you see, which has people in it that believes in a variety of different things. Everybody believes in something and everybody, by virtue of the fact that they believe in something, uses that something to support their own existence.

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.

Whoever believes in something will have an ever lasting-life. The cultural history is littered with discarded belief-models. However, this does not mean that someone who didn't understand what was going on invented the model nor had no utility or practical value. The main idea was the cultural values of any wrong model. The falseness of a belief is not necessarily an objection to a belief. The question is, to what extent is it life-promoting, and life enhancing for the believer? As an example, to attain happiness in another world we need only to believe something, while to secure it in this world we must make good decisions.

The natural right authorizes a person to do to others anything that does not in itself diminish what is theirs, so long as they do not want to accept it – such things as merely communicating his thoughts to them, telling or promising them something, whether what he says is true and sincere or untrue and insincere; for it is entirely up to them whether they want to believe him or not. As Stoic philosophy teaches us: It is beyond our control whether others choose to insult us or offend us in some way, but it is always in our control whether we choose to be insulted or offended. If we want to remain eudaimon and tranquil, it would be wise not to be easily insulted or offended.

Opinions (or feelings) are slightly less extreme than beliefs, however, they are dogmatic. An opinion means that a person has certain views that they think are right. Also, they know that others are entitled to their own opinions. People respect others' opinions and in turn expect the same. In forming one's opinion, the empirical observations are obviously strongly affected by attitude and perception. However, opinions that are well rooted should grow and change like a healthy tree. Fact is the only instructional material that can be presented in an entirely non-dogmatic way. Everyone has a right to his/her own opinion, but no one has a right to be wrong in his/her facts.

Opinions have vested interests just as everyone has. Public opinion is often a sort of religion, with the majority as its prophet. Moreover, the prophet has a short memory and does not provide consistent opinions over time.

An opinion, right or wrong can never constitute an offense, nor in itself an obligation. It may be mistaken, involve an absurdity, or be a contradiction. It is a truth or it is an error but it can never be a crime, or a virtue.

Rumors and gossip are even weaker than opinion. Now the question is who will believe these? For example, rumors and gossip about a person are those when you hear something you like, about someone you do not. Here is an example you might be familiar with: Why is there no Nobel Prize for mathematics? It is the opinion of many that Alfred Nobel caught his wife in an amorous situation with Mittag-Leffler, the foremost Swedish mathematician at the time. Therefore, Nobel was afraid that if he were to establish a mathematics prize, the first to get it would be M-L. The story persists, no matter how often one repeats the plain fact that Nobel was not married.

It is curious how much more interest can be evoked by a mixture of gossip, belief, and opinion than by facts.

To understand the difference between feeling and strategic thinking, consider carefully the following true statement: He that thinks himself the happiest man really is so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool. Most people do not ask for facts in making up their decisions. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts. This does not mean that you should not feel anything. Notice your feelings. But do not think with them.

Facts are different than beliefs, rumors, and opinions. Facts are the basis of decisions. A fact is something that is right and one can prove to be true based on evidence and logical arguments. A fact can be used to convince yourself, your friends, and your enemies. Facts are always subject to change. Data becomes information when it becomes relevant to your decision problem. Information becomes fact when the data can support it. Fact becomes knowledge when it is used in the successful completion of a structured decision process. However, a fact becomes an opinion if it allows for different interpretations, i.e., different perspectives. Note that what happened in the past is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about, what happened (i.e., a model).

Science and religion are profoundly different. Religion asks us to believe without question, even (or especially) in the absence of hard evidence. Indeed, this is essential for having a faith. Science asks us to take nothing on faith, to be wary of our penchant for self-deception, to reject anecdotal evidence. Science considers deep but healthy skepticism a prime feature. One of the reasons for its success is that science has built-in, error-correcting machinery at its very heart.

Learn how to approach information critically and discriminate in a principled way between beliefs, opinions, and facts. Critical thinking is needed to produce well-reasoned representation of reality in your modeling process. Analytical thinking demands clarity, consistency, evidence, and above all, a consecutive, focused-thinking.

Examples of belief, opinion, and facts can be found in religions, economics, and econophysics, respectively.

Management Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a useful science for the manager than a heap of stones is a house. To meet the the essence for communication, judgment, and persuasion of knowledge, your model must include, among others:

For example, in order to rule out alternative explanations, you first need to know what your client would think of as plausible explanations (models). This means, you must get "subjective" with your clients and encourage them to provide their best shot at causal explanations before you build your model. And it means you also have to think very hard about what a harsh critic of your model will say -- what alternative explanations they could use to discredit your efforts.

You score big if your model explains, and, even more dramatically, if it predicts, something that their formulations do not. You also score big if, with the deeper understanding provided by your model, it becomes evident that their explanation does not work.

Consciousness and the Mind: Contrary to philosophical tradition, modern theorists of the mind have often downplayed the importance of consciousness. Instead, they have accounted for the mind in terms of phenomena like mechanisms, dispositions, abilities and even environmental features. One of many inspirations for this trend is that a variety of specific mental phenomena, like searching, comparing, understanding and reading are involved. These cases may exemplify any of the phenomena at issue without being in any particular type of conscious state however; consciousness may be a more important aspect of the mind than is supposed. In order to understand consciousness one would benefit from developing a more eclectic intellectual style. Consciousness is, as proposed by almost everyone except the reductionists, a truly mysterious concept. Its study and dissection merits a multidisciplinary approach. Waving this multidisciplinary flag has positively enlarged the discussion and neurologists, psychiatrists, mathematicians, and so on, have moved to the philosophy of mind arena, first with caution and now with a more powerful voice.

Identifying what we mean by consciousness is a first step and the link between consciousness and some other mental activity, e.g., awareness, memory, executive functioning, etc., is a logical step. Knowledge has four necessary conditions: It must be justifiable, It must be true, It must be believable, and It must rules out counter-examples

Conclusions: Thinking while attempting to find a model, i.e., to describe a domain of familiar objects behaving in familiar ways such that we can see how the phenomena to be explained would arise if they consisted of this sort of thing. Such a model is accompanied by a commentary, which qualifies or limits the analogy between the domain of familiar objects and those being posted by the thinking. The commentary distinguishes, in effect, between those aspects of the model that actually represent some aspect of the phenomena being modeled and those aspects of the model that are simply artifacts of the modeling process itself. This sense of model is mental model accounts of thinking in psychology or cognitive anthropology.

By definition, a lie is a dishonestly made statement. It is a willful misrepresentation, in one's statement, of one's beliefs. Both a truthful person and a liar could hold false beliefs. We should not uncritically regard an untruthfully made statement as an untrue statement, or a truthfully made statement as a true statement. The only instance when a lie is necessarily false is when the liar's corresponding belief that was distorted was true. In other instances, the lie could be either true or false. Therefore, a lie is not necessarily a false statement.

Should it be said that I am using a word whose meaning I don't know, and so am talking nonsense? - -Say what you choose, so long as it does not prevent you from seeing the facts, and when you see them there is a good deal that you will not say. I then thought: what is the use of studying while not thinking for yourself; if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic etc., and if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any, that is like journalist in the use of the dangerous phrases such people use for their own ends. You see, I know that it's difficult to think well about 'certainty', 'probability', 'perception' etc. but it is, if possible, still more difficult to think, or try to think, really honestly about your life and other people's lives.

Further Readings:
Boudon R., The Origin of Values: Sociology and Philosophy of Belief, Transaction Publishers, London, 2001.
Brown J., Who Rules in Science, Harvard University Press, 2001.
Castaneda C., The Active Side of Infinity, Harperperennial Library, 2000.
Goodwin P., and G. Wright, Decision Analysis for Management Judgment, Wiley, 1998.
Jurjevich R., The Hoax of Freudism: A Study of Brainwashing the American Professionals and Laymen, Philadelphia, Dorrance, 1974.
Kaufmann W., Religions in Four Dimensions: Existential and Aesthetic, Historical and Comparative, Reader's Digest Press, 1976.

Leadership versus Managerial's Duties and Styles

There is a distinction between the intelligence of the hedgehog which knows one big thing and the intelligence of the fox which knows many little things. Hedgehogs fit what they learn into a world view. Foxes improvise explanations case by case.

Leadership is the ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals. Leadership has been defined in many ways.Several other representative definitions of leadership are as follows:

A major point about leadership is that it is not found only among people in high level positions. Leadership is needed at all levels in an organization and can be practiced to some extent even by a person not assigned to a formal leadership position.

To understand leadership it is important to grasp the difference between leadership and management. We get a clue from the standard conceptualization of the functions of management: planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. Leading is a major part of a manager’s job, yet a manager must also plan, organize, and control. Broadly speaking, leadership deals with interpersonal aspects of manager’s job, whereas planning, organizing, and controlling deal with the administrative aspects. Leadership deals with the change, inspiration, motivation, and influence.

The following set contains a stereotype of the difference between management and leadership as is the case with most stereotypes, the differences tend to be exaggerated:

{(Leader, Manager)} =
{ (Does the right things, Does things right), (Visionary, Rational), (Passionate, Business like), (Creative, Persistent), (Inspiring Innovative, Tough Minded), (Courageous, Analytical Structured), (Imaginative, Deliberative), (Experimental, Stabilizing), (Shares Knowledge, Centralizes Knowledge), (Trusting, Guarded), (Warm and Radiant, Cool and Reserved), (Expresses Humility, Rarely admits to being wrong), (Initiator, Implementer)}

Following are several key distinctions between management and leadership:

If these views are to be taken to their extreme, the leader is an inspirational figure and the manager is a stodgy bureaucrat mired in the status quo. But we must be careful not to downplay the importance of management. Effective leaders have to be good managers themselves, or be supported by effective managers. A germane example is the inspirational entrepreneur who is preoccupied with motivating employees and captivating customers that the internal administration is neglected. As a results costs sky rocket beyond income, and such matters as funding the employee pension plan and paying bills and taxes on time are overlooked. In short the difference between leadership and management is one of emphasis. Effective leaders also manage, effective managers also lead.

Satisfatction of Leaders: The type of satisfactions that you might obtain from being a formal leader depends on your particular leadership position. Factors such as the amount of money you are paid and the type of people in your group influences your satisfaction. There are seven sources of satisfaction that leaders often experience.

  1. A feeling of power and prestige: Being a leader automatically grants you some power. Prestige is forthcoming because many people think highly of people who are leaders. In many organizations, top-level leaders are addressed as Mr., Mrs., or Ms., whereas lower-ranking people are referred to by their surnames.
  2. A chance to help others grow and develop: A leader works directly with people, often teaching them job skills, serving as a mentor, and listening to personal problems. Part of a leader's job is to help other people become managers and leaders. A leader often feels as much of a "people helper" as does a human resources manager or a counselor.
  3. High income: Leaders, in general, receive higher pay than team members, and executive leaders in major business corporations typically earn several million dollars per year. A handful of business executives receive compensation of over $100 million per year. If money is an important motivator or satisfier, being a leader has a built-in satisfaction. In some situations a team leader earns virtually the same amount of money as other team members. Occupying a leadership position, however, is a starting point on the path to high-paying leadership positions.
  4. Respect and status: A leader frequently receives respect from group members. He or she also enjoys a higher status than people who are not occupying a leadership role. Status accompanies being appointed to a leadership position on or off the job. When an individual's personal qualifications match the position, his or her status is even higher.
  5. Good opportunities for advancement: Once you become a leader, your advancement opportunities increase. Obtaining a leadership position is a vital first step for career advancement in many organizations. Staff or individual contributor positions help broaden a person's professional experience, but most executives rise through a managerial path.
  6. A feeling of "being in on" things: A side benefit of being a leader is that you receive more inside information. For instance, as a manager you are invited to attend management meetings. In those meetings you are given information not passed along to individual contributors. One such tidbit might be plans for expansion or downsizing.
  7. An opportunity to control money and other resources: A leader is often in the position of helping to prepare a department budget and authorize expenses. Even though you cannot spend this money personally, knowing that your judgment on financial matters is trusted does provide some satisfaction. Many leaders in both private and public organizations control annual budgets of several million dollars.

Dissatisfaction and Frustrations of Leaders: About one out of ten people in the work force is classified as a supervisor, administrator, or manager. Not every one of these people is a true leader. Yet the problems these people experience often stem from the leadership portions of their job. Many individual contributors refuse to accept a leadership role because of the frustrations they have seen leaders endure. The frustrations experienced by a wide range of people in leadership roles revolve around the problems described next.

  1. Too much uncompensated overtime: People in leadership jobs are usually 'expected to work longer hours than other employees. Such unpaid hours are called casual overtime. People in organizational leadership positions typically spend about fifty- five hours per week working. During peak periods of peak demands, this figure can surge to eighty hours per week.
  2. Too many "headaches.": It would take several pages to list all the potential problems leaders face. Being a leader is a good way to discover the validity of Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will." A leader is subject to a batch of problems involving people and things. Many people find that a leadership position is a source of stress, and many managers experience burnout.
  3. Not enough authority to carry out responsibility: People in managerial positions complain repeatedly that they are held responsible for things over which they have little control. As a leader, you might be expected to work with an ill- performing team member, yet you lack the power to fire him or her. Or you might be expected to produce high-quality service with too small a staff and no authority to become fully staffed.
  4. Loneliness: As Secretary of State and former five-star general Colin Powell says, "Command is lonely." The higher you rise as a leader, the lonelier you will be in a certain sense. Leadership limits the number of people in whom you can confide. It is awkward to confide negative feelings about your employer to a team member. It is equally awkward to complain about one group member to another. Some people in leadership positions feel lonely because they miss being "one of the gang."
  5. Too many problems involving people: A major frustration facing a leader is the number of human resources problems requiring action. The lower your Leadership position, the more such problems you face. For example, the office supervisor spends more time dealing with problem employees than does the chief information officer.
  6. Too much organizational politics: People at all levels of an organization, from the office assistant to the chairperson of the board, must be aware of political factors. Yet you can avoid politics more easily as an individual contributor than you can as a leader. As a leader you have to engage in political byplay from three directions: below, sideways, and upward. Political tactics such as forming alliances and coalitions are a necessary part of a leader's role. Another troublesome aspect of organizational politics is that there are people lurking to take you out of the game, particularly if you are changing the status quo. These enemies within might attack you directly in an attempt to shift the issue to your character and style and avoid discussing the changes you are attempting to implement.
  7. The pursuit of conflicting goals: A major challenge leader’s face is to navigate among conflicting goals. The central theme of these dilemmas is attempting to grant others the authority to act independently, yet still getting them aligned or pulling together for a common purpose.
Skill Development in Leadership: Leader characteristics and traits refers to the inner qualities, such as self-confidence and problem-solving ability, that help a leader function effectively in many situations. Leader behavior and style refers to the activities engaged in by the leader, including his or her characteristic approach, that relate to his or her effectiveness. A leader who frequently coaches group members and practices participative leadership, for example, might be effective in many circumstances.

