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High-Impact Leadership: Train Managers in the Art of Decision Making

Use a systematic process to make optimal decisions.

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  • Brenda Kerton, Process Analyst, Management of Change Facilitator, Leadership Developer and Owner, Capability Insights Consulting
  • Gareth Doherty, Strategic Planning Analyst with the Federal Government of Canada

Your Challenge

  • Despite a glut of research on all facets of decision making, decisions often fail. In fact, one source claims a decision failure rate of 50% – effectively no better than chance. (Source: “Principles of Management, v.1.0,” Carpenter et al.)

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Most day-to-day decisions, often including operational decisions (e.g. What should we say to customers about our new product?) and tactical decisions (e.g. How should we market the new product line?) are not important enough to undertake a thorough rational analysis.
  • However, in the case of strategic decisions (e.g. Should we merge with another company?), as well as important operational and tactical decisions, a thorough rational analysis is called for. When coupled with an understanding of our inclinations toward irrationality – and tactics for avoiding those judgment traps and biases – it gives us the best opportunity to arrive at an optimal decision.

Impact and Result

  • In order to become effective decision makers, leaders must be reminded of how to take a structured approach to decision making to drive stakeholder buy-in, reduce bias, manage groupthink and analysis paralysis, and drive overall decision consistency.
  • Thorough training on decision making will enable managers to realize greater decision making success – and this easily translates into significant business outcomes.

Research & Tools

1. Make the case for manager training

Demonstrate the correlation between decision-making training and better manager decisions. 

3. Follow up after training

Evaluate training, continue development of managers, and present findings to stakeholders.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a three call advisory process.

Call #1 - Make the case for decision-making training

Discuss how to gain stakeholder buy-in for leadership training, the costs and benefits of internal vs. external training, and metrics to judge training success. Review the High-Impact Leadership Training Program ROI Analysis Tool.

Call #2 - Prepare for decision-making training

Get ready for training: Discuss logistics and content customization. Review the 360 tool and the decision-making training deck.

Call #3 - Evaluate training effectiveness

Review training session results, as well as any suggested training modifications.

Onsite Workshop

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Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Understand the Importance of Decision Making

The Purpose

  • Understand the importance of decision making and the value of optimization.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Understand McLean & Company’s Decision Making Model.
  • Learn why strategic decision making will benefit your organization.




360 degree review of strategic decision making

  • Decision making gaps based on 360 results
  • Understanding of the key process in strategic decision making

Module 2: Identify the Problem and Define Objectives

The Purpose

  • Problem identification to separate symptoms from underlying problems.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Process to work through problem identification.




Identify the problem

  • Symptom vs. problem identification and building objectives

Module 3: Establish Decision Criteria

The Purpose

  • Common methods and techniques for establishing decision criteria.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Alternative evaluation methods.




Alternative evaluation

  • Understanding and practicing evaluation methods

Module 4: Generate and Evaluate Alternatives

The Purpose

  • Understand the benefits of group decisions.
  • Use creative brainstorming.
  • Evaluate alternatives using decision criteria.
  • Understand bias and groupthink.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Evaluate alternatives using decision criteria. 




Understand the power of group decisions, creative brainstorming, and decision criteria.

  • Ability to generate various alternatives and evaluate them

Types of judgment errors and biases

  • Understanding of eight common types

Module 5: Select an Alternative and Implement

The Purpose

  • Make the final decision and document the decision criteria.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Documentation of the final decision. 




Decision-Making Case Study

  • Thorough understanding of the decision-making process through case study work

Module 6: Evaluate the Decision

The Purpose

  • Evaluate decision once it is implemented for lessons learned.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Post-mortem on decisions will determine the value of the decision, as well as lessons learned. 




Individual Development Plan

  • Action plan for ongoing decision-making development

Search Code: 74689
Published: April 21, 2014
Last Revised: September 2, 2014