Louis Pasteur: Decision Quotes
Chance favours only the prepared mind.
Decisions can be regarded as the processes of selecting one or more choices. The choices that we select often have monumental impacts on ourselves and the people around us. It is surprising yet that decision analysis as a subject is given such little attention by most education systems throughout the world. I did not study decision analysis directly until I chose it as an elective subject in my 3rd year of university.
Many great written works on decision study are available, but they have made little headway in penetrating the mainstream education system. I strongly suspect that the level of writing of most Decision methods books are too dry and at an academic level that is too high to be of interest to most people. Also absent from many of these great decision making texts is a reference to intuition. Many of the great works are a scientific study of decision analysis and they delve heavily into the mathematical modelling of the decision making process. With this emphasis, it is therefore understandable that most authors of decision making texts feel there is no place for intuition in decision analysis. However, it is proven that intuition is a function of human nature that can be influenced by real events. It is on this basis that now a number of decision makers are searching for methods to integrate intuition into software decision making models.
Another facet of decisions that is rarely touched on by many of our social and education systems is the importance of cumulative and combined intelligence in the process. No single word exists in the English dictionary to describe the use of cumulative and combined intelligence. To simplify this I call cumulative and combined intelligence “Cumcomin.” Cumulative intelligence in decision analysis is the use of historically collected information in the selection process. Another important dimension to successful decision making is combined intelligence. Combined intelligence in the decision analysis are the participation of 2 or more people in the process. Democratic governance with a free press can be considered a decision analysis process with cumulative and combined intelligence with the electorate providing the combined intelligence and the free press providing the cumulative intelligence.
Interestingly, Democracy has demonstrated to provide the societies that are managed by these systems the highest standards of living and security. These societies also have been able to lead the world in technological advancement and human rights. This is no accident and a testament to the power of effective cumulative and combine intelligence. Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying:” democracy is a bad form of government, but we are yet to find one better.” Similarly, decision making using cumulative and combined intelligence is a difficult process because of the confrontational aspect of it, however, we are yet to find a better approach.
Decision solving and problem solving are almost interchangeable and people generally see Decision making as a subset of problem solving. The key difference between problem solving and decision solving is distinct. Problem solving is a process to achieve a particular goal and decision solving is a process where a choice of options is given to achieve a goal.
If a problem can be solved with only 1 path of action then decision making is not required, however; if the problem can be solved with multiple paths of options then the decision making process needs to be employed. Take for example one is selecting a car to purchase. Most cars will fulfil the criteria of getting from A to B but fulfilling all the other criteria such as ride, safety, reliability etc is were a decision making process needs to be used