Creative Thinking: Many effective leaders are creative in the sense that they arrive at imaginative and original solutions to complex solutions. Creative ability lies on a continuum, with some leaders being more creative than others. At one end the creative continuum are business leaders who think of innovative products and services. At the middle of the creativity continuum are leaders who explore imaginative- but not break through-solutions to organizational problems. At the low end of creativity continuum are leaders who inspire group members to push forward with standard solutions to organizational problems. Creativity is such an important aspect of the leaders role in the modern organization that the development of creative-problem solving skills.

An important part of becoming more creative involves understanding the stages involved in creativity, which is generally defined as the production of novel and useful ideas. An attempt has been made to understand creativity more specifically as it pertains to the workplace. Organizational creativity is the creation of a valuable, useful new product, service, idea, procedure, or process by individuals working together in a complex social system.

A well-accepted model of creativity can be applied to organization. This model divides creative thinking into five stages, as shown in the following Figure:

Click on the image to enlarge it.
The Creative Process

Opportunity or Problem Recognition: A person discovers that a new opportunity exists or a problem needs resolution. Thirty-five years ago an entrepreneurial leader, Robert Cowan, recognized a new opportunity and asked, "Why do business meetings have to be conducted in person? Why can't they connect through television images?"

Immersion: The individual concentrates on the problem and becomes immersed in it. He or she will recall and collect information that seems relevant, dreaming up alternatives without refining or evaluating them.

Incubation: The person keeps the assembled information in mind for: a while. He or she does not appear to be working on the problem actively; however, the subconscious mind is still engaged. While the information is simmering it is being arranged into meaningful new patterns.

Insight: The problem-conquering solution flashes into the person's mind at an unexpected time, such as on the verge of sleep, during a shower, or while running. Insight is also called the Aha! experience: All of a sudden some- thing clicks. At one point Cowan suddenly thought of forming a teleconferencing business to exploit the potential of his idea.

Verification and Application: The individual sets out to prove that the creative solution has merit. Verification procedures include gathering supporting evidence, using logical persuasion, and experimenting with new ideas. Businesspeople typically follow the same five steps of creative thought that inventors do. Even though creativity usually follows the same steps, it is not a mechanical process that can be turned on and off. Much of creativity is intricately woven into a person's intellect and personality. Furthermore, creativity varies among individuals, and creative people themselves have peaks and valleys in their creativity.

Overcoming traditional sequential thinking is so important to creative thinking that the process has been characterized in several different ways. Listed next are five concepts of creative thinking. These concepts have much in common and can be considered variations of the same theme. Distinguishing among them is not nearly as important as recognizing that they all carry the same message: Creative thinking requires nontraditional thinking.

  • A creative person thinks outside the box: A box in this sense is a category that confines and restricts thinking. Because you are confined to a box, you do not see opportunities outside the box. For example, if an insurance executive thinks that health insurance is only for people, he or she might miss out on the growing market for domestic animal health insurance. Inside the accompanying box insert, you will find several business examples of thinking outside the box.
  • People who are not creative suffer from "hardening of the categories.": A low- creativity individual thinks categorically: "Only men can drive bulldozers"; "Only women can work in child care centers as caregivers"; "Passenger vehicles can only be sold by having potential customers visit a dealer showroom or outdoor lot.
  • To be creative one must develop new paradigms: A paradigm is a model or framework. An example of a quality-inhibiting paradigm is that suppliers should be treated shabbily because they need the company more than the company needs them. In reality, creative companies form partnerships of mutual respect with suppliers. Developing a new paradigm can also benefit an organization by giving a business a new twist, thus leading to a new source of revenues. eBay established a new paradigm for a retailer because it functions as a broker, thereby eliminating the expense of inventory, handling, and shipping.
  • Creativity requires overcoming traditional mental sets: A traditional mental set is a conventional way of looking at things and placing them in familiar categories. Overcoming traditional wisdom refers to the same idea. One traditional mental set is that the only way for people to obtain the death benefit on their life insurance policy is to die. Several years ago an investor initiated the concept of viatical settlement, in which a person with a terminal illness sells his or her policy to an investor for about 80 percent of the policy value. When the person dies, the investor receives the death benefit from the insurance company. The sooner the person dies the better the return on the investment, for the person who buys the policy from the ailing or aging person.

    Viatical settlements grew out of the AIDS epidemic, as many young people with no dependents and meager savings were faced with overwhelming medical bills. Today the concept has been extended to cancer patients and missing home residents who prefer to cash in life insurance policies rather than cash in other assets. In the present form of viatical settlements, sellers and buyers are matched by a "living benefits" broker.

  • Creative people engage in lateral thinking in addition to vertical thinking: Vertical thinking is an analytical, logical process that results in few answers. The vertical, or critical, thinker is looking for the one best solution to a problem, much like solving an equation. In contrast, lateral thinking spreads out to find many different solutions to a problem. The vertical- thinking leader attempts to find the best possible return on investment strictly in financial terms. The lateral-, or creative-thinking, leader might say, "A financial return on investment is desirable. But let's not restrict our thinking. Customer loyalty, quality, being a good corporate citizen and job satisfaction are also important returns on investment." As illustrated in the following Figure, the essential element in lateral thinking is to find multiple solutions to a problem.

    Click on the image to enlarge it.
    Vertical vs Lateral Thinking

    A good example of such lateral thinking in solving both a scientific and business problem took place in the communications industry. A problem with many communications satellites is that the satellite is so far away. Also, buildings and terrain block many of the signals from tower-based systems.

As with other types of personal development, leadership development requires considerable self-discipline. In the present context, self-discipline is mobilizing one's effort and energy to stay focused on attaining an important goal. Self-discipline is required for most forms of leadership development. Assume, for ex-ample, that a leader is convinced that active listening is an important leadership behavior. The leader reads about active listening and also attends a workshop on the subject. After the reading and workshop are completed, the leader will need to concentrate diligently in order to remember to listen actively. Self-discipline is particularly necessary because the pressures of everyday activities often divert a person's attention from personal development.

Self-discipline plays an important role in the continuous monitoring of one's behavior to ensure that needed self-development occurs. After one identifies a developmental need, it is necessary to periodically review whether one is making the necessary improvements. Assume that a person recognizes the developmental need to become a more colorful communicator as a way of enhancing charisma. The person would need self-discipline to make the conscious effort to communicate more colorfully when placed in an appropriate situation. People with dynamic personalities will rise to the top. These leaders will make institutions even flatter, simpler, and faster moving, but they will not hunger for the perks of leadership.

A basic principle of learning is that practice is necessary to develop and improve skills.

Further Readings:
Byham W., A. Smith, and M. Paese, Grow Your Own Leaders: How to Identify, Develop, and Retain Leadership Talent, Prentice Hall, 2002.
Clawson J., Level Three Leadership, Prentice Hall, 2002.
DuBrin A., Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skill, Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004.
Kouzes J., and B. Posner, The Leadership Challenge, Jossey-Bass, 2003.
The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development, Jossey-Bass, 1998.

Cognitive Decision Making

Recognition is an understanding by the "similarity process" of mind in the behavioral and cognitive decision process. Decision-making is the central activity for both leaders and managers. Managing and leading are not the same. The manager's responsibility is "To Do the Things Right", and the leader's responsibility is "To Do the Right Things". Leaders have a goal of creating an innovative environment that will of necessity produce mistakes, and managers have a goal of honing their craft to reduce and eliminate mistakes and waste.

The assumption that cognition can be studied by looking exclusively at what goes on in the brain has undergone considerable criticism. A diverse and growing number of researchers claim that an organism’s cognitive abilities are partly constituted by prior and posterior conception, action, environmental manipulation and intricate couplings that spread the causality across organisms and structures in their physical, social, and technological environments. Research in this area is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on fields such as philosophy, cognitive science, developmental studies, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, simulation science and robotics. Much of it is inspired by or complemented by the insights of thinkers in the phenomenological (i.e., subjectivity rather than objectivity) area that emphasize the ways in which experience and thought are structured by bodily constraints and environmental interaction.

Cognitive decision theory: This is an empirical, descriptive, non-statistical, context related process theory and considers a "decision" as a decision making process very similar to a problem solving process, which is a special, time consuming, context dependent information processing process. The human decision maker is considered in analogy to a computer system, i. e. data and knowledge has to be fed into the system. This and the type of information processing performed determine the outcome.

Thinking Is Modeling

The connectionist paradigm: Neural nets also model living (human) information processing, but on a more physical and not so functional level. Information is processed from input via hidden to output layers of artificial neurons. One of the differences between the "cognitive" and the "neural" decision model is, that the latter includes explicitly and even concentrates on learning and on topological features, while the former does not exclude learning but does not consider it as one of the points of major interest.

The most important issue for the strategic decision maker is the outcome of decisions. Clearly, what we think or feel is not relevant to the physical world, however they influence on our value judgment in our goal setting. The decision maker's model is based one readily measurable -- either from actual decisions or from surveys polls, or interactive simulations. Statistical techniques deal with the validity, applicability, and scalability of such information. This information can then be used to rigorously model the decisions as a function of perceived conditions and personal tastes, values, and preferences. Qualitative Choice Theory is one of the more popular approaches in that it is easily calibrated and parameterized, is robust, and has the feature that allows "analogous" decision data to be applied to new situations.

The OR/MS/DS/SS modeling process aims at structuring complex problems, exploring different perspectives and facilitating participation and engagement of the decision maker with the OR/MS/DS/SS analyst. The success in OR/MS/DS/SS modeling requires both quantitative (hard) and qualitative (soft) data together in a single engagement. The real-world decision problems exist within a complex organizational context that has both social and personal dimensions. Moreover various stages of the OR/MS/DS/SS modeling process, from the initial stage of understanding the problem, to the final stage of implementing a good strategy, require a different and appropriate method and technique for a particular decision problem. Unfortunately, the devolution of OR/MS/DS/SS has been from a concern with real-world problems to one with applications of mathematical techniques. Much published research in OR/MS/DS/SS is unengaged and focused on decision mathematics or optimization. That is, most papers published in leading OR/MS/DS/SS journals take little or no account of how their finding might be used in practice, nor do they express much concern about this issue.

The management scientist is not the decision maker. The decision maker must incorporate other necessary perspectives including the organizational, environmental, conflicting, historical, political, dynamic, and psychological aspects of the problem into the management scientist's analytical model. For example, he/she must know how to remove any "invisible" barriers (also called "Chinese walls"), between departments in an organization.

One must be cautioned that the way we choose to see the world (i.e., modeling) creates the world we see. When describing reality, you must be careful not to weave in your own wishful views. For example, describing nature as if it has human traits is a modeling process called the "pathetic fallacy." It has been found that, so far as we can discover, nature is indifferent to our values and can only be understood by ignoring our notions of good and bad. The Universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that this purpose has any similarity to ours. For example, history does not have any purpose, as Hegel's metaphysics claimed it has. However, the purpose of studying history is to predict the future. The following figure illustrates the two extreme worldviews painted so far by the organized religions, morality, culture, and metaphysics which are collections of linguistic, and other kinds of logical fallacies.

The Pythagorean' view of the world was to study the world as an external entity. This gave rise to the Western scientific and analytical tradition. However, the mysticism view of Eastern world, as expressed, e.g., by I Ching (i.e., Book of Changes), is based on the attitude that man is inseparable from the world. The following figure depicts these two extreme views of the world:

Homo Natura

We deplete nature's natural resources by using or even abusing them up to their limits. This reality must constantly remind us that there is a place for man somewhere between these extreme views. In abusing nature, Wally Hickel, a former governor of Alaska, defended and justified his decisions by believing that "you can't just let nature run wild." Sustainability requires living within the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. However, human demands have already exceeded the biosphere's regenerative capacity.

Man can be programmed: Anyone who has read Étienne de la Boétie, Margaret Mead, or John Dewey will recognize that we are all programmed by our cultures. We accept as unfailing truisms that are not really truths but leading us into folly. The "Dominator Paradigm" recognized the dominants and domineering world view by the power of the sword (Arm force), the flag (Nationalism), and the cross (Religion).

The procedure for domination invariably followed the three steps:

  1. Learn the dominant myths of the target people and, in the process, gain their trust.
  2. Find the gaps or superstitions in their beliefs.
  3. Either replace the superstitions or augment them with facts that redirect the target group's perceptions and allegiance.

The program started with the Jewish Creation Myth that the universe was created for man. The Greeks extended the concept with the dictum that "man is the measure of all things." The Inquisition made heresy to think otherwise and burned over a million witches at the stake (mostly beautiful young women) to impress it on society. Columbus started the spread of the Dominator Paradigm world wide during the age of "discovery" and colonization. Adam Smith started the trend to make it the ethical base of our Euro-American culture with his concept that by "self-interest" and an "unseen hand" economics would solve all of our social and ethical problems. USA has achieved its commercial and financial supremacy under a regime of private ownership. It conquered the wilderness, built our railroads, our factories, our public utilities, gave us the telegraph, the telephone, the electric light, the automobile, the airplane, the radio and a higher standard of living for all the people than obtains anywhere else in the world. Not many great inventions ever came from a government-owned industry.

As Friedrich Nietzsche has said, "The task is to rediscover beneath all flattering colors and make-up the frightful prototext homo natura, which means to translate man back into nature; to become master over the many vain and overly enthusiastic interpretations and connotations that have so far been scrawled and painted over that eternal basic text of homo natura."

At the basis of the whole modern view of the world lies the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the interpretations of natural phenomena. This does not take a lawgiver into discount.

Any general statements such as "everyone will have some kind of middle life crisis, such as depression, during their middle-age or at a later stage in his/her life time" may not be correct. Humans have no nature to be discovered, but they do have history. It was necessary for humans to abandon all instincts to become a member of society by following its norms and customs. It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct. Almost nothing is left in humans to be called instinct, common sense, or other similar names. For example, common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired usually by age 18. Unfortunately, there have been many useless axiomatic models of human nature in the Western culture, including the works of Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Mill, Malthus, Quesnay and, of course, Jeremy Bentham and its Felicific Calculus.

With regard to the pathetic fallacy process, I think it can only be expected that humans will describe nature "as-if" it has human traits. As humans, we are limited to viewing the world from our own perspective based on experiences, knowledge, language, etc. When we don't actually know how to describe something that we don't fully understand (nature being an example), we express an idea/thought in terms that are familiar to us. The danger comes in an individual's interpretation of the word. For example, the word aggressive may have either a negative connotation (pushy, overbearing) or a positive connotation (powerful, ambitious). Second, with regard to common sense, instinct, and intuition, I do not believe that science should be used in an attempt to explain how these "skills" are applied by people in understanding something. I believe these "skills" are positively non-scientific. Isn't that the point? Even though I will not attempt to classify or define these concepts, I believe that they exist on an emotional level and therefore cannot be explained by science.

Social Cognitive: Social Cognitive (SC) is the property of a systems whereby the collective behaviors of entities interacting locally with their environment cause coherent functional global patterns to emerge. SC provides a basis with which it is possible to explore collective and distributed decision making without centralized control or the provision of a global model. To tackle the formation of a coherent social collective intelligence from individual behaviors, it must consider concepts related to self-organization, and the social bounds. It also includes the role played not only by the environmental media as a driving force for societal learning, but also by positive and negative feedback produced by the interactions among agents. The results will be the collective adaptation of a social community to its dynamic cultural environment.

