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Human Relations in the Organization:Chapter 6 Making Decisions Study Guide/Notes

6.1 Making Decisions

  • Which decision-making process is used most often at Google?

Decisions at Google are made through consensus. Even the top team leads by consensus rather than through the orders of a manager or the CEO.

  • Which of the following is the primary way that Google facilitates teamwork?

The open-office layout helps facilitate teamwork and coworker bonding, with few employee being given overt perks like private offices. This creates a flat hierarchy that allows everyone to work together at his or her best.

  • What is one concrete way that Google cultivates new ideas and experimentation?

Google encourages its engineers to spend 20 percent of their time on personal projects or new ideas.

6.2 Understanding Decision Making

  • Nancy is the office manager and special assistant to the CEO. As such, she is in charge of tasks like ordering office supplies when they are low. Nancy makes what kind of decision when she orders office supplies?

A programmed decision occurs with enough frequency that the organization has developed an automated response to it; i.e., Nancy orders office supplies when they get low.

  • In the example with Nancy, she always orders ten reams of paper, ten boxes of pens, three boxes of staples, and thirty boxes of sticky notes. Since she always orders the same items, what is she using to make this decision?

The automated response to a programmed decision is called the decision rule. This rule suggests that every time this decision comes up, the same response should be given. That means that Nancy always orders the same office supplies when they get low.

  • The company you work for has recently come under fire from the press as people complain about the quality of your product. There have been product recalls, and the CEO has held press conferences and largely fielded the negative criticisms well, with promises of increased quality-assurance checks and more high-level eyes on the product before it is shipped. The CEO has been making what types of decisions during this situation?

Nonprogrammed decisions are unique, important, and involve critical thinking, research, and consideration of the options. The CEO has not dealt with this crisis before, and is making unique, critical, and important decisions.

  • Which of the following is an example of a question that would be asked when making a tactical decision?

Tactical decisions are related to how things are accomplished within the organization. Managers are typically responsible for making tactical decisions, and hiring new employees falls under the tactical decision-making umbrella.

  • Who typically makes operational decisions within an organization?

Operational decisions are decisions made by employees every day. Managers make tactical decisions, while CEOs, CFOs, and boards of directors make strategic decisions.

  • You are a member of the board of directors, and you are meeting with the board in order to decide on the vision and direction of the company for the next five years. What types of decisions will you and the board be making during this meeting?

Strategic decisions set the course of an entire company, and can include mergers, downsizing, new product lines, and the purchase of another company.

6.3 Self-Assessment 13: Decisions

  • What did you learn about yourself from this self-assessment?
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I scored a 67 on the decision making self-assessment. My score of 67 means that I have an excellent approach to decision-making. I learned that I am good at knowing how to set up the process and generate lots of potential solutions, analyzing the options carefully, and making the best decision based on my knowledge of the situation.

6.4 Making Rational Decisions

  • Which of the following BEST describes the rational decision-making model?

The rational decision-making model is a series of steps that is designed to ensure that the decision maker is choosing the best possible decision.

  • You have decided that you would like to pursue a new career in graphic design. Since you have no formal artistic schooling, you decide to go back to school. In determining which school to choose, you must decide which factors are important to you. Which step of the rational decision-making model is this?

According to the text, this is step two (establishing decision criteria) of the rational decision-making model. The next step would be to rank the factors you chose in order of importance.

  • What is the first step in the rational decision-making model?

The first step is to identify the problem, followed by establishing decision criteria, weighing decision criteria, generating alternatives, evaluating alternatives, choosing the best alternative, implementing the decision, and finally evaluating the decision.

  • What is the most difficult step in the rational decision-making process?

Research suggests that generating alternatives (step four) can be the most challenging part of the process, and it often leads to failure.

  • Often, too much information is presented and more and more time is spent by the decision maker gathering research and evaluating alternatives. No decision is typically made in this situation. This is an example of what aspect of the rational decision-making model?

Analysis paralysis refers to spending so much time thinking about the decision and all the alternatives that no decision is ever made.

.5 Making “Good Enough” and Intuitive Decisions

  • Which of the following BEST describes the bounded rationality model of making decisions?

Since we can only process so much information, the bounded rationality model allows the decision maker to knowingly limit the available options to a manageable set and then choose the best alternative from that set.

  • Which of the following accurately summarizes “satisficing”?

Satisficing is a part of the bounded rationality model and entails choosing the first alternative that meets your minimum criteria.

  • According to the intuitive decision-making model, experts make decisions using which of the following?

According to the intuitive decision-making model, experts use environmental clues, experience, knowledge, and training to make intuitive decisions in the field, evaluating only one option at a time.

6.6 Making Creative Decisions

  • Which step in the creative decision-making model entails not thinking about the problem for a period?

In the incubation stage, the problem is set aside for a period as the brain unconsciously works on the problem.

  • Which of the following refers to the number of ideas a person is able to generate during the creative decision-making process?

Fluency is the sheer number of ideas that one person is able to generate. Fluency is one of the three factors (along with flexibility and originality) that aid creativity.

  • Which of the following BEST describes a manager using the creative decision-making process?

The creative decision-making process involves examining the options, and then consciously setting the problem aside so that the unconscious mind can reach a conclusion.

  • You are a manager at a marketing firm and the ideas that have come out of your department have not been innovative. Which of the following should you do to enhance your department’s creativity?

Brainstorming and wildstorming are tried-and-true techniques for enhancing creativity.

  • You have been offered two jobs and you are attempting to decide between the two. Since both are acceptable options that meet your minimum criteria, you decide to rate the key factors that you are considering, such as salary, location, advancement opportunities, organizational culture, family-friendliness, and so forth. Then you examine each job offer to determine which one meets your key criteria better. Which model of decision making are you using?

