Week Four

Management decision-making: style, process and tools

Thursday 3/06- 17h45 to 19h45

“Nothing is more difficult and, therefore, more precious, than to be able to decide.”- I hope that some of you may recognise this quote.

To get us started, have a look at the 3 links below which look at some of the worst business decisions ever made:


So far on this course we have considered

- Management- principles, styles and skills,
- Organisational structure and culture
- Business strategy

Now we turn our attention to decision-making. I find it useful to think of the three levels of decision-making (strategic, operational and tactical). This links with the business strategy we have looked at. There are also links between decision making styles and management style and organisational culture.

This week:

- there is no Discussion Forum.
- please email me your answers to Part 2 Case Studies and Part 3 Analytics and Decision Making.

Part 1 Reflection (20-30 minutes)

Please workthrough these questions, but this week, do not email me. You will probably find it useful to write down your answers, but I do not need to see them.

A) General Quiz

1. Are you “good” at making decisions?
2. Do you like making decisions?
3. Are you rational or intuitive in your decision-making?
4. How quickly do you make decisions?
5. Generally, how do you make decisions?
• Do you weigh up through the pros and cons?
• Do you think through the costs and benefits?
• To what extent do you consider the implications of your decisions for others?
6. Do you talk things over with family or friends, or do you make up your mind yourself?
7. Now, imagine you are going to buy a new car. How do you decide what to buy? What factors do you consider? What decision-making tools do you use? What process do you follow?

B) Decision-making styles

Below are listed 4 types of decision-making style- which are you?
1. Directive Style: used by people who prefer simple, clear-cut solutions. They are efficient and rational.
2. Analytical Style: used by managers who like to consider complex solutions based on as much data as they can gather. They are objective and rational and like optimal solutions.
3. Conceptual Style: used by people who like to consider a broad amount of information, and are more creative and socially oriented. They consult with others for information and ideas.
4. Behavioral Style: often the style adopted by managers having a deep concern for others. They consult with others to determine the feelings of the others

Now please do the quiz at the link below:

Is this the answer you expected? Look at the article at http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/5281.html , which talks about how decision making styles change through a manager’s career. It is quite interesting.
• Maximizing is the tendency to optimise when making decisions. It is characterised by increased in
formation-seeking and social comparison.
• Satisficing is the tendency to use shortcuts when making decisions and to settle for a "good-enough" option that passes a "threshold of acceptability."

Part 2 Case Studies (1 hour +/-)

Please look at the two case studies below and do as much as you can in the 1 hour I have set aside. Please email me your answers at rf.gesei|sbbig.b#rf.gesei|sbbig.b. If you finish early, please look at the links in the Further Resources section.


You may find the explanations below useful:


Part 3 Analytics and Decision Making (30 mins +/-)

In Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris argue that the frontier for using data to make decisions has shifted dramatically. You have more information at hand about your business environment than ever before. But are you using it to “out-think” your rivals? If not, you may be missing out on a potent competitive tool.
Certain high-performing enterprises are now building their competitive strategies around data-driven insights that in turn generate impressive business results. Their secret weapon? Analytics: sophisticated quantitative and statistical analysis and predictive modelling. Exemplars of analytics are using new tools to identify their most profitable customers and offer them the right price, to accelerate product innovation, to optimize supply chains, and to identify the true drivers of financial performance. A wealth of examples—from organizations as diverse as Amazon, Barclay’s, Capital One, Harrah’s, Procter & Gamble, Wachovia, and the Boston Red Sox—illuminate how to leverage the power of analytics.

Please listen to the podcast and read the interviews below, and email me a short essay 100-400 words on:

• What you found interesting
• What you did not understand/ might need to study further
• Agree with/ disagree with

- Podcast


- Interviews

Further Resources

The Government of New South Wales, Australia, has an excellent website with video and audio. Visit it at :

Check out this chat between some technology business experts. They discuss a number of business acquisition decisions that you may have heard discussed in the media.

The Open University is a distance learning university founded and funded by the UK Government. The majority of undergraduate students are based in the United Kingdom, but its courses (both undergraduate and postgraduate) can be studied anywhere in the world

Reference for Business has clear account of the decision-making process.

Mind Tools, which was established in 1995, is a good source of decision-making tools . According to its website “Mind Tools' mission is "to help people around the world learn the practical skills needed to excel in their careers. We teach and publish the practical, proven skills and techniques that, used together, show themselves in high personal effectiveness, good leadership, career success - and even happiness. We call these skills and techniques "mind tools" – because that's what they are. We believe that anyone can learn these tools and apply them successfully, helping them make the very most of their careers.”

Businessballs is also a good source of decision-making tools is a free ethical learning and development resource for people and organizations, run by Alan Chapman, in Leicester, England. Businessballs.com launched at the end of 1999. The concept began a few years earlier as an experimental online collection of learning and development ideas. The website is now used by about a million people each month. Alan originally created the Businessballs name for juggling balls which he used in his training and development business.

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