Intuition is a mode of fast thinking: Intuitive state is a rapid selective cycling and recycling gathering information and ideas from one's memory and applying value to them. This is done so fast that one cannot have a clear record of what is happening. Intuition may not always help you in finding the right answer to even a simple question. Suppose you are filling two ice cube trays with water, boiling hot in one, cold in the other, and placing both in a freezer. The question is: Which tray turns to ice quicker?" If your answer is the tray with boiling hot water, then you are right. Why? How could you resolve this apparent isolation of the laws of thermodynamics.

Why do different managers make different decisions for a given problem? Why are we all different? Because we all have different experiences and unique backgrounds. Every experience in life shapes our mind in a unique way. Knowledge is a biological phenomenon. Humans experience the world in their own ways. Through their internal processes, each human engages in a creative relationship with the external world, bringing forth a myriad of different models.

The history of science shows how weak common sense, instinct, and intuition can be taken as guides to our understanding. For example, intuition is a truncated logic and it is never clearly justified on a scientific ground.

Do not Take a "Model" as the "Reality": A model is not a property of the reality, but of its description. Models are useful but they all certainly come with their own baggage of simplification, and theorization of reality, however, the price for not modeling is eternal obfuscation. A model could be as good as "virtual reality", however, it is never the "real reality." Unfortunately, in many cases, modeling becomes an end rather than a means. The modeler spends so much time in creating the model that he/she falls in love with the model: the model becomes the reality. Do not take a "model" as the "reality." Unfortunately, many do. There are much more models in the world than realities. For a successful decision, reality must take precedence over the decision model, for reality cannot be fooled.

This Is Not a Pipe

For example, the above image is only a model of a particular type of pipe from a particular point of view. You cannot put tobacco in it.

The Pooh's Little Instruction Book says "When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it."

Effective Communication Skills: The management scientist must know that his/her success depends on effective communication skills (i.e., making common what is individually experienced). Proper focus on communicating the results and recommended course of action obtained by the modeler is needed. This helps to achieve a consensus concerning an acceptable course of action. Finally, be aware that in many historical cases humans invented some models of reality in order to discard the reality itself. For example, in some religious models, a better world after death is created to discard this world.

Human Performance and New Technology: Human performance is the key to unlocking markets and organizations. New technologies open many options for what we do and how and where we do it. They allow new processes, new structures, new strategies. But the good decision makers will build their plans on a simple platform. Human performance is at the core of business performance. They will put the human issues front and centre of their strategies and their execution plans, and they will bring rigor, discipline, and mathematical modeling to match the way they develop and apply technology.

Qualitative considerations such as re-organization and refinements are as important as quantitative factors in an effective strategic decision-making process. The main question is How to merge different mental models within an organization a shared mental model? The progression in that direction might be one of the following two possibilities:

  1. if the organization contains conflicting mental models it will not move far, resulting in political infighting.
  2. if the organization contains a single mental model (i.e., consensus) it can move in that direction until it comes up against the reality when it requires an adaptation.
Over time, however, the organization whose mental models most closely match the reality will survive, while others fail.

Cognitive Decision Science: The cognitive decision science concerns the nature of the decision maker intentions. Often intentions are entities of thinking, which are introspectively accessible to the conscious mind, and causally efficacious in the production of implementation of the decision, i.e., intentional realism of the decision. However, intentions might be conceived of as abstract patterns discernable in the behavior of organisms, which are ascribed as instruments of prediction, without much awareness of internal representational machinery responsible for the implantation of our decisions. The third model of cognitive decision science rightly considers both processes: our choices and the subjectivity of re-evaluation of all values as the measure of intentional and our final decision.

Cognitive Impairments Factors: The following factors may impair our decision making process performance including speed, reasoning, planning, judgment, impulse control, temper control, perception, awareness, attention, language, learning, memory and timing.

  • Disorganization: Difficulties in planning, organization, sequencing and prioritizing.
  • Lack of Initiation: The initiation or starting of an activity, conversation or behavior is often compromised.
  • Fixed Mindedness: Perseverance or being fixed on a specific thought or action can occur when behaviors are inadequately regulated by the brain.
  • Impulsivity: Some persons experience difficulties with impulse control and may develop problem behaviors such as irritability, temper outbursts, and acting without thinking.

For more information, visit the following collection:
Decision Making Resources.

Further Readings:
Callicott B., and R. Ames, Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, State University of New York Press, 1998.
Casti J., Reality Rules: Picturing the World in Mathematics, Wiley, 1992.
Hall D., and R. Ames, Thinking from the Han: Self, Truth, and Transcendence in Chinese and Western Culture, State University of New York Press, 1998.
James M., D. Jongeward, and J. Bell, Born to Win: Transactional Analysis With Gestalt Experiments, 25th edition, Perseus Press, 1996.
Kleindorfer P., and et al., Decision Sciences: An Integrative Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Linstone H., Decision Making for Technology Executives: Using Multiple Perspectives to Improved Performance, Boston, Artech House, 1999.
Manski Ch., and D. McFadden, (eds.), Structural Analysis of Discrete Data with Econometric Applications, MIT Press, 1986.
Ranyard W., and Ola Svenson, (Ed.), Decision Making: Cognitive Models and Explanations, Routledge, 1997.
Saleemi A., O-S. Bohn, and A. Gjedde (Editors), In Search of a Language for the Mind-Brain: Can the Multiple Perspectives Be Unified, Aarhus University Press, 2005. What is human nature? How is language related to thought – and should the connection be investigated socially or biologically? Is external reality coherent or fragmented? What, if any, are the foundations of rationality, and how trustworthy are they?
Schütte H., (Ed.), Strategic Issues in Information Technology: International Implications for Decision Makers, Pergamon Infotech, UK, 1988.
Seagal S., and D. Horne, Human Dynamics: A New Framework for Understanding People and Realizing the Potential in Our Organizations, Paperback, 2000. It gives you some ideas of why some mental models are different. For example, The Western Culture looks at relationships between people, while Eastern Cultures are more systemic thinkers and look at how things connect as a system.
Stein J., From H-bomb to Star Wars: The Politics of Strategic Decision Making, Lexington Books, 1984.

Behavioral Decision Making

Physical sciences are in general based on the cause-and-effect logic. Human’s behaviors are, however based on motives. There is always a motivation force generated by some causes and purposes that can tell why a person makes a particular decision, i.e., the Emotivisim School of thought.

Managers wish to motivate workers to exert effort. For example, there is large literature on the use of wages and monetary incentives for this purpose, but in practice the "honor" or "prestige" of an award can be a significant motivator as well, unless the award is given so often that its prestige is diluted. The main focus must be on management of the reputation of an award that may or may not have a fixed monetary component but how to manage the award over time.

The cardinal aim of modeling human behavior is to model a business process that increases workforce enthusiasm considering all aspects of human behavior including group dynamics, project work climate, and organizational culture.

A Behavioral Decision Making Classification: Decision making types may allows for only three unique systems of making decisions:

  1. Individualism -- which access inequity, relishes competition and identifies with the rights and power of the individual.

  2. Collaboration -- which treats all men as equally important, exalts collaborative efforts and identifies with unlimited democracy.

  3. Power and authority -- which respects power and identifies with controlling authority.

An organizational system based upon the "nature of man" blends the three possible systems into a harmonious unity, accepting that any one of the systems standing alone is both unstable and ineffective.

The universality of the three decision-making processes seems obvious. Everyone wants to be free to make his or her own decisions. At the same time, everyone needs the companionship and the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a group, and everyone fears the absolute solitude of unrestricted freedom. Finally, everyone wants to believe in something or someone, to conform his or her behavior to some kind of authority, whether that authority comes internally from religious, political, or cultural values or externally from a leader in a hierarchy.

While it may seem obvious that everyone relies upon these three types of decision making, our political conversations often polarize into conflicts of two decision-making types, a battle of group consensus versus individual freedom. We have dogmas of the "left" and "right" or of "liberals" and "conservatives." Conforming to these dogmas is a serious blunder. Dogmas of the left or right fail to recognize the role that authority plays in balancing the interests of the group and the individual. Without a balance of all three types, organizations can quickly become unstable and ineffective.

Organizations use decision-making processes that vary from elaborate designs with numerous decision points to relatively simple procedures. In each case, the process relies on a mix of the three types of decision making inherent in human thinking:

  • Individual decision making based upon self interest,

  • Group decision making based upon consensus, and

  • Authoritative decision making based upon values, rules and hierarchies. The organizations that succeed during both good times and bad times are those that maintain an effective balance between these three ways of choosing a course of action. In fact, what we regard as a "civil" society is one that balances the three decision-making methods in a constant tug of war. As a result, modern "civil" societies facilitate the creation of balanced organizations.

There have been two extreme approaches to modeling human behavior. The simple models emphasis on "rational persons," while other's emphasis is on the fact that people have much more complex motivations, both individually and collectively, especially in herd-instinct, or malicious-intent situations.

An integrative descriptive model for human behavior must consider all aspects of decision-making factors including use the economic, sociology, law, and social psychology. This might be achieved at three levels: the individual, the organization, and the society, with interactions among the three. The interactions among these three levels include flows of information, and resources, and within each system of values and decision structures. These two kinds of flows shape the interactions between these three levels.

Facing Unfavorable Outcome of a Good Decision: Often an unfavorable outcome of a good decision leads individuals to switch away from that decision due to negative emotional responses to the outcome. Negative emotional reactions led many to abandon the option that they recalled as having been more successful in the past and which they expected to perform better in the future. They focus on their affective reactions rather than beliefs about the earlier disappointing outcome. Those individuals with a general tendency to focus on their needed cognition are less likely to switch away from the better option following a disappointing outcome. It is also likely that an emotional reaction to a negative outcome lead people to switch away from the options that they believe might be successful on the next occasion.

Feeling versus Being: Feeling is different form being. Feeling is the mind response while being is the bodily manifestation of the same thing. For example, feeling of being sad is an emotion, which is not measurable, however, being sad, is a bodily response and therefore, the degree of being sadness is measurable on numerical scales by the appropriate psychometric instruments.

Conflict Is a Part of Life: People and businesses suffer when conflict is ignored and not managed properly. Relationships are strained, productivity diminishes, and destruction can be the ultimate result. Many of us are so averse to conflict that we practice appeasement at any price, while others cling to adversarial approaches, which can escalate all the costs of settling differences. These behaviors are often the spawning ground for further conflict. They occur because we do not know about how to effectively use the array of possibilities that exist for successful conflict management. The OR/MS/DS/SS use of conflict modelling is in model-based decision support systems, i.e., the use of flexible, user-friendly software to build up systems of decision makers, set of options, and preferences. This facilitates rapid change in one's assumptions, and conditions among the participants.

Behavioral decision-making is to understand how people make decisions and how they can make the decision-making process more effective and efficient. A person could be very conservative, or perpetual in making any decision. The behavior sciences are applicable to decision processes from both quantitative and qualitative viewpoints to improve a stronger foundation for making better decisions. The decision-maker's style and characteristics can be classified as: the thinker, the cowboy (snap and uncompromising), Machiavellian (ends justifies the means), the historian (how others did it), the cautious (even nervous), etc.

Decision-Making versus Habits: Decision-making involves reaching a conclusion, which implies deliberation and thought and suggests a conscious act. While a natural reaction or unconscious act would be labeled as habit, reflex act, or impulsive act, or habit which is, unfortunately the center of gravity when we want to start the decision-making process.

The Manager versus the Leader: A manager is defined, as a person who decides on "how to do the things right" while a leader is concerned with "how to do the right things

Power and the Leadership: Strategy implementation is a political process that involves bargaining, persuasion, and confrontation among actors who divide power.

People in power usually want to stay there. And one way they think they can do this is by enforcing rigid adherence to a set of principles that they believe are responsible for their organization's success. By requiring employees to abide by these superstitions -- better known as company policies -- rather than examining the facts, they build organizations that appear streamlined. In fact, they are doomed.

There is no such thing as "organizational behavior;" it is the behavior of the people in the organization. It is impossible to understand the decision-maker's behavior in organizational situations where conflict exists without considering the role of power. Power has a major impact on information, uncertainty, and resource dependency since there is competition among organization's members for scarce resources. There is a big difference between management and leadership: while management works in the system, leadership works on the system. If one is able enough to accurately define all three of these parameters; Task, Time, and Resources, then one is able to deal with the decision-making modeling process. The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision for these parameters. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.

Leadership is defined as, "the quality of a leader, and the capacity to lead." It can also be defined as setting the example. Whether they realize it or not, a given staff will look to the leader to set the trend in the workplace. So what trend are you setting? There is a reason the CEO of a multi-billion dollar international soft drink company spends one day a month delivering cases of soda via delivery truck and wheeled dolly. Because he's smart and successful, and his staff is watching him like a hawk. They can't help but copy and respect the CEO's sense of enthusiasm and commitment to what the business is really all about--getting product into customer's hands.

The Challenge of Leadership is mainly its human-side. The leader is to be strong, but not rude; kind, but not weak; bold, but not a bully; thoughtful, but not lazy; humble, but not timid; proud, but not arrogant; and have a sense of humor, without folly.

Before the leaders can inspire with emotion, they must be swamped with it themselves. Before they can move the tears of others, their own must flow. To convince others, they must themselves believe.

Evil and Unethical Decisions: One must certainly be aware of the big difference between unethical and evil decisions. The CEO for an internationally known tire company signs off on the production of tires that he knows are likely to disintegrate under certain conditions. Even with such knowledge, he makes it clear that this information is not to be publicized and approves production and sales of the tires. Decide whether such a decision is an evil or unethical one? What about this scenario? An administrator in a fascist country followed the orders of his superior and signed off on the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children. He never personally killed any of those people himself nor would he. Without integrity, no company can have positive word of mouth.

Reason Is Not the Supreme Judge: The critical and postmodern organization theorists have already built their case against Reason. They see reason as "disciplinary knowledge" in modern organizations because it constrains the natural autonomy of the individual. This view, all of the social sciences are seen as knowledge structures used in domination. Sociology, social work, law, psychology, and most certainly management and organization theory are implicated. Just as psychology is used to persuade the individual to adjust to (thus accept) the external world, theories of leadership and organization are used to develop discourses and classification schemes that reproduce systems of power. By rejecting Western cultural history, positioning the "naturalness" of the individual, and assuming all discipline is oppressive power generated by knowledge, critical organization theory and postmodern organization theory elevate individualism, although only implicitly, to the role of their supreme value.

Instrumental reasoning has been used successfully in science to make our world manageable. For its utilitarian characteristic, the instrumental reasoning is the supreme judge in any scientific field.

It is possible to use reason to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven ninth symphony as a variation of wave pressure.

Dealing with People: While senior management formulate clear strategies to achieve the essential fit between internal strengths and weaknesses and external threats and opportunities. However, strategy implementation is a social process rooted in culture, involving common interest and integration. People react and adapt to environmental changes and constraints.

