Critical Thinking Styles and Forces of Influence
Making decisions is a major portion of the manager's responsibilities. It is an aspect that cannot be taken lightly nor can it be done in a hasty manner. Hasty, careless decisions can have devastating results on the manager's department or even for the entire company. Decisions that are made with deliberation using different kinds of processes, however, can lead the department or company to better and/or more profitable operations. When decisions are indeed made in this manner, the manager should feel confident that he or she has made an appropriate decision and is the best option given the information available at the time. This does not mean to say that the manager will always make the correct decision; lack of information or situational changes can lead to faulty analysis. However, if the manager uses critical thinking and proven successful decision-making strategies, he or she can and should be confident in whatever action they have decided is appropriate. Their own confidence level will, in fact, affect the outcome of their action.
Forces of Influence
“Managers can be called “information workers”; a manager is a craftsperson whose raw material is information (McCall & Kaplan 16).” Managers spend the majority of their time absorbing information and trying to process all the information in order to reach a decision of some sort or another. With in the realm of the information system a manager has many sources of where he or she may get this information, including, (a) systems and structures set up to keep them apprised on ongoing events, (b) the people around them who volunteer information and can be approached in search of trouble signs, clues, and missing pieces of puzzles, (c) the values of the organization, which point people in certain directions and define the critical variables in a complex array of possibilities, and (d) the manager’s own direct experience” (16). Management information systems aid a manager in developments for his or her area, which can be a
strength or a weakness depending on the complexity of the system.
One major problem with this whole process is the manager’s mind to go into what is called by many as an information overload. This can lead a manager to make faulty decisions based on information that is relevant to his or her judgement but fail at investigating the information for the opposing idea or situation.
Managers rely heavily on the associates that surround him or her to gather and provide him or her with the information needed to complete a particular scenario. Although the associates may or may not have the proper information it is still a primary source and influence that a manger must use. Another way managers obtain information is by the guiding values and beliefs within their organization. This contributes to a manager’s separation of relevant information from irrelevant information from the perspective of the organization expectations. In addition to values and beliefs, the direct hands-on experience of a manger is a good source for obtaining necessary information. When a manager is encountered with a problem he or she has experienced before, they have firsthand information to work through the problem, as they deem necessary, because they already have the personal understanding and knowledge needed in working with the information.
Forms of Thinking
A big factor in what managers use to process the information he or she encounters relies heavily upon their cognitive process. Which according to McCall and Kaplan is the first step in making sense out of the information that is in front of them at the time. Managers process information through nine different processes including: making sense of the pieces; processing only so much; simplifying the information; utilizing an emotional component; defining a reality; digging for information; knowing what one is doing; knowing one’s self; and having an open mind.
Another approach used to process information is the logical scientific approach. Which according to McAulay, Russell and Sims note that within the "logico-scientific mode" of decision making, it is important to discover the whole truth about the situation in order to make a logical and definitive decision. This type of decision cannot be based on one's opinion or even the opinion of the team; it must be based on hard evidence (32). To base decisions on personal perspectives or opinions without taking the time to analyze the situation can result in losses for the company.
One other factor that is definitely an influence and a thinking pattern, which can effect a decision-making process, is the manager’s personality.
Different personality types have been related to decision-making strategies used. Waldersee and Sheather addressed this issue in a study they did. They found that characteristics such as problem solving style, locus of control, the need for achievement, risk aversion and the degree of tolerance the manager has for ambiguity are all directly related to the strategy used to make decisions. Personality characteristics then drive the implementation of whatever decision has been made. For example, some studies have concluded that an internal locus of control is directly linked to innovations within the company as well as to a greater effectiveness in managing. Other studies have linked a willingness to accept risk and a high degree of tolerance for ambiguity to being effective in building the company but not in maintaining it at any given level. These researchers caution the reader that personality characteristics are not the only determining factors in decision making strategies; there are also the factors of experience and the inter-relationship of personality within the specific context of the situation. Further, both the mission of the organization as a whole and the functioning of the team of which the manager is a member play a significant part in how managers will make decisions (1000).
In conclusion there are a multitude of factors affecting the quality of decisions made by any given manager that include but are not limited to: personality characteristics, experience, the context of the situation at hand, strategies used and critical thinking and analysis. One topic not discussed at great length in this paper is the degree of confidence a manager has in the decisions he or she makes. It is only a logical conclusion that the manager will implement decisions with an enthusiasm and dedication that is equivalent to their belief they have selected the correct action for the situation. If the manager follows some of the simple steps outlined and avoids the pitfalls, he or she can and should have complete confidence in the decision made.
McAulay, Laurie, Russell, Graeme and Sims, Julian. "How Do Financial Directors Make Decisions?" Management Accounting (British), (1997): Vol. 75.
McCall, Morgan, Jr. and Robert E. Kaplan. Whatever it Takes. The Realities of Decision Making. Prentice Hall 1990.
Waldersee, Robert and Sheather, Simon. "The Effects Of Strategy Type On Strategy Implementation Actions." Human Relations, (1996): Vol. 49, No. 1,
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