You are using the rational decision-making model, which uses eight steps to arrive at the optimal decision but depends on the size of the list of alternatives for its effectiveness. In this example, you only have two alternatives, so you are not likely to get bogged down in analysis paralysis.

  • Julie is an ER nurse who regularly works the night shift. Julie has a stellar record, has been working in the ER for over ten years, and became head nurse last year. Tonight, a man came in with gunshot wounds. She immediately bumped him to the head of the line and called the surgeon in to operate. The surgeon operated for hours, and the man pulled through and eventually made a full recovery. What decision-making model did Julie use to triage the gunshot victim?

The intuitive decision-making model involves an expert making a decision without conscious reasoning by examining one option at a time based on experience, training, and scans of the environment. The nurse’s quick (and ultimately successful) decision to treat the patient immediately is a good illustration of professional use of this model.

6.7 Self-Assessment 14: Creativity

  • What did you learn about yourself from this self-assessment?

I scored a 53 on the creativity self-assessment this means that my creativity level is a "work in progress." I learned that while I have had some successes, it is now time to let loose and stretch myself more. This assessment has taught me that I am not as creative as I could be.

6.8 Faulty Decision Making

  • The cartoon shows a man explaining his rationale for buying another lottery ticket. What faulty decision-making trap is he falling into?

The man is experiencing an escalation of commitment as he purchases yet another lottery ticket.

  • Which of the following describes overconfidence bias?

Overconfidence bias occurs when individuals are unduly confident about their ability to predict future events.

  • Jim’s car is breaking down every single week. He has reached the tipping point where the cost of repairing the car is not worth the convenience of owning it. As he is talking to his wife, he says “I should have never bought that car. It’s obviously a piece of junk.” Jim is experiencing what decision-making trap?

Hindsight bias occurs when mistakes seem obvious when looking back upon them.

  • If you are making a decision and you realize that you have been relying on only one piece of information from one source and then decide to consult other sources as well, what mistake did you just avoid?

Anchoring refers to the mistake of relying too heavily on a single piece of information.

  • You happen to see an advertisement for toothpaste while studying for your next exam. The ad claims that “four out of five dentists recommend our brand.” What decision-making trap is laid with this ad?

Framing bias occurs when the decision maker is influenced by the situation, presentation, or wording of a problem. The ad neglects to mention that one out of five dentists does not recommend the brand, thus framing the situation in a way that will reflect positively on the product.

6.9 Decision Making in Groups

  • Which of the following is an advantage of making decisions as an individual rather than as a group?

The decision-making process tends to be more efficient for an individual. Groups typically take longer to make decisions as there is discussion, debate, and potential conflict over the issue.

  • Groupthink is characterized by which of the following symptoms (among others)?

In addition to collective rationalization, which occurs when members of the group downplay negative information or warnings that might cause them to reconsider their assumptions, groupthink is characterized by the illusion of invulnerability, an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, stereotyped views of outgroups, direct pressure, self-censorship, illusions of unanimity, and the emergence of self-appointed mindguards.

  • You are a group leader. Which of the following is a good way to help your group avoid falling into groupthink?

Breaking the group up from time to time will allow the group to critically examine thought processes and group dynamics.

6.10 Tools and Techniques for Making Better Decisions

  • Which decision-making technique was designed to make sure that all members fully participate?

Nominal group technique (NGT) is meant to be used when groups are struggling with problem solving or idea generation. The four steps are silent composition of ideas, idea gathering and sharing, discussion and clarification, and members voting for their favorite ideas.

  • Performing a project premortem would involve which of the following activities?

A project premortem would involve envisioning the future failure of the protect in order to identify any potential problems while there is still time to correct them.

  • Which of the following statements about group decision support systems (GDSS) is true?

Research has shown that GDSS can improve groups’ collaborative output through higher information sharing.

  • Which of the following is a tool for making decisions that begins with a yes or no question, then further branches off into other questions that lead to an alternative?

A decision tree is a diagram that leads individuals to address further questions until they find the end of the tree. These trees help avoid framing bias; they also help the decision maker to ensure consistency at all times.

6.11 Self-Assessment 15: Project Management

  • What did you learn about yourself from this self-assessment?

I scored a 48 on the project management skills self-assessment. This score means that my project management skills are OK, and when projects are relatively simple, my outcomes are often good. I agree with this score and it has taught me that I need to improve my project management skills.

6.12 The Role of Ethics and National Culture

  • Which of the following questions should you ask yourself when you’re faced with an ethical decision-making situation?

Considering how you would feel if your decision were broadcast on the news is one of several ways to assess the ethics of a decision.

  • Which of the following is an accurate statement regarding culturally dependent decision-making styles?

In Japan, decision-making is called “nemawashi” and it calls for consensus-building within the group. The manager will talk to all parties, explain the problem, answer questions, and seek the group members’ support. The decision-making process is thus slower than in other cultures, but once the decision is made, its implementation occurs very quickly due to the full support of everyone in the group.

6.13 Empowered Decision Making: The Case of Ingar Skaug

  • What was the biggest challenge faced by Skaug as he started his new position at Wilhelmsen Lines?

In the wake of plane crash that killed the entire top management team, Skaug diagnosed the problem with the company as a broken decision-making style. He immediately implemented a more empowered decision-making process and held strong for six months while everyone adjusted.

  • Which of the following was the final decision-making style chosen for Wilhelmsen Lines?

When Skaug entered the company, everyone expected him to make all the decisions, but he established an empowered and autonomous decision-making process that has paid off for the company.

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