There are two ways to persuade people. The first is by using conventional rhetoric, which is what most managers are trained in. The other way to persuade people and ultimately a much more powerful way is by uniting an idea with an emotional appeal.

Work Together Towards Enhancement

In any organization, it is a must for everyone to learn the ability to work with other people. Henry Ford used to say:

Coming together is a beginning;
Keeping together is progress;
Working together is success.

There are two different types of relationships among people namely the Frequent and Infrequent relationships. Negotiation is an effective tool for dealing with infrequent relationships. To have an effective negotiation one must separate the people from the problem, focus on interest (not taking positions), generate a variety of possibilities, and insist that the results be based on some objective numerable and measurable scales. For the ongoing relationships the strategies vary. The classical tactics are: carrots and sticks, tit-for-tat, and live-and-let-live.

Human abuse does not stem from a wanton exercise of power, rather, hurting people is a sign that we are still lacking power. Or it shows a sense of frustration in the face of this poverty. The blockage of self-developments is what lie behind abusive behavior. Since whoever is dissatisfied with himself is continually ready for revenge and we others will be his victims. An eye for an eye will make the whole world go blind.

Progressive Approach to Modeling: Modeling for decision making involves two distinct parties, one is the decision-maker and the other is the model-builder known as the analyst. The analyst is to assist the decision-maker in his/her decision-making process. Therefore, the analyst must be equipped with more than a set of analytical methods.

Specialists in model building are often tempted to study a problem, and then go off in isolation to develop an elaborate mathematical model for use by the manager (i.e., the decision-maker). Unfortunately the manager may not understand this model and may either use it blindly or reject it entirely. The specialist may feel that the manager is too ignorant and unsophisticated to appreciate the model, while the manager may feel that the specialist lives in a dream world of unrealistic assumptions and irrelevant mathematical language.

Such miscommunication can be avoided if the manager works with the specialist to develop first a simple model that provides a crude but understandable analysis. After the manager has built up confidence in this model, additional detail and sophistication can be added, perhaps progressively only a bit at a time. This process requires an investment of time on the part of the manager and sincere interest on the part of the specialist in solving the manager's real problem, rather than in creating and trying to explain sophisticated models. This progressive model building is often referred to as the bootstrapping approach and is the most important factor in determining successful implementation of a decision model. Moreover the bootstrapping approach simplifies otherwise the difficult task of model validating and verification processes.

Resistance to Decisions: Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator and change has its enemies. It is not so much that we are afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it is that place in between that we fear. It's like being between trapezes, there's nothing to hold on to.

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better. The most universal difficulties arise from people's fear of planned change. People often oppose a proposed model merely because they have participated in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. People resist changes. More accurately, they resist being changed by other people. Resistance can take the form of either open hostility or covert sabotage of decision-makers' efforts. Even the best designed strategy always fails if those who must carry it out refuse to do so. As Machiavelli wrote in The Prince "It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more uncertain of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new order of things. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions, and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones."

Incremental versus Optimal Changes: Optimal (i.e., the best) decisions are often used to justify sweeping organizational changes that may disrupt individual routines. One important value is the cooperation and morale that can develop when the members of the organization know that they are respected members of a productive organization. Noting this human-side of decision-making, many organizations use the goal-seeking approach rather than optimal decisions. This suggests that changes at any time be limited to a goal, which needs minor deviations from the current situation. This approach to decision-making is known as incrementalism, or the goal-seeking approach. For example, instead of maximizing profit, one may set the goal of achieving 10% increase in profit.

Copping with the Major Changes: A Transitional Process : The responses of individuals will vary considerably not only from person to person, but also over time. By this we mean that a person will respond negatively to a change at one point, but perhaps have a different attitude to it at a later stage. However, there is a pattern in the response of an individual to change over a period of time. Obviously the more traumatic the change, the more pronounced will be the effect.

The major changes at work can resemble other major changes, such as bereavement or marriage, in their effect on individuals. Often people going through such change progress through the following process, stage-by-stage:

  • Immobilization
  • Denial of change
  • Incompetence
  • Acceptance of reality
  • Testing possibilities
  • Search for meaning
  • Integration

The time taken to accept major changes fully can be as much as say, 18 months or even longer. However, an understanding of what is happening can often reduce the time needed to come to terms with change, and to fully adopt new ways of behaving. A leader’s support and concern through the stages will also be critical for the individual team member faced with major change. Understanding of the process will also help the leader to deal with the individual in a way appropriate to the stage they are at.

This process is best understood graphically, which is known as the transition curve, as depicted in the following figure:

This above curve shows how competence varies with time and it reflects the likely changes of mood and morale, as well as the development of competence, in progress.

  1. Immobilization: Shock, Overwhelmed, Mismatch between high expectations and reality.

  2. Denial of change: Temporary retreat, False competence.

  3. Incompetence: Awareness that change is necessary, Frustration phase, How to deal with change?

  4. Acceptance of reality: "Letting go" of past comfortable attitudes and behaviors.

  5. Testing New behaviors: New approaches, Tendency here to stereotype, i.e. the way things should be done, Lots of energy, Begins to deal with new reality, Lots of anger and frustration.

  6. Search for meaning: Internalization, Seeking understanding of why things are different, Not until people get out of activity do they understand their lives better.

  7. Integration: incorporate meanings into new behaviors.

Further Readings:
Deutsch M., and P. Coleman, (eds.), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, Jossey-Bass, 2000.
Forrester J., Collected Papers of Jay W. Forrester, Wright-Allen Press, Inc., 1975. Contains numerous models to understand the evolution of human behavior, including strategic interpersonal and behavioral dynamics models.
Heil G., D. Stephens, D. McGregor, and W. Bennis, Managing the Human Side of the Enterprise, Wiley, 2000.
Rapoport A., Decision Theory and Decision Behavior: Normative and Descriptive Approaches, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989.
Simon H., Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organizations, Free Press Inc., 1997.
Upmeyer A., Attitudes and Behavioral Decisions, Springer-Verlag, 1989.
Yammarino F, and B. Avolio, (eds.), Transformational and Charismatic Leadership: The Road Ahead, Elsevier Science, 2002.

Leadership in a Diverse and Multicultural Environment

One must have a good sense of the importance of being multiculturally aware, knowledgeable, and skillful since demographic changes will continue at a rapid pace, making the need for these competencies more critical than ever. These are prerequisites for top-level CEOs, and for all employees who influence others in the workplace, whether this influence is based on formal authority or informal norms. Being multiculturally competent can help every employee to get more out of every relationship in the workplace. Understanding both diversity and multiculturalism must focus on the complexity of culture, which plays a large role in both diversity and multiculturalism efforts. The development of multicultural awareness begins with an awareness of culturally learned conditions. The conditions include the following:
  • Multicultural perspectives emphasize each group’s similarities and differences at the same time.
  • Multicultural perspectives are necessarily complex.
  • Multicultural perspectives are dynamic for each person, place and time.
The inclusive multicultural perspective of emphasizing both similarities and differences has becoming the main focus on multicultural aspects of leading because of the inherent difficulties of measures of culture. It is easier to ignore culture or to limit the cultural perspective to either similarities or differences. Breaking this first rule of multiculturalism has resulted in false and inadequate/ incomplete choices. The controversy over "political correctness" reflects the inadequate of this false dichotomy where both sides of the argument are wrong. The argument supporting an objectively "correct" view of each culture rightly protects the unique and different perspectives of each cultural group against insult but wrongly presumes that culture is defined by these objective guidelines. The argument against political correctness rightly emphasizes the need to find common ground across cultures but wrongly presumes that cultural differences are unimportant. In order to escape from cultural encapsulation, leaders need to challenge the cultural bias of their own untested criteria. To leave our conditions untested or, worse yet, to be unaware of our culturally learned conditions, is not consistent with the standards of effective leadership.

The numbers of different country and cultural classifications available may create an overwhelming feeling of confusion about which one is "right". Instead of feeling overwhelmed, leaders who know that culture influences the conditions that individuals have as to what makes an effective leader should embrace the various aspects of culture as opportunities to educate themselves on the many dimensions of culture and what they mean for leaders in a multicultural environment. Multicultural development is a continuous learning process based on the following three stages of development:

  1. The awareness includes conditions about cultural differences and similarities in behavior, attitude, and values. Increased awareness provides more freedom of choice to those who become more aware of their own multiculturalism.
  2. The knowledge expands the amount of facts and information about culturally learned conditions.
  3. The skills apply effective and efficient action with people of different cultures based on the participants’ clarified conditions and accurate knowledge.
Leaders need to be trained in awareness, knowledge, and skills to develop multicultural competency.

People differ in many ways. Ethnics and racial identity models provide a framework for understanding how people may differ in terms of their racial identity and the implications of those identifications. Leaders who are familiar with both their own identity and that of others will benefit in their interactions with others. Individuals also differ in terms of their intelligences and preferred learning style. Leaders who are more emotionally intelligent are more likely to find developing multicultural skills easier compared to leaders who score lower on emotional intelligence. Also, leaders who are more aware of their own learning style can better attend to the choices they make during the learning process. This information can also be used to help leaders step outside of the comfort zone of their learning style to help them see situations from other perspectives.

To help in exploring and understanding the formation of personal identity, one must consider the tripartite framework made up of three concentric circles representing universal, group, and individual levels of personal identity. Because we are all members of the human race, and belong to the species Homo sapiens, we share many similarities, and the universal level can be summed up with the statement, "All individuals are, in some respects, like all other individuals." Because all of us are born into a cultural matrix of beliefs, values, rules, and social practices, group-level factors influence us. The group level of identity could be summarized by the following statement: "All individuals are, in some respects, like some other individuals." Some of the group-level factors are fixed and unchanging, e.g., race, gender, ability, age, while others are relatively non-fixed, e.g., education, socioeconomic status, marital status, geographic location. Moreover, individuals can belong to more than one cultural group, i.e., race, gender, and disability, some group identity can shift from one to the other depending on the situation.

The individual level of identity can best be summed up with the following statement: "All individuals are, in some way, like no other individuals." A holistic approach to understanding personal identity requires that we recognize all three levels: individual, group, and universal. Although the concentric circles may suggest a clear boundary, each level of identity must be viewed as permeable and ever changing in salience. In addition, even within a level of identity, multiple forces may be at work.

Conditions of Practice: "Practice makes perfect" has long been an accepted universal principle of learning. However, all practice may not be considered equal. Many issues have been researched that relate to conditions of pre-practice, practice, and post-practice and how they all relate to learning. Pre-practice conditions include attention advice which is providing information, independent of performance content, about the process or strategy that can be used to achieve an optimal learning outcome during training. Providing intentional advice is like giving trainees a problem-solving, task-related strategy or schema to apply across similar task. It allows the trainees to know where to focus their attention during training. The intentional advice contributes to transfer of learning. This is likely because the type of learning encouraged by intentional advice leads to general strategies and rules that can be applied across a variety of job situations.

There is much preparatory work that must be done before training begins. The effectiveness of all training programs depends on a thorough needs assessment. All three levels: organizational, task, and individual are important either directly or indirectly to the development of leaders’ multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills. Training that does not transfer is wasted. Focusing on trainee characteristics, training design, and the work environment will not ensure the desired training results, but not considering these three factors will almost ensure that multicultural and diversity training fails.

Just as culture is complex but not chaotic, so should multicultural training be guided by a sequence of learning objectives that reflect the needs of both the leader and the multicultural context. Teaching multicultural leadership and communication should include any and all methods relevant to the multicultural context from the viewpoint of the culture that is being taught. Training designs needs to be comprehensive enough to include both culture-general and culture-specific perspectives. The developmental sequence from awareness to knowledge to skill provides an eclectic framework for organizing the content of multicultural training and a rationale for leader development in multicultural settings.

Regardless of whether conflict is the result of personal factors or organizational factors, and whether it results in positive or negative outcomes, it must be managed or it might likely lead to unintended consequences. The handling of conflict has been part of the management literature discussing five ways of dealing with conflict: domination, compromise, integration, avoidance, and suppression. A framework for classifying styles for handling interpersonal conflicts can be grouped into five types: forcing, withdrawing, smoothing, compromising, problem solving and the intentions and assertiveness.

Avoiding is a style low on both cooperativeness and assertiveness. It is a decision to take no action or to stay out of conflict. This style is often considered to be withdrawal or indifference.

The Accommodating style reflects concern for the other party in meeting its goals, but a relative lack of concern about your own goals. The result is a cooperative but unassertive style.

The Competing style is characterized by assertiveness and uncooperative behavior. Your own concerns take precedence over the other party’s concerns. Compromising is a style that is intermediate in both cooperativeness and assertiveness because each party must give something up to resolve the conflict. This is not seen as the optimal solution to conflict due to each party surrendering part of its position for the sake of agreement.

Collaborating is seen as a win-win situation that is high on both cooperativeness and assertiveness. This solution to conflict is satisfactory to both parties and is usually obtained after much discussion.

By reframing conflict between people into cultural categories, it becomes possible for two persons to disagree without either of them being wrong based on their different culturally learned conditions. One must describe the advantages of reframing conflict into cultural categories for constructive conflict management.

It is necessary for leaders to understand how conflict is understood and managed in non-Western cultures, not only because individuals from those countries are increasingly employed in organizations in the United States, but also because Western can learn a great deal from non-Western cultures about constructive conflict management. Conflict is managed quite differently in a high-context culture compared to a low-context culture, and each perspective has its advantages and disadvantages. The skilled conflict manager will need to understand both perspectives and know when either may be more appropriate.

Asian and Pacific cultures in particular offer a perspective for managing conflict in harmony, where conflict between people is often described in a cosmic context with spiritual implications. The goal in Asian and Pacific cultures is often to prevent overt conflict from occurring at all, which while the Western perspective is more often about resolving conflict once it has occurred.

Constructive conflict management may become the first priority of leaders, especially when conflict is between culturally different people. Leaders need to find common ground without losing their integrity. It will become important for leaders to understand interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict in the cultural context in which those behaviors are learned and displayed.

Further Readings:
Christie D., D. Wagner, and D. Winter, Peace, Conflict and Violence: Peace Psychology for the 21st Century, Prentice Hall, 2001.

Ethics and Decision Making

Introduction: We have learned that a "good decision is never an accident" but this brings up a couple of other interesting issues such as – is an ethical decision never an accident or perhaps more intriguing is a good decision by necessity an ethical decision? The second question brings up numerous concerns many of which are debated in the newspapers on a daily basis thanks to the folks at Enron. Ethics and morality is rarely as obvious as the case at Enron, but on a higher level where does an individual’s ultimate responsibility lie? Some would say with family, others with country and yet others with religion just to name a few.

Trying to determine a common moral code is not easy task as the history of theology has taught us on countless occasions. Quantitative analysis is a key piece of effective decision-making but this is simply the execution and what numbers you choose to evaluate and how you choose to evaluate the results is highly subjective. The tools provide empirical information to utilize when making a decision but they do not provide the decision itself. This is true whether or not you are including ethics as part of the process or not.

