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Rationality of Management Decisions

It is an inescapable part of our existence that we have to make important decisions in our private and professional lives without sufficient amount of information. In fact, in most cases, there is no amount of information that can make an output of a decision to be certain. We can only improve our odds (i.e., increase a probability of a decision to produce the desired outcome) by making a “good” decision. The process includes gathering relevant information, analyzing it and making good judgment in an effort to reduce economic uncertainty.

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” — Will Rogers

Presumably management decisions are made by experienced people, and the more important these decisions are, the more experienced are the people who suppose to make it. However, people who make it to the higher ranks in management hierarchy are often those who avoided making mistakes before or at least managed not to be caught making them. In other words, most career-minded people often display a risk-averting behavior. If this is true, then the management decision-making process is irrational according to Dan Ariely, the author of best-selling books Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality. In his blog post, Dan wrote:

”Companies pay amazing amounts of money to get answers from consultants with overdeveloped confidence in their own intuition. Managers rely on focus groups—a dozen people riffing on something they know little about—to set strategies. And yet, companies won’t experiment to find evidence of the right way forward.”

One needs to make uncommon decisions to achieve uncommon results, even though the consequences of being wrong can be devastating. Just ask Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappo.com, who decided to allocate most of his marketing budget to fund customer support call center and to turn upside down the most common Customer Service Reps’ performance measurements. Their call center has become their marketing growth engine that generates customer retention, Word of Mouth and revenue per customer returns that outpace common marketing investment performance by a wide margin.

We often rely on the “knowledge” of the past, while the rate of change around us seems to escalate relentlessly, and traditional approaches to gathering, analyzing and judging the relevance of information we consume to make decisions today seem to be less than adequate. Big help could be found in uncommon sources of empirical information and market intelligence, particularly if it challenges your institutional orthodoxy. Change requires courage and conviction according to Jim Farley, Group VP, Global Marketing, Sales and Service at Ford Motor Company. Here is what he said in a recent interview with Brian Solis:

 

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