01-A. What Is a Decision?
A decision is a choice made from among alternative courses of action that are available. The purpose of making a decision is to establish and achieve organizational goals and objectives. The reason for making a decision is that a problem exists, goals or objectives are wrong, or something is standing in the way of accomplishing them.
Thus the decision-making process is fundamental to management. Almost everything a manager does involves decisions, indeed, some suggest that the management process is decision making. Although managers cannot predict the future, many of their decisions require that they consider possible future events. Often managers must make a best guess at what the future will be and try to leave as little as possible to chance, hut since uncertainty is always there, risk accompanies decisions. Sometimes the consequences of a poor decision are slight; at other times they are serious.
Choice is the opportunity to select among alternatives. If there is no choice, there is no decision to be made. Decision making is the process of choosing, and many decisions have a broad range of choice. For example, a student may be able to choose among a number of different courses in order to implement the decision to obtain a college degree. For managers, every decision has constraints based on policies, procedures, laws, precedents, and the like. These constraints exist at all levels of the organization.
Alternatives are the possible courses of action from which choices can be made. If there are no alternatives, there is no choice and, therefore, no decision. If no alternatives are seen, often it means that a thorough job of examining the problems has not been done. For example, managers sometimes treat problems in an either/or fashion; this is their way of simplifying complex problems. But the tendency to simplify blinds them to other alternatives.
At the managerial level, decision making includes limiting alternatives as well as identifying them, and the range is from highly limited to practically unlimited.
Decision makers must have some way of determining which of several alternatives is best -- that is, which contributes the most to the achievement of organizational goals. An organizational goal is an end or a state of affairs the organization seeks to reach. Because