Of particular interest to this paper is whether ethics and morality are a further step in the decision-making process or does it become an element of each step in the process. To determine this each of the stages in the decision-making process will be evaluated in the context of ethics and morality. Questions of interest are whether ethics and morality play a role in each stage and if so to what extent. The next section of the paper will provide some real world examples and finish up with the conclusions that can be drawn.

Concept of Ethics and Morality: What is this concept we are trying to understand? "Morality is a system of rules that modifies our behavior in social situations. It’s about the doing of good instead of harm, and it sets some standard of virtuous conduct." Evaluating the difference of doing well versus harm and to what extent is subjective but this does not preclude us from attempting to find common ground. Please note that for the purposes of this paper I will use the terms ethics and morality interchangeably from this point forward. Often one identifies five principles in common morality:

  • Autonomy: This relates to the question of exploitation of others and impacting their freedoms. Almost every decision has impacts on multiple persons and taking these impacts into not only consideration but engraining them in the process is not easy but necessary.
  • Non-malfeasance:Will we be creating harm towards others? In government almost every regulation benefits one group while hurting another. The same holds true in the majority of business decisions – action creates a situation that by its very nature benefits some while does not for others. Doe this create harm? I would argue that something that is not beneficial to you does not mean it creates harm. Every challenge is an opportunity.
  • Beneficence: Can this create good? A generic statement but worth considering and in essence all one needs to ask is can we solve the identified problem in a way that creates the most good.
  • Justice: Is the process fair itself and is the resulting implementation fair. Essentially both the means and the end must be considered. The world is not equal nor should it be as all people are not created equal and what a boring place it would be if we were. There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.
  • Fidelity: Does this follow our professional, corporate or governance roles as defined. Often this involves looking at the bigger picture and understanding the spirit of your role beyond straightforward results.
As you will have no doubt noticed these definitions are far from concrete or straightforward principles to apply. Every person potentially will have different perspectives or degrees of agreement in each case. However, great strides will have been made if each person is evaluating their concept of ethics. One of the greatest dangers in this field is people ignoring the concept due to the ambiguity.

The Impact on Decision Making: There are six key stages identified in the decision making process which include in order:

  1. Identification of the Problem: Although this is the first stage this may be where morality can have the greatest impact. This is often the most difficult stage for the researcher and if it is not completed properly the results will be unsatisfactory regardless of the quality (or morality) of the work that follows. The framework that is built here constrains or sets the scope of the project. From an ethical perspective the first question of importance may be – is this really a problem at all? More times than not the focus of problems relates to the reduction of costs or increase in revenue (or that may be my business bias). At this point the problem needs to be resolved by a choice of means, which many find unfavorable. Some proponents of ethical decision-making challenge decision makers to evaluate whether the perceived problem truly is a problem. It sounds simple but in reality the process of considering all the potential alternatives, including do nothing, is not common. Business leaders are engrained with the belief that flexibility, change and adaptation are the answers.
  2. What is the Goal: The dilemma here is whether the goal is to solve the problem in an ethical manner or simply determine the most ethical goal. The conflict here is do you select a goal and then try to implement it in an effective matter later or do you choose your goals based on ethics. In a perfect world it would be optimal to choose a goal with ethics in mind, but in reality the maximized business goal is optimized by considering ethics in only a very general sense at this stage. Eliminate the few obvious options that are unlikely to have any ethical implementation and proceed forward.
  3. Possible Actions: Pending your theory on determining the goal will have a huge influence on the types of actions that make sense. Actions are primarily determined by the goal you wish to achieve. Nevertheless ethics should influence the actions you are willing to take within the scope of your goal.
  4. Predict Outcome: This may be the one stage in which ethics requires no change. Quantitative techniques are straightforward and merely calculate the results based on your inputs. The age-old computer theory of ‘garbage in – garbage’ out applies.
  5. Pick the best alternative: Is the best alternative simply the predicted outcome which maximizes goals or does it merely provide empirical results for comparison (with which you can rid the outliers). Formulate the choice as a maxim for all similar cases is a concept those in favour of ethics will promote. This is a recurring theme which involves looking outside any particular situation and seeing the forest for the trees.
  6. Implement Decision: In many cases this is an area where morality already plays a significant role in current business practice. Unions and significant regulations exist to ensure change is ‘ethical’. However, I would submit that real influence is found long before implementation. At this point you are just trying to minimize or trivialize perceived problems in the selected decision. Nonetheless for that reason it is important that decision makers consider the impacts of implementation. Hopefully if no satisfactory implementation can be found than the problem will be revisited rather than selecting the best of a group of bad choices, which is widespread..

An Application: Medical and Health-Care decision-making have been around since the time when Hippocrates developed his famous hippocritical oath for healers. This ancient philosopher wrote an oath that addressed the professional and ethical issues faced by physicians in their pursuit of healing individuals. The age-old problem has been how does a human being make such an important decision without any rhyme or reason?

Throughout time mistakes have led to the death of sick people. These mistakes have been made because of bad Medical and Health-Care decisions. The practice of making decisions related to the treatment of a condition or person in order to make them healthy is the primary focus of this literature (Web site) review. There has never been any formal body of knowledge that can assist a practitioner in choosing the appropriate course of action. Most of the major medical schools educate their students through a series of didactic methods and practical experience. The instructors have always taught using research and examples, yet there has not been a formalized mathematical approach to making Medical and Health-Care decisions due to the high subjectivity to these kinds of decisions.

Scientific research can eliminate definitively wrong decisions. However, with the fact that humans are the most complex entities in the world, decisions can not be a "one-size-fits-all".

Another Application: Lobby groups and labour unions are very interesting examples that potentially compromise ethics even though in many circumstances they have good intentions. By promoting the needs of a few over those of many can be considered unethical. This relates to David Ricardo’s comparative advantage of the nation. These groups also have a direct negative impact on people who are not a part of these groups. Yet it seems strange at first glance that promoting the interests of workers could in fact be immoral. The problems lies in the fact that the benefits do not extend to all workers despite the fact that decades ago these strides did in fact help all. However, now legislation exists to cover the most basic protections. One must also consider the fact that we will never know what market corrections may have remedied these issues on its own.

For a decision maker the impact of lobby groups and labour unions represent an area of misconduct on either side. Resources and funds that could be used in production are now allocated to tasks, which do not further a country’s growth. Some will argue that if business leaders had used ethical decision making then the need for unions would not have been required. You could also argue that getting involved in busting a union is making the ethical decision to improve the economy of the nation. What can be learned from this example? Other than the fact that ethics is not straightforward and that every situation is subjective this leads to the reality that Government has a role to ensure the few common standards are legislated. Beyond that the ultimate guide for a decision lies in the individuals hands.

The morally best course of action in any situation takes matters of economic and technical appropriateness into account, but is not overridden by these. Although this sounds noble I would take issue with the tendency to leans toward morality as the key decision influence. I feel that the economic and technical nature of a problem are the key determinants in decision making. Having said that I feel that ethics play a role in the majority of the stages of decision-making. Good process and analysis is not a barrier to morality. The key starts at the first stages of the decision process with problem identification and involves trying to ensure that one looks at the bigger picture and truly understanding what the goals are.

As stated earlier government plays a role to ensure basic protections are available to the entire population. For a business you have to expect people to be true to themselves. By our nature humans are self-interested and it’s a corporation’s responsibility to align the self-interest of its employees in the right direction. Corporate culture helps define this direction and can create an environment of ethical decisions.

Once the company culture is entrenched it is then necessary to hire the right people. Individuals make decisions and therefore employees will determine whether ethics are executed or become a problem. Once you have hired the right people it is necessary to have communication throughout the organization. Dialogue which includes the exploration of new meaning through discourse will facilitate ethical decisions. This gives the individual decision maker multiple inputs and a better grasp of the big picture. Finally organizations must be extremely careful to monitor potential situations of conflict of interest.

In this environment individuals will identify the problems, set goals and make decisions within the standard framework, which are both successful and ethical. The decision making process outlined earlier does not need to be modified but rather an organization needs to hire ethical people and provide them with an ethical environment. Effective decision-making and ethics are not mutually exclusive. In fact the utilization of an analytical decision making process will often flush out immoral decisions based on merit without any specific intent to do so.

Further Readings:
Cory J., Business Ethics: The Ethical Revolution of Minority Shareholders, Springer, 2005. The aim is to analyze why and how companies do not act ethically towards their minority shareholders, not how many, not which, not to what degree and not where.
Ferrell O., J. Fraedrich, and L. Ferrell, Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases, Houghton Mifflin Company; 5th ed., 2001.
Velasquez M., Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases, Prentice Hall; 5 ed., 2001.

Human Side of Decision Making

People do most effectively when they understand how their activities relate to the big picture. It gives meaning, purpose and relevance to what they do. For example, long range corporate planning and corporate financial structuring do not directly involve second line managers. On the other hand, they often participate in capital investment decisions concerning the purchase of new equipment. Matters of machine capacity, utilization, payout and return on investment are important considerations, which frequently involve these managers.

In large organizations a decision maker becomes valuable only as he recognizes the relation of his/her decision to that of all other decision makers within the organization because he/she may make more or less, or little difference to the organization, or may even be replaced. However, in small businesses the decision-maker can make, break, or prove to be very difficult to replace. The following are some practical and useful aphorisms for your strategic thinking while you are practicing applied side of decision science:

  1. Your company should be run and operated as you would expect it to be if you were the customer.
  2. Once you've developed a customer base, you have the most cost-effective and direct access to the single best source of future business.
  3. You don't have to blow out the other person's light in order to let your own shine.
  4. Components of the game: players, added values, rules, tactics, and scope.
  5. A player's product is complimentary to yours if customers value your product more when they have the other player's product than when they have your product alone.
  6. A player is your competitor if customers value your product less when they have the other player's product than when they have your product alone.
  7. A player's product is complimentary to yours if it's more attractive for a supplier to provide resources to you when it's also supplying the other player than when it's supplying to you alone.
  8. A player is your competitor if it's less attractive for a supplier to provide resources to you when it's also supplying the other player than when it's supplying to you alone.
  9. Benefits of Writing a Good Planning (Model): It gives you a current assessment of the business as well as a roadmap for the future. It helps your business grow, both organically and through outside funding, and it is essential to have in order to secure financing, ranging from a Small Business Administration loan to venture capital funding.
  10. If, instead of futilely fighting, threatened booksellers looked through the other end of the telescope, they might see that what they perceive as competition might actually be a complement. "Together, we can create an appetite that feeds our industry. If all of us - booksellers, publishers, distributors, and authors - do a good job of selling, more people will buy more books. And if we all work together towards the goal, we and our customers (the readers), will be that much happier."
  11. To prosper soundly in business, you must satisfy not only your customers, but you must lay yourself out to satisfy also the men who make your product and the men who sell it. This is in accordance with the implication of the "divisions of labor" in Adam Smith economics.
  12. When I am getting ready to reason with a person, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say, and two-thirds thinking about him/her and what he/she is going to say.
  13. The ability to see the situation as the other person sees it, as difficult as that may be, is one of the most important skills a negotiator can possess. It is not enough to know that they see things differently. If you want to influence them, you also need to understand empathetically the power of their point of view and to feel the emotional force with which they believe it. It is not enough to study them like beetles under a microscope; you need to know what it feels like to be a beetle. To accomplish this task, you should be prepared to withhold judgment, as you "try on" their views. They may believe that their views are "right" as strongly as you believe that your views are right. You may see the glass as half full of cold water. Your spouse may see a dirty, half-empty glass about to cause a ring on the mahogany finish.
  14. A tenet of Western culture is that there is no pleasure without a price. Basically, there is no free lunch.
  15. Pay me to play. There are better uses of your time.
  16. When you win the business, you lose money. The incumbent can retaliate.
  17. Your existing customers will want a better deal.
  18. New customers will use the low price as a benchmark.
  19. Competitors will also use the low price as a benchmark.
  20. It doesn't help to give your customers' competitors a better-cost position.
  21. Don't destroy your competitors' glass houses. However, those who live in glass houses should really do nothing at all!
  22. If you don't have a really tough competitor, you ought to invent one since competition is a way of life.
  23. Get into bed with the customer.
  24. Create a captive market.
  25. Say thank you with kindness, not cash.
  26. Save the best thank you for your best customers.
  27. Say thank you in a way that builds your business.
  28. Don't say thank you too quickly, or too slowly.
  29. Say that you're going to say thank you.
  30. Recognize that you may have to compete for loyalty.
  31. Allow your competitors to have loyal customers too.
  32. Don't forget to say thank you even if you have a monopoly.
  33. Say thank you to your suppliers, as well as to your customers.
  34. The Peacock's Tail: Females follow a simple rule -- look at all the males, and go for the one with the longest tail. Any female who departed from this rule was penalized, even if the tails had become so long that they actually encumbered males possessing them. This was because any female who did not produce long-tailed sons had little chance of producing a son that would be regarded as attractive. Like a fashion in women's clothes, or in American car design, the trend towards longer tails took off and gathered its own momentum.
    Someone suggested that the tails of birds of paradise and peacocks (that have always seemed paradoxical because they appear to be handicaps to their possessors), evolved precisely because they are handicaps. A male bird with a long and cumbersome tail is showing to females that he is such a strong male that he can survive in spite of his tail.
  35. For some products, it is samples. For other products, a limited-time or limited-capacity trial version works well. For still others, it is a public workshop that provides a service. A "starter" product or service lets customers try your lower-end offerings on decision making in purchasing your high-end, more expensive and complex products.
  36. Even when they are proven wrong, forecasters see it as important to maintain consensus in retrospect. For example, banks maintain as an article of faith that the depth of the the last [U.K.] recession and the magnitude of the property market collapse could not have been predicted. If it could have been, those responsible for the lending excesses of the 1980s would be guilty of gross negligence rather than being viewed as helpless victims of events. It is often more important to be wrong for the right reasons than to be correct.
  37. Value Pricing: In our unsuccessful pursuit of profits, we have made our pricing so complex that our customers neither understand it nor think it is fair. By moving to a new approach, which emphasizes simplicity, equity, and value, we hope to regain the good will of our customers. This is what Value Pricing should be about.

