Wisdom and Decision-Making


 Wisdom and Decision-Making

Writing is one of the main skills that people need for their jobs. It is not always easy to make a decision, especially when there are many factors to consider. This blog post discusses decision-making from the perspective of psychology, helping both individuals and organizations stop making costly mistakes by considering how people act in groups and why they gather at certain places or do certain things. It also describes how different cultural attitudes toward risk influence decision-making as well as lists several examples of organizational structures that help drive better decisions.

Wisdom and Decision-Making

A blog post about designing organizations that will make better decisions naturally, based on individual behavior & expertise.

by Daniel G. Choi, Ph.D.

December 2, 2009 (5 Comments)
Example 1: Is the building you are currently in a safe place? A group of people is sitting around a fire, when suddenly the structure collapses in on them, killing 6 people and injuring numerous others. The possibility of this event was low but not impossible. What should have been done to prevent it? Many people respond that all members of the group should have been searched before entering the building because they might have had weapons or other dangerous items with them at any given time during their stay at the building (which is true). Additional members then suggest that further searches should be performed after each person leaves the building (which is also true). This suggestion would, however, require additional personnel to perform the searches as well as a source of funding for them—not always available for many organizations. If money is available, certain precautions should be taken that include better designing the building and performing more thorough background checks to find out who has access to the building at any given time. The best way to prevent these types of things from happening is a job that is not always easy to complete but can definitely save lives in the future by making sure that its members are trustworthy and well-informed before becoming one with an organization.

Example 2: A political activist expresses concern regarding a possible riot in a city within her country. She reports that recent changes in the country have caused unrest among her people, who are worried that they will lose their jobs and be unable to support themselves in the future. The group responsible for making decisions regarding such issues can choose to ignore this report, believing that it is a small risk at best. As a result of this ignoring, however, the activist might begin to feel like her efforts of expressing concern have fallen on deaf ears. Thus, she might enter into open revolt against the government rather than thinking about why she is feeling uncertain and how she can commit herself to a more positive outcome. Her group of followers could do the same thing if she is not supported within her country by those who are in charge of making decisions.

Example 3: A company has just opened a new facility that is responsible for producing an important product for a major client. The client, however, is growing impatient and requests that the company produce the product in larger quantities than previously agreed upon. The company's top managers are extremely excited about this opportunity and want to accept this proposal in order to increase the profits they receive from their new facility. However, some members of their team suggest that they should not do so because it will take several months for production to be increased (which is true). Other members of the team respond by saying that money can be made over time if they do not lose their current high-paying client (which is true as well). In this case, the best thing for them to do would be to have a contingency plan for increasing production in the new facility, even though it will cause delay and loss of profits for a short period of time. Essentially, the best thing they can do is design a new facility where they would not have to worry about paying for higher quality labor or having to pay their current clients more than they were asking. Since this is not too difficult or time consuming, they should just begin preparing this new facility as soon as possible rather than waiting until everything is lined up perfectly.

Example 4: A group of people are working together in order to complete a task that is very important. For whatever reason, a person within this group does not complete the task as requested and is not punished for doing so. Subsequently, all of the people within the group begin to think that they will not be punished either for not completing tasks. As a result, they do not finish their assigned work on time. Eventually, the people at the highest levels of management are forced to take action because of this lack of work production by others. The company then has to hire someone new to replace those who do not have jobs anymore because they were fired for being unreliable—a process that costs both time and money.

Example 5: A group of people are on a first-name basis. They all know each other very well and can be counted on to trust each other with any job or task that needs to be completed. This is because their organization has previously been able to complete the same type of work successfully, which leaves them confident that they will also be able to complete this job perfectly. When a new leader enters the organization, he finds out that some people are not completely trustworthy. As a result, he places his job in jeopardy until the group begins to cooperate more effectively in order to make sure that everyone has his back if anything goes wrong—a situation that will certainly lead many employees into conflict and possibly even litigation.

Example 6: Many people are required to work together in order to complete important tasks successfully. Some members of the team want to do all they can to ensure that the others have their backs. Other members, however, are only concerned about themselves and their own needs—a mindset that leads many of them into trouble and causes many conflicts within the group. With this in mind, if it becomes clear that group members will not be able to trust each other after a certain period of time as a result of this mindset, those leaders who are in charge should find a controlled way of weeding out those who cannot be trusted within the group—even if it means losing some necessary manpower at one point or another. This is similar to how a divorce occurs. Those who are unwilling to compromise and be truthful within the relationship are unsuitable for marriage because they fail to produce a healthy environment for everyone else involved. Also, those who cannot trust each other are simply not suitable for a business partnership because they will not be able to work together if anything goes wrong or needs to be completed.

Example 7: A company is looking for ways in which it can save money and increase profit over time.


In conclusion, there are many kinds of problems that may arise when groups of people are forced to work together. Sometimes, a person is simply unable to trust another person enough for it to be effective. This type of problem is best solved when the two people involved can sit down and talk about the issues they have with each other. Even if they cannot come to a mutual understanding, such a conversation will help them both understand each other’s mindset and resolve their differences before they begin working together. At least half of the time, such a solution resolves these problems before they start causing damage and hassles in the company or workplace.

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