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Posted on September 20th, 2012, by

In the contemporary world, decision making influences practically all spheres of human life. As the matter of fact, the decision making process occurs on all levels from the routine work of a small company or even an ordinary life of an individual to the top level on which decisions that can define the future development of the world are taken. At the same time, often principles of decision making remain unchangeable regardless of the level on which a decision is taken. Hence, the understanding of the importance of decision making and research of effective strategies of decision making can contribute consistently to the effective performance of organizations, states and improvement of the life of ordinary people. In this respect, it is important to underline the fact that poor decision making can lead to disastrous effects. For instance, the current problems the US army faces in Iraq is, to a significant extent, the result of ineffective decision making by American leaders and policy makers. Instead, the US authorities, as well as other decision makers, should primarily understand the essence of the process of decision making and learn effective strategies of decision making before taking any decision. At this point, it is possible to use studies conducted by such specialists as Bazerman and Gladwell, whose works on decision making reveal the major trends, which are typical for the decision making process, and identify effective strategies of decision making.

On analyzing the problem of effective decision making, it is necessary to underline the fact that traditionally many specialists believe that an effective decision making is possible only on the condition of an effective training process. In other words, an individual needs to train to be able to take decisions effectively and the more extensive experience he has in the field of decision making the more effective decisions the individual can take. However, Bazerman (2005) argues that, along with training process, which affects the effectiveness of decision making consistently, there are also innate abilities and inclinations of an individual to take decisions. Moreover, he argues that decisions can be taken effectively when an individual can combine his training and experience with his innate abilities.

At this point, his views are similar to those of Gladwell (2005), who argues that decisions should be taken in a possibly shorter period of time, but still they should be effective enough and errors free. Otherwise, the effectiveness of decisions will decrease dramatically. In fact, Gladwell develops a concept of “thin slice”¯, which implies that people are able to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In actuality, this means that people need to take decisions fast, in spite of the lack of experience. Obviously, it is quite difficult to take a good or effective decision if a person is inexperienced in this field. Therefore, the concern of Bazerman with training should complement the “thin slice”¯ concept developed by Gladwell.

The latter underlines the fact that people are overwhelmed with information in the modern world (Gladwell, 2005). Consequently, people need to take decisions having little information and heavily relying on their intuition, because their experience is often insufficient to make effective decisions resulting from a detailed analysis of the current situation and all possible effects of different alternatives of a decision which is to be taken (Gladwell, 2005). Ā In such a way, Gladwell (2005) tends to taking decisions on the basis of snap judgments rather than on the basis of a detailed analysis of the information available to decision makers.

However, such recommendations developed by Gladwell can lead to decision which a taken in a rush and which outcomes cannot be foreseen, especially in a long-term perspective. In such a situation, the evaluation of the information available to decision makers is essential, but it is important to find a golden mean between too rationalized decisions, which are taken on a basis of analysis, and emotional decisions, which are taken on the basis of intuition. Anyway, decisions taken without analysis or regardless of intuition or innate abilities of an individual can hardly be successful.

In this respect, it is possible to refer to the example of decisions which have been taken by the US authority in regard to the decision to start the war in Iraq. In actuality, there was a lack of information concerning the presence of weapon of mass destruction in Iraq. Nevertheless, the US authorities have taken a decision to launch the military operation against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and overthrow him to prevent a potential external threat. At first glance, it is possible to estimate that it was a kind of thin slicing since the US authority took a fast decision which was not backed up by sufficient information.

However, there was an important that the US authorities missed. In fact, the decision to start the war in Iraq was taken rather on the basis of emotions, such as a fear of the use of the weapon of mass destruction by Iraq against the US or its allies, than on the basis of the analysis of the actual potential of Iraq and its ability to posses and use the weapon of mass destruction. Moreover, the decision was taken regardless of a strong opposition from the part of political opponents of the Bush administration and many public organizations. As a result, the decision was ineffective and it does not actually meet strategies of decision making suggested by Gladwell and Bazerman. Though, it is possible to admit that there were reasons to start the war in Iraq and theses reasons justified this war, but the question of the impact of this decision on the US and life of many Americans arises. Obviously, this decision led to the huge expenses of the US Federal budget and cost thousands of lives of American soldiers. In such a context, it is hardly possible to justify this decision or define it as an effective decision.

Thus, the example of decisions taken by the US authorities in relation to the war in Iraq reveals the ineffectiveness of the decision making process on the top level of the US executive power and military. The decision was taken without sufficient analysis of the current situation and outcomes of the war. Moreover, the further decisions taken by the US authorities and military in Iraq during the war have proved to be ineffective too that reveals a systematic problem in the field of decision making in the US. Therefore, works of Gladwell and Bazerman could be very useful to the US policy makers.

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