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The Games People Play in Trying to Win any Arguments:

  1. Carry your opponent's proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it; the more general your opponent's statement becomes, the more objections you can find against it. The more restricted and narrow your own propositions remain, the easier they are to defend.
  2. Use different meanings of your opponent's words to refute his argument. Example: Person A says, "You do not understand the mysteries of Kant's philosophy." Person B replies, "Oh, if it's mysteries you're talking about, I'll have nothing to do with them."
  3. Ignore your opponent's proposition, which was intended to refer to some particular thing. Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than what was asserted.
  4. Hide your conclusion from your opponent until the end. Mingle your premises here and there in your talk. Get your opponent to agree to them in no definite order. By this circuitous route you conceal your goal until you have reached all the admissions necessary to reach your goal.
  5. Use your opponent's beliefs against him. If your opponent refuses to accept your premises, use his own premises to your advantage. Example: If the opponent is a member of an organization or a religious sect to which you do not belong, you may employ the declared opinions of this group against the opponent.
  6. Confuse the issue by changing your opponent's words or what he or she seeks to prove. Example: Call something by a different name: "good repute" instead of "honor," "virtue" instead of "virginity," "red-blooded" instead of "vertebrates."
  7. State your proposition and show the truth of it by asking the opponent many questions. By asking many wide-reaching questions at once, you may hide what you want to get admitted. Then you quickly propound the argument resulting from the opponent's admissions.
  8. Make your opponent angry. An angry person is less capable of using judgment or perceiving where his or her advantage lies.
  9. Use your opponent's answers to your questions to reach different or even opposite conclusions.
  10. If your opponent answers all your questions negatively and refuses to grant you any points, ask him or her to concede the opposite of your premises. This may confuse the opponent as to which point you actually seek him to concede.
  11. If the opponent grants you the truth of some of your premises, refrain from asking him or her to agree to your conclusion. Later, introduce your conclusion as a settled and admitted fact. Your opponent and others in attendance may come to believe that your conclusion was admitted.
  12. If the argument turns upon general ideas with no particular names, you must use language or a metaphor that is favorable to your proposition. Example: What an impartial person would call "public worship" or a "system of religion" is described by an adherent as "piety" or "godliness" and by an opponent as "bigotry" or "superstition." In other words, inset what you intend to prove into the definition of the idea.
  13. To make your opponent accept a proposition, you must give him an opposite, counter-proposition as well. If the contrast is glaring, the opponent will accept your proposition to avoid being paradoxical. Example: If you want him to admit that a boy must do everything that his father tells him to do, ask him, "whether in all things we must obey or disobey our parents." Or, if a thing is said to occur "often," ask whether you are to understand "often" to mean few or many times, the opponent will say "many." It is as though you were to put gray next to black and call it white, or gray next to white and call it black.
  14. Try to bluff your opponent. If he or she has answered several of your questions without the answers turning out in favor of your conclusion, advance your conclusion triumphantly, even if it does not follow. If your opponent is shy or stupid, and you yourself possess a great deal of impudence and a good voice, the technique may succeed.
  15. If you wish to advance a proposition that is difficult to prove, put it aside for the moment. Instead, submit for your opponent's acceptance or rejection some true proposition, as though you wished to draw your proof from it. Should the opponent reject it because he suspects a trick, you can obtain your triumph by showing how absurd the opponent is to reject an obviously true proposition. Should the opponent accept it, you now have reason on your side for the moment. You can either try to prove your original proposition, as in #14, or maintain that your original proposition is proved by what your opponent accepted. For this an extreme degree of impudence is required, but experience shows cases of it succeeding.
  16. When your opponent puts forth a proposition, find it inconsistent with his or her other statements, beliefs, actions or lack of action. Example: Should your opponent defend suicide, you may at once exclaim, "Why don't you hang yourself?" Should the opponent maintain that his city is an unpleasant place to live, you may say, "Why don't you leave on the first plane?"
  17. If your opponent presses you with a counter-proof, you will often be able to save yourself by advancing some subtle distinction. Try to find a second meaning or an ambiguous sense for your opponent's idea.
  18. If your opponent has taken up a line of argument that will end in your defeat, you must not allow him to carry it to its conclusion. Interrupt the dispute, break it off altogether, or lead the opponent to a different subject.
  19. Should your opponent expressly challenge you to produce any objection to some definite point in his argument, and you have nothing to say, try to make the argument less specific. Example: If you are asked why a particular hypothesis cannot be accepted, you may speak of the fallibility of human knowledge, and give various illustrations of it.
  20. If your opponent has admitted to all or most of your premises, do not ask him or her directly to accept your conclusion. Rather, draw the conclusion yourself as if it too had been admitted.
  21. When your opponent uses an argument that is superficial and you see the falsehood, you can refute it by setting forth its superficial character. But it is better to meet the opponent with a counter-argument that is just as superficial, and so dispose of him. For it is with victory that you are concerned, not with truth. Example: If the opponent appeals to prejudice or emotion, or attacks you personally, return the attack in the same manner.
  22. If your opponent asks you to admit something from which the point in dispute will immediately follow, you must refuse to do so, declaring that it begs the question.
  23. Contradiction and contention irritate a person into exaggerating his statements. By contradicting your opponent you may drive him into extending the statement beyond its natural limit. When you then contradict the exaggerated form of it, you look as though you had refuted the original statement. Contrarily, if your opponent tries to extend your own statement further than you intended, redefine your statement's limits and say, "That is what I said, no more."
  24. State a false syllogism. Your opponent makes a proposition, and by false inference and distortion of his ideas you force from the proposition other propositions that are not intended and that appear absurd. It then appears that your opponent's proposition gave rise to these inconsistencies, and so it appears to be indirectly refuted.
  25. If your opponent is making a generalization, find an instance to the contrary. Only one valid contradiction is needed to overthrow the opponent's proposition. Example: "All ruminants are horned," is a generalization that may be upset by the single instance of the camel.
  26. A brilliant move is to turn the tables and use your opponent's arguments against himself. Example: Your opponent declares, "So and so is a child, you must make an allowance for him." You retort, "Just because he is a child, I must correct him; otherwise he will persist in his bad habits."
  27. Should your opponent surprise you by becoming particularly angry at an argument, you must urge it with all the more zeal. No only will this make your opponent angry, but it will appear that you have put your finger on the weak side of his case, and your opponent is more open to attack on this point than you expected.
  28. When the audience consists of individuals (or a person) who are not experts on a subject, you make an invalid objection to your opponent who seems to be defeated in the eyes of the audience. This strategy is particularly effective if your objection makes your opponent look ridiculous or if the audience laughs. If your opponent must make a long, winded and complicated explanation to correct you, the audience will not be disposed to listen to him.
  29. If you find that you are being beaten, you can create a diversion-that is, you can suddenly begin to talk of something else, as though it had a bearing on the matter in dispute. This may be done without presumption that the diversion has some general bearing on the matter.
  30. Make an appeal to authority rather than reason. If your opponent respects an authority or an expert, quote that authority to further your case. If needed, quote what the authority said in some other sense or circumstance. Authorities that your opponent fails to understand are those which he generally admires the most. You may also, should it be necessary, not only twist your authorities, but actually falsify them, or quote something that you have entirely invented yourself.
  31. If you know that you have no reply to the arguments that your opponent advances, you by a fine stroke of irony declare yourself to be an incompetent judge. Example: "What you say passes my poor powers of comprehension; it may well be all very true, but I can't understand it, and I refrain from any expression of opinion on it." In this way you insinuate to the audience, with whom you are in good repute, that what your opponent says is nonsense. This technique may be used only when you are quite sure that the audience thinks much better of you than your opponent.
  32. A quick way of getting rid of an opponent's assertion, or of throwing suspicion on it, is by putting it into some odious category. Example: You can say, "That is fascism" or "atheism" or "superstition." In making an objection of this kind you take for granted:
    1. That the assertion or question is identical with, or at least contained in, the category cited; and
    2. The system referred to has been entirely refuted.
  33. You admit your opponent's premises but deny the conclusion. Example: "That's all very well in theory, but it won't work in practice."
  34. When you state a question or an argument, and your opponent gives you no direct answer, or evades it with a counter-question, or tries to change the subject, it is sure sign you have touched a weak spot, sometimes without intending to do so. You have, as it were, reduced your opponent to silence. You must, therefore, urge the point all the more, and not let your opponent evade it, even when you do not know where the weakness that you have hit upon really lies.
  35. Instead of working on an opponent's intellect or the rigor of his arguments, work on his motive. If you succeed in making your opponent's opinion-should it prove true-seem distinctly prejudicial to his own interest, he will drop it immediately. Example: A clergyman is defending some philosophical dogma. You show him that his proposition contradicts a fundamental doctrine of his church. He will abandon the argument.
  36. You may also puzzle and bewilder your opponent by mere bombast. If your opponent is weak or does not wish to appear as if he has no idea what you are talking about, you can easily impose upon him some argument that sounds very deep or learned, or that sounds indisputable.
  37. Should your opponent be in the right but, luckily for you, choose a faulty proof, you can easily refute it and then claim that you have refuted the whole position. This is the way in which bad advocates lose good cases. If no accurate proof occurs to your opponent, you have won the day.
  38. Become personal, insulting and rude as soon as you perceive that your opponent has the upper hand. In becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn your attack on the person by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character. This is a very popular technique, because it takes so little skill to put it into effect.

Further Readings:
Berne E., Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, Reissue edition, Ballantine Books, 1996.
Harris T., I'm Ok - You're Ok: A Practical Guide to Transactional Analysis, Galahad Books, 1999.
Schopenhauer A., The Art Of Controversy, Kessinger Publishing, 2004
Twite G. and M. O'Keeffe, New Directions in Corporate Strategy, Allen & Unwin, 2000.

Personal and Public Views of Rationality

Consider the following example for the personal and public views of rationality. It is perfectly rational for an office worker to take his/her car heading home at the end of (around 5 PM, in US) a hard workday. However the outcome is very irrational for every one because it creates unbearable congestion on the major roads in the major cities.

As another case, consider an arrested criminal who thought very rationally about his action prior to committing the crime, however, the law and order punish the criminal rationally according the nature of the crime.

Psychological issues such as ambivalence, inner conflict, and the constraints imposed upon decision-makers by connections to others, reveal that our strategic thinking is often more subtle than standard theories of rationality allow.

The OR/MS/DS/SS decision-making process deals with complex problems by decomposing them into a list of strategic objectives. Then, it focuses on each individual objective to plan for a tactical solution. Good models make explicit the objectives, interactions among the inputs, and properties in a situation, and then structures them for inference and decision. When a problem cannot be solved using that information alone, the set of models must be 'flushed out' so that a new search for a possible model can be constructed. Most people use their beliefs in the attainment of their goals rather than a rational view. Rational strategic thinking is an issue for everyone. It is said that rational strategic thinking yields three essential statements:

  1. Whether a person can ever be said to have committed an error in reasoning.
  2. Whether some deductive problems are beyond the capacity of reasoners who are untrained in logic.
  3. Whether rationality is relative to culture.
Cognitive theory deals with the following questions:
  • What is the mind computing?
  • How is the mind doing it?
  • What people are really doing the reasoning and strategic thinking ?
These are unresolved questions. For example, with respect to the last question, cognitive theory does not try to test whether an inference is valid or a rule is true or false, but rather, searches for relevant information to update their beliefs. Relevant information is determined through a rational strategy. Rational analysis is based on the assumption that recognition will be optimally adapted to the structure of the environment.

Rationality behavior is adaptive rational if it is optimized to an organism's environment, i.e. if it helps to achieve its goals and it is consistent with logical rules. How did the idea of reasoning as a means to attain one's goals come about? Humans have a demonstrated capacity for highly intelligent action in achieving goals and thereby promoting the specie's survival and, for some, prosperity. However, at the same time, they embarrass themselves when they have their reasoning and decision processes tested. So, we appear rational from one angle, and irrational from another.

The term "rational" can be used to mean two fundamentally different things: Personal Rationality and Public Rationality. However, both are goal directed. Difficulties often arise when these two meanings are glossed over or confused.

Personal Rationality: Making a decision in a way that is generally reliable and efficient for achieving one's personal goals effectively. This kind of rationality, is 'Purpose-based Rationality'. It implies that the ends always rationalize the means. This is a version of the Machiavellian rationality, where individuals must overcome their social training and traditional ideas to seek their own way of making decisions. You may remember the song titles: "I Gotta Be Me" or "I Did It My Way."

Rational people make decisions that are best for them. This may be in terms of either psychological satisfaction or material gain. If a person carries out all the steps in the decision process and arrives at the resolution stage by the evaluation of the alternatives and predicting the outcomes, that person is regarded as rational if he/she acts upon the best action selected by the process. The process of internal balancing behavior in our rational strategic thinking is shown in the following diagram:

Public Rationality: Making a decision sanctioned by the law which requires evidence. This kind of rationality is 'Process-based Rationality' which means that the means must justify the ends. Within the domain of relevant law, it has to be a responsible and defensible decision.

Unfortunately, there are other isolated rationality types, such as the 'proof by pleasure principle' as opposed to the 'proof by contradiction principle'. However, failure to distinguish between these two distinct types of rationality can lead to empty or misleading judgment about human rationality.

Here is a question for you: The debate on abortion belongs to which of these two categories of rationality? Abortion is a "premeditated decision to murder." Or, as a leading feminist declared, "don't put your law into my body." It's a hard decision to make.

Global Social Decisions: In an increasingly globalize world, it is inevitable that many of the social problems which have so far been seen as national in character will assume a global character. Global social problems are those which cannot be confined within national boundaries and which need both national and international attention if they are to be ameliorated. Pollution of the atmosphere is a stark example of this process. Global Social Decisions must begin with an understanding of the contested concept of globalization and exploring the global social policies to the most important global social problems: Environmental Degradation, International Poverty, Crime, AIDS, Drugs, Family Violence, Racism and Migration.

Knowledge and Information Are Different: Thinking of them as similar or synonymous distorts the entire concept of managing intangible assets. When we speak or write, we use language to articulate some of our tactic knowledge in an attempt to pass it on to others, it is called information. Knowledge and information are often confused with each other. In the information technology industry, they are used as synonyms. Thus, the word information is usually associated with both facts and the communication of facts. Information is in many ways ideal for communicating explicit knowledge. It is fast, independent of the originator, and secure. All three of these features are of vital importance in the information technology era because the computer is designed to handle information. So it is tempting and seems commonsensical for the sender or speaker to attribute information with some sort of meaning. The trouble is people know more than they are conscious of or can put into words. For example, try to explain in words how to drive a golf ball or serve a tennis ball. These concepts are too complex to express fully in words. Attempts to do so are often ridiculous and almost always incomprehensible. The receiver of information – not the sender – gives it meaning. Information, as such, is meaningless. Information is perfect for broadcasting articulated knowledge but is unreliable an inefficient for transferring knowledge from person to person. It is best not to write but to talk when we wish to transfer knowledge.

Clearly such a distinction between knowledge and information is critical when discussing the contemporary challenge of knowledge management. It is valuable to further delineate different kinds of knowledge, and, more important, to better understand the appropriate means of transferring knowledge to others.

Kinds of Knowledge: One of the basic distinctions is the difference between information and knowledge and second to that is the related distinction between explicit and tacit knowledge. When we record what we know, we are making that knowledge explicit in the form of documents, graphics, or other concrete media, this is converting knowledge to information. Any form of knowledge that is made explicit is no longer knowledge but information. A well-used, but nevertheless important, metaphor uses an iceberg to show the relationship between explicit and tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is knowledge that enters into the production of behaviors and/or the constitution of mental states but is not ordinarily accessible to consciousness and is represented by the submerged portion of the iceberg. The part that is exposed above the water is explicit knowledge. The beauty of this analogy is that both the exposed and the submerged are parts of the same chunk of ice. If all you have explicit knowledge, you can’t do anything. Tacit knowledge makes explicit knowledge usable.

The three kinds of intellectual capital then are related to this model, with human capital represented by the submerged portion of the iceberg and structural capital by what is above the water. The management of structural knowledge involves raising the iceberg such that what was once human capital is now available to the organization in explicit form. Obviously, raising an iceberg is not an easy task and the analogy seems appropriate as the mass of tacit knowledge retained by the people in an organization will never surface. To better represent the portion of knowledge represented by the iceberg that is just below the surface of the water, I prefer to add a third distinction: implicit. Implicit knowledge is knowledge that can be codified but has not yet been made explicit.

This model then gives clarity to three distinctly different approaches to the management of intellectual capital, and each is further addressed in the following sections.

Explicit Knowledge: An organization can best capitalize on the exposed explicit knowledge by providing the technology and business processes necessary to make this codified content easily accessible to those who need it within the company and to principal customers and suppliers. A significant portion of the resources and effort around knowledge management involves the design, development, and deployment of effective knowledge repositories and document management systems that organize and catalogue, thus providing easy and rapid access to the massive amounts of explicit material (paper correspondence, electronic mail, specifications, procedures, patents, training, presentations, manuals, whitepapers, etc.) that can be generated by a company. Unfortunately, many of the existing approaches to management of these explicit knowledge assets resemble the way most of us organize our attics. This problem cab be describe using the metaphor of a small used book store where the books are distributed around the room in the cardboard boxes in which the originally arrived. The process for locating what we are looking for involves an exhaustive search through every one of the boxes since no effort was made to organize the content in any meaningful way.

Implicit Knowledge: Assuming there is an adequate system in place for handling the explicit knowledge of an organization, a second management approach involves capturing implicit knowledge by recording it in a structured way and thus converting it into information. This can involve the straightforward documentation of core business processes, procedures, and best-known methods in document form, but can also be the collection of video recordings from key customer or management presentations and conference addresses. The development of most forms of training and education programs involves the process of translating valuable expert knowledge into information. The results can be in the form of classroom, computer-based, or on-line training, or reference material utilizing streaming audio, video, or a combination of various media.

Tacit Knowledge: By definition, tacit knowledge cannot be codified and remains with the individual who developed it through a combination of formal learning and experience. The means for managing this kind of knowledge are not much different from those for managing human resources in general. Competitive processes need to be designed for the effective selection of knowledgeable hires, as well as the development of all employees, plus effective compensation and benefits programs to retain the talented and knowledgeable people on whom the organization depends for innovation and decision making. Specific focus should be on mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities that are the most effective means for transfer of tacit knowledge. In addition, the norms and culture of the organization should be shaped and developed to support and encourage the sharing of knowledge and the importance of innovation and risk taking.

Knowledge and a Culture of Learning: The explicit culture can be understood and at one level managed by the physical artifacts or documented mission, vision, values, operating philosophies, and policies of the organization that lie above the surface of the water. The implied culture is simply the actual culture as experienced by the people in the organization and can be made explicit through observations of the actions, espoused values, attitudes, and decisions that people make. However, at the root, and the most difficult to expose, are the tacit knowledge, basic assumptions, or mental models held by people that give rise to their felt values and ultimately observable behavior.

Five elements comprise the core learning message to make it compelling in engaging people’s passion. They are: a positive vision of the future; inspiring core values; engaging and inclusive leadership style; emotional intelligence competencies; and leadership courage.

Assessing the Motivating Potential of Jobs: Any job can be designed, or assessed and redesigned, to be more compelling. That is, any job can be inherently motivating for an employee to perform. It is all a matter of holistic engagement. Only jobs that engage the hands, mind, heart, and spirit of an employee are truly holistically engaging, and thus inherently motivating for employees. And each of these levels of employee engagement does not afford equal motivational impact. Arguably, only by engaging the heart and the spirit of an employee does an organization ever access half of that employee’s motivation, this paints a sobering picture for most leaders, especially when they accurately recognize that most jobs continue to be designed and staffed with only hands and mind engagement, and too often only hands engagement, as design factors that are intentionally considered.

By assigning subscores of one to ten to each of the four design components (hands, mind, heart, spirit), and then multiplying these subscores by the factors assigned to each design component (hand = 10 percent, mind = 40 percent, heart = 20 percent, and spirit = 30 percent), and overall assessment of the level of holistic engagement and related employee motivation afforded by a particular job can be determined. Thus, the formula for determining the holistic Engagement Score (ES) associated with a job is as follows:

ES = 0.1HandsScore + 0.4MindScore + 0.2HeartScore + 0.3SpiritScore,

The range for ES is the lowest possible ES being 1 and the highest being 10.

Further Readings:
Dodwell P., Brave New Mind: A Thoughtful Inquiry into the Nature and Meaning of Mental Life, Oxford University Press, 2000.
French S., Decision Theory: An Introduction to the Mathematics of Rationality, Halsted Press, 1986.
Fodor J., The Mind Doesn't Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology, MIT Press, 2000. It argues against the view that mental processes are largely computations, that the architecture of cognition is massively modular, and that the explanation of our innate mental structure is basically Darwinian (these views are discussed in the Pinker's How the Mind Works book).
Manktelow K., Reasoning and Thinking, Psychology Press, UK, 1999.
Pinker S., How the Mind Works, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999.
Rapoport A., Decision Theory and Decision Behaviour: Normative and Descriptive Approaches, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989.
Upmeyer A., Attitudes and Behavioral Decisions, Springer-Verlag, 1989.
Wright G. (Ed.), Behavioral Decision Making, Plenum Press, 1985.

Human Understanding in a Historical Context

In this section we are interested in a historical development view of knowledge; that is how we came to know recently as Modeling-Knowledge:

Knowledge-Modelling Categories and Their Principles

Factual Knowledge:
It is based on universal reasoning that includes hypothesis testing, and mathematics, it required intellectual thinking
Cognitive Knowledge:
It is based on empirical facts that includes know-how, and object knowledge, it required training
Principal Knowledge:
It is based on conjecture such as metaphysics, it belong to realm of appearances
Subjective Knowledge:
It is based on belief, it belong to realm of deceptions

The modeling process, i.e., human understanding has a proud tradition in the Western thoughts. The following table presents a few more giant model-builders, from ancient times starting with Aristotelian qualitative World View that dominated the western thoughts for over twenty centuries to the quantitative world view of today.

Galileo Descartes  Hume
Newton  Spinoza  Adam Smith 
Einstein  Darwin Mill

The following human figure depicts the historical development of knowledge starting from the qualitative up to the quantitative world views. The right leg (the left leg in the figure) represents the Aristotelian view. The other leg represents the theological view. Western knowledge was started by Aristotle. Aristotle believed, Everything wants to be at rest unless something moves it. The question was: Who is the first mover? Aristotle's answer was God. The theologians loved this view to justify their beliefs. The Medieval era rested on these two legs: Aristotelian metaphysics and Christian theology. For example, Shakespeare thought, those who move stones are themselves stones, unmovable and unshakable.

Click on the image to enlarge it and THEN print it.
Historical Development of Knowledge: Pre-Modern Time

Click on the image to enlarge it and THEN print it.
Historical Development of Knowledge: The Modern View

The left arm in the figure represents the Renaissance, and the right arm represents the era of Enlightenment. During the Renaissance art and literature flourished. In the Medieval era, people only believed what the authorities told them to believe. During the Enlightenment, freedom of thought allowed mankind to think and to question authority. When you have questions, you need answers. The neck represents the logic needed to support the thought. The head represents the quantitative era. The quantitative era was started by Newton who developed a scientfic method:

Newton's finding turn upside down the Aristotelian view. For example Newton shows that everything wants to move. The reason something is at rest is because of resistance. For example, the table rests on the floor.

Newton was very important because the Aristotelian view dominated human thought in all areas for twenty centuries. With Newton, Aristotelian view faded. From the time of Newton not only all things in external nature, but the subtlest mysteries of life and organization, and even of the intellect and moral being, were conjured within the language of mathematics and the tools of mathematical modeling process.

Traditionally, logic and mathematics have been considered exemplary cases of fields in which our knowledge is a priori. Consequently, questions about the epistemological status and ontological import of logical and mathematical truths have recurred throughout the intellectual history. Of interest are: the nature of logic and mathematics, the nature of logical and mathematical knowledge, the relationship of logic to ontology, and the question of how our minds are able to think about and come to know logical and mathematical truths.

The following list provides a short review of the modeling developments in a historical context. Walking through this timeline also helps you to look at yourself not as an individual but as also a mankind:

A Timeline of Historical Modeling Developments of Knowledge

Gorgias (483-378 BC): He stated that knowledge does not exit nor can be communicated if existed, because of its subjectivity.

Heraclitus (535-475 BC): Maintained that wisdom is not the knowledge of many things; it is clear knowledge of one thing only. Perfect knowledge is only given to the Gods, but a progress in knowledge is possible for "men."

Empedocles (c.450 BC): He distinguished between the world as presented to our senses and the intellectual world.

Antisthenes (440-370 BC): Maintained that happiness is a branch of knowledge that could be taught, and once acquired can not be lost.

Euclid (430-360 BC): Maintained that knowledge is virtue. If knowledge is virtue, it can only be the knowledge of the ultimate being.

Protagoras (485-415 BC): Maintained that knowledge is relative since it is based on individual experiences. Geometric-arithmetic modeling developed.

Plato (427-322BC): He was one of Socrates students. He maintained that knowledge can exist based on unchanging and invisible Forms or Ideas. Objects that are sensed are imperfect copies of the pure forms. Genuine knowledge about these forms can be achieved only by abstract reasoning through philosophy and mathematics. Plato founded the Academy in Athens, the first university. Aristotle was among its graduates.

Aristotle (384-322 BC): Followed Plato, but maintained that knowledge is derived from sense experiences. Knowledge can be gained either directly or indirectly by deduction using logic. Aristotle founded the Lyceum in Athens, rival school to the Academy. Archimedes and Euclid are among its graduates.

Plotinus (205-270): Plotinus’ principal assumptions can be stated as follows: (1) truth exists and that it is the way the world exists in the mind or the intellect; (2) the awareness of the world as it exists in the intellect is knowledge; and (3) two kinds of truth exist, the contingent truth is that ten coins are in pocket, and a necessary truth is that four plus six equals to ten.

529: Closure of Academy in Athens by Emperor Justinian. The Dark Ages began.

Aquinas (1224-1274): Followed the schools of Plato and Aristotle and added religious belief and faith.

Islamic Science Arrival: The Islamic scholars work in medicine, astronomy, chemistry and mathematics was introduced to Europe during the 13th century. Among others, the Persian scholar al-Khwarizmi gave his name to what we now call an algorithm, and the word algebra is derived from al-jabr, the beginning word in the title of one of his many publications in Arabic.

Death of Roman Numbers: The Widespread adaptation of the numeral system we refer to as Arabic numbers in art, science and accounting during the Renaissance era. The introduction of zero as a symbol as well as a number was the most significant achievement in the development of a number system, in which calculation with large numbers became feasible. Without the notion of zero, the descriptive and prescriptive modeling processes in commerce, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and industry would have been unthinkable. The lack of such a symbol for zero is one of the serious drawbacks in the Roman numeral system. In addition, the Roman numeral system is difficult to use in any arithmetic operations. The Roman numeral mostly used as decoration and not in performing any arithmetic operations.

16th Century: Renaissance era started in Florence and spread quickly. There were over 300 states in Europe, however, statehood-countries began, France was the first country. Revival of pre-Socrates world view. Copernicus modeled that the earth revolves around the sun. Galilee was forced to recant heliocentric model of the universe and put under house-arrest. America continent was found and occupied by European countries.

Bacon (1561-1626): He criticized Aristotelian logic as useless for the discovery of new laws; and formulated rules of inductive inference.

Descartes (1596-1650): As the father of modern philosophy, identified rationalism as a system of thought that emphasized the role of reason and priori principles in obtaining knowledge. He also believed in the dualism of mind (thinking substance) and body (extended substance). Descartes unified algebra and geometry by his analytical-geometry concepts. Roman numeral is replaced by based-ten numeral system to simplify arithmetic operations.

Spinoza (1632-1677): Termed metaphysical (i.e., cosmological concepts such as substance and mode, thought and extension, causation and parallelism, and essence and existence. He extended rationality and deductive reasoning to human activities, including our motives.

Newton (1642-1727): The first who applied mathematics to the study of nature. Aristotelian world view was rejected by Newton's models. Mathematical modeling era started. The first Operations Research (OR) society was established in 1948, meaning that OR was recognized as a profession in aiding the decision makers.

Locke (1632-1704): Identified empiricism as a doctrine that affirms that all knowledge is based on experience, especially sense perceptions, and on posteriori principles. Locke believed that human knowledge of external object is always subject to the errors of the senses, and concluded that one cannot have absolutely certain knowledge of the physical world.

Berkeley (1685-1753): Agreed with Locke that knowledge comes through ideas, i.e., sensation of the mind, but he denied Locke’s belief that a distinction can be made between ideas and objects.

Hume (1711-1776): Asserted that all metaphysical things that cannot be directly perceived are meaningless. Hume divided all knowledge into two kinds: relations of ideas, i.e., the knowledge found in mathematics and logic which is exact and certain but provides no information about the world, and matters of fact, i.e., the knowledge derived from sense perceptions. Furthermore, he held that even the most reliable laws of science might not always remain true. Hume's Treatise of Human Nature introduced logic into Empiricism. Adam Smith' Wealth of Nations was published. His ideas are the foundation of both the British and American Economy.

Kant (1724-1804): Provided a compromise between empiricism and rationalism by combining both types, and distinguished three knowledge types:

  1. an analytical priori,
  2. a synthetic posteriori, and
  3. a synthetic priori.
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason started the great era of modern thinkers.

Hegel (1770-1831): He claimed as rationalist that absolutely certain knowledge of reality can be obtained by equating the processes of thought, of nature and of history. His absolute idealism was based on dialectical process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis as cyclical and ongoing process.

1776: The Enlightenment era's ideas fueled the American Revolution. Human beings finally gained their right to decide for themselves.

Comte (1798-1857): Brought attention to the importance of sociology as a branch of knowledge and extended the principles of positivism, the notion that empirical sciences are the only adequate source of knowledge.

Marx (1818-1883): Developed the philosophy of dialectical materialism, based on the logic of Hegel.

Darwin (1809-1882): Darwin's theory of evolution is based on five key observations and inferences drawn from them.

  • First, species have great fertility. They make more offspring than can grow to adulthood.
  • Second, populations remain roughly the same size, with modest fluctuations.
  • Third, food resources are limited, but are relatively constant most of the time. From these three observations it may be inferred that in such an environment there will be a struggle for survival among individuals.
  • Fourth, in sexually reproducing species, generally no two individuals are identical. Variation is rampant.
  • Finally, much of this variation is heritable.
From this it may be inferred: In a world of stable populations where each individual must struggle to survive, those with the "best" characteristics will be more likely to survive, and those desirable traits will be passed to their offspring. These advantageous characteristics are inherited by following generations, becoming dominant among the population through time.

Nietzsche (1844-1900): Schopenhauer's pessimistic world view was spread. Later, this nihilistic view was challenged by Nietzsche's life affirmation and its enhancement ideas. Nietzsche put also an end to metaphysics, concluded that traditional philosophy and religion are both erroneous and harmful, and traditional values had lost their power in the lives of individuals. Therefore, there are nor rules for human life, no absolute values, and no certainties on which to reply.

Bradley (1846-1924): Maintained that reality was a product of the mind rather than an object perceived by the senses; like Hegel, nothing is altogether real except the Absolute, the totality of everything which transcends contradiction. Everything else, such as religion, science, moral precept, and even common sense is contradictory.

Royce (1855-1916): Believed in an absolute truth and held that human thought and the external world were unified.

Pierce (1839-1914): He developed pragmatism, as a theory of meaning, in particular, the meaning of concepts used in science. The only rational way to increase knowledge was to form mental habits that would test ideas through observation and experimentation leading to an evolutionary process for humanity and society, i.e., a perpetual state of progress. He believed that the truth of an idea or object could only be measured by empirical investigation of its usefulness.

Dewey (1859-1952): He developed pragmatism into a comprehensive system of thought that he called experimental naturalism, or instrumentalism. Naturalism regards human experience, intelligence, and social communities as ever evolving mechanisms; therefore human beings could solve social problems using their experience and intelligence, and through inquiry.

Husserl (1859-1938): Developed phenomenology as an elaborate procedure by which one is said to be able to distinguish between the way things appear to be, and the way one thinks they really are.

Durkheim (1858-1917): He is credited with attempting the first scientific approach to social phenomena, coining the sociological term social fact to describe distinct units of social information, and The Division of Labor in Society.

Freud (1856-1939): Freud sought to explain how the unconscious operates by proposing that it has a particular structure. He proposed that the unconscious was divided into three parts: Id, Ego, and Superego.

Einstein (1879-1955): Einstein modeled relativity and extended Newton's models . Formulated the special theory of relativity and the general theory of relativity; he also proposed that light consists of discrete quantized bundles of energy (later called photons).

Wittgenstein (1889-1951): Developed logical positivism that maintained that only scientific knowledge exists verifiable by experience. He viewed philosophy as a linguistic analysis and "language games" leading to his work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) that asserted language, or the world, are composed of complex propositions, or into less complex facts, arriving at simple "picture atomic facts or states of affairs" respectively. In short, language as useful to convey sense-experience and logic/mathematics and all else is meaningless

Heidegger(1889-1976): In his "Basic Writings as Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics" Heidegger stated that "..we must now show in what sense the foundation of the modern mathematical science of nature and the origin of the critique of pure reason is essentially mathematical. With this intention we shall try to set forward an essential step of modern science in its main outline. This will make clear what the mathematical consists of and how its thus unfolds its essence, but also becomes established in a certain direction." Heidegger taught philosophy of mathematics at the University of Freiburg in Breisgau.

Austin (1911-1960): Developed the speech-act theory, in which language utterances might not describe reality and can have an effect on reality.

Rawls (1921- 2002): Eliminating knowledge of personal characteristics eliminates the possibility of bias and thus enforces the kind of impartiality or disinterestedness.

Foucault (1926-1984): Knowledge is power: Power produces knowledge (and not simply by encouraging it because it serves power or by applying it because it is useful); that power and knowledge directly imply one another; that there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge.

Habermas (1929-): Knowledge can be interpreted as the science of man that appears under categories of knowledge for control. At the level of the self-consciousness of social subjects, knowledge that makes possible the control of natural processes turns into knowledge that makes possible the control of the social life process.

Derrida: (1930-2004): His anti-metaphysic stance is not unique, but derives from his readings of Heidegger who in Being and Time and later works presented a clear argument against the philosophical monopoly created by Aristotelian ontological taxonomy.

Rorty (1931- ): He emphasis on the fact that the idea of knowledge as representation (a model), as a mental mirroring of a mind-external world. However, he sees knowledge as a matter of conversation and of social practice, rather than as an attempt to mirror nature.

Nozick (1938-2002): His development of an externalist theory of knowledge and his "closest continuer" account of personal identity has been particularly influential.

Simon (1916-2001): He demonstrated that the decision-making is far away from the "rational man".

The decision can be either personal or public; however both required the same decision-making process. The field of decision-making is growing as a measuring tool and process for helping people to make good decisions. However, there are many tools that either fail to properly integrate, or simply lack an analysis of showing how emotions help or hinder decision making and the role of creative and critical thinking together with working out what values are at issue in making decisions.

The main question is how the decision process must be carried out adequately? The answer is the realization of the fact that decision-making is the heart of being human and requires a multidisciplinary approach. For example, the role and core of emotions are judgment through revaluation of all values. This realization allows us to make sense of both the rationalist view that emotions are a hindrance, and the individual notion that emotions are major considerations. Decision-making involves unpacking emotions to see what they can reliably tell us about the situation, our values, and potential options and how they can motivate us. However, critical thinking needs to be employed throughout the decision-making process so that we adequately understand the situation and assess potential values and creative options. The driving force of making a decision is the values we wish to realize with our decision.

One must explore the skills and knowledge necessary to facilitate a decision making process. There are four categories of insights and methods, which we have learnt to be of key significance to decision-making

Aristotle’s Ideas About Practical Knowledge: In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle makes a distinction on two kinds of knowledge that is of the greatest relevance to the practical decision consultant and the decision maker. By theoretical knowledge he means knowledge of things that do not change, which in ethics means the general, universal things we can say about what is really right and wrong, and what is living well and living badly. For Aristotle, the moral virtue is a state of character in which we are disposed to feel things in accordance with the means, that is, to feel them in the right way, to the right person, at the right time, for the right reason. However, theoretical knowledge on its own is not enough to lead a flourishing human life. We also need practical knowledge, which for Aristotle means knowing the right thing to do in a particular circumstance through understanding the circumstance rightly, knowing what matters, and effective means-end reasoning to bring about what matters. One can know the right thing to do in general, and what is required, as theoretical knowledge, but this is of little use if one fails to apply this knowledge to this situation. Therefore, developing Aristotle’s insights, the decision consultant and the decision maker need both theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. These conditions can be understood as a series of stages in decision-making:

Understanding the situation and decision: The decision-maker needs to understand the decision being faced, and the situation it is located in, as accurately, open-mindedly and fully as is reasonable.

Understanding what matters: the decision-maker needs to understand what really his/her ultimate objective is. What values are at stake? Aristotle emphasized the archer is more likely to hit the target if they are aware of what that are aiming at. The important values are the target, so without an awareness of what matters the decision-maker does not know what they are aiming at, and have no criterion on which to make the decision.

Searching for options: Even if the decision-maker understands the situation and appreciate what matters, they still need to be aware of the possible options. If they mistakenly think they are limited to two options, when a third option, not thought of, and actually would fulfill more of what matters, then they would not have made as wise decision a decision as they could have.

Choosing the best option: Each option needs to be assessed in a logical manner, choosing that option which, given a sound understanding of the situation, satisfies as much as possible of what matters. If we lack the critical powers to assess these options, then we will still fail to make wise decisions.

Implementing the decision: Finally, the decision-maker prepares for implementing the decision, armed with a fallback plan and follow-up activities to check on the implementation. Once the decision-maker has made a selection of the best option, they need to make a final check on it, and work out how to implement and monitor it.

We will now explore in turn the ways in which the emotions, creative and critical thinking and ethics can be used to help wise decision-making.

Spinoza on the Emotions: Unpacking the emotional core of a decision is, we believe, and will illustrate below, vital. There are various philosophers we have found to be of most use in helping dealing us towards wise decision-making.

Spinosa’s idea that the emotions contain their own logic; and their own reason by arguing that emotions are very much like a sense which helps us to detect value. Emotions, although they have their own logic, are not necessarily reliable. Indeed, not only are they often motivated by our needs, but they also distort our picture of the world. Given the cognitive content of the emotion we can see that emotional knowledge lies in making sound judgments about the significance of an event, and an appropriate reaction to it. As For decision-making we must not ignore the emotions – else we risk both missing out their informational value and allowing them to distort our view of the situation, the problem, what matters, our options and our ability to implement the decision. The decision-making consultant can help in a number of ways, both in dealing with the particular decision being faced by asking the decision-makers about their emotions. What do they feel – is it anger, anxiety, excitement, or being overwhelmed? Next, we need to question them what this emotion is about. If they are angry what is this anger directed towards, if they are feeling overwhelmed what about the problem seems overwhelming to them, if they are excited what about the decision excites them. Thirdly, we need to ask – and here the greatest skill and tack is required - whether, on reflection, this emotion is appropriate.

Nietzsche’s Critical and Creative Thinking: Creative thinking is the generation of thoughts, ideas, decisions and actions, often by novel and unexpected means. Such thinking is useful at different stages in the process of decision-making.

How the situation is framed can be crucially important to determining how the decision-maker proceeds. Revaluation of all values is Nietzsche’s phrase for creative thinking, which involves 'pattern-switching within a patterning system' as a way to get multi-perspectives on understanding the problem being faced. What is needed is overcoming rather than suffering. Critical thinking is a process, the goal of which is to think for yourself in order to make reasonable decisions about what to believe and what to do. The decision consultant’s role is not just to help the decision makers to think skillfully, but also to care about how their thinking is being used. Critical thinking needs to be applied throughout the decision-making process, in gaining an accurate understanding the situation, in assessing values, in assessing options and in carrying out and monitoring the chosen option.

The Ethics of Right and Wrong:When making decisions that are mainly of a prudential nature, we can draw on ideas from thinkers like Nozick about states of mind and states of the world. In considering the ethical dimensions of a decision, we can in addition learn from Hume and other utilitarian about considering the interests of other parties, the deontologists about their rights and our corresponding duties, and Kant about what should happen, regardless of the role we have in the decision.

Nozick suggests that our conclusion should not be that states of mind do not matter, but that states of the world matter as well as states of mind. In general, people do think that their experiences matter; but what also matters is the relationship of their experiences to reality, and things that are happening in the world outside their experiences.

These insights are of direct relevance to the decision-making consultant when they are helping the decision-maker to think about what matters in a specific situation. The decision-maker will normally be asked first to list the things that seem to matter in the situation. Utilitarian’ ideas about consequences and other parties are useful, e.g., when a consultant asks the decision makers to list the other parties affected by their decision and what their interests are. Whilst the utilitarian alert us to the interests of other parties, Kant remind us that, regardless of the consequences, their might be some rights that other people have in this situation, and corresponding to these rights, duties on our parts

The above multi-perspectives provide a rich range of skill for both consultant and the decision maker. It is important therefore that the decision consultant chooses which of these seem relevant, and offers each tentatively as something the client may want to consider, rather than dogmatically insisting upon a viewpoint. On the other hand, the consultant should not accept the answers given as final, the tools of critical thinking are particularly useful ways of checking that the client is considering long-term consequences and other parties.

The introduction of zero into the decimal system was the most significant achievement in the development of a number system in which calculation with large numbers become feasible. Without the notion of zero modeling process in astronomy, physics, and chemistry would have been unthinkable. The lack of such a symbol is one of the serious drawbacks in Roman numeral system, beside being difficult to use in any arithmetic operations such as multiplication.

The above timeline table indicates the major historical events relevant to the developments of the modeling process as we know it today. Thus, the quantitative modeling process of our knowledge has a short history of about 300 years. So, from a historical perspective, our management knowledge is even younger, however it is growing very fast and much stronger. The quantitative processing approach to knowing is spreading in almost all fields to make the world calculable and, therefore more manageable.

The most effective model includes personality dynamics that are strong in the emotional, physical and mental principles. The results will be a microworld model for representing reality and a boundary object model, for example, for negotiating for a social order.

Further Readings:
Dijksterhuis E., The Mechanization of the World Picture: Pythagoras to Newton, Princeton University Press, 1986
Grimm R., Nietzsche's Theory of Knowledge, New York, W. de Gruyter, 1977.
Hales S., and R. Welshon, Nietzsche's Perspectivism, University of Illinois Press, 2000.
Kim J., Mind in a Physical World, MIT Press, 2000. Discussing and critically commenting on the mind-body problem and mental causation.
Phillips G., Two Millennia of Mathematics: From Archimedes to Gauss, Springer Verlag, 2000.
Pidd M. (ed.), Systems Modelling: Theory and Practice, Wiley, 2004.
Seagal S., and D. Horne, Human Dynamics: A New Framework for Understanding People and Realizing the Potential in Our Organizations, Pegasus Communications, 1997.
Thagard P., Coherence in Thought and Action, MIT Press, 2001.
Traub J., On reality and models, in Boundaries and Barriers: On the Limits to Scientific Knowledge, J. Casti and A. Karlqvist, (eds.), Addison-Wesley, 1996, 238-251.

General Further Readings

Carr N., Does It Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2004. The information technology (IT) provides the edge necessary for business success. IT has been transformed from a source of advantage into a commoditized "cost of doing business"-with huge implications for business management with respect to cost control and risk management over innovation and investment.

Chakravorti B., The Slow Pace of Fast Change: Bringing Innovations to Market in a Connected World, Published by Harvard Business School Publishing, 2003. Innovation's encounter with the market results in a game of both high risk and high stakes. Often its outcome defies common sense: Superior new products flop, unlikely ideas become runaway hits, and -- despite rapid technological advances and intense interconnectedness -- change happens at a snail's pace. What really happens during this encounter? How can you increase your own odds on this complex game board? In The Slow Pace of Fast Change, the book peels back the many factors that govern an innovation's penetration into interconnected markets.

Dorner D., Logic of Failure, Perseus Publishing, 1997. It provides a compass for intelligent planning and decision-making that can sharpen the skills of managers and policy-makers everywhere.

Jones M., The Thinker's Toolkit: Fourteen Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving, Crown Publishing Group, 1997.

Johnson S., "Yes" or "No": The Guide to Better Decisions, HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.

Klein G., Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions, Published by MIT Press, 1999.

Nalebuff B., and I. Ayres, Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2003.

Schwarz R., The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches, Wiley, John & Sons, 2002. The book is a classic work for consultants, facilitators, managers, leaders, trainers, and coaches -- anyone whose role is to guide groups toward realizing their creative and problem-solving potential. It contains proven techniques for starting meetings on the right foot and ending them positively and decisively such as ground rules for group interaction, handling emotions when they arise in a group and offers a diagnostic approach for identifying and solving problems that can undermine the group process.

Tichy T., and E. Cohen, The Leadership Engine: How Winning Companies Build Leaders at Every Level, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002. Why do some companies consistently win in the marketplace while others struggle from crisis to crisis? The answer might be that winning companies possess a system for creating dynamic leaders at every level. Technologies, products and economies constantly change. To get ahead and stay ahead, companies need agile, flexible, innovative leaders who can anticipate change and turn on a dime to respond to new realities.

Tracy B., Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2001. A "frog" is a metaphor for the most challenging task of your day-the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life if you accomplish it successfully.

Watkins M., First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2003. It outlines proven strategies that will dramatically shorten the time it takes to reach what Watkins calls the "breakeven point": the point at which your organization needs you as much as you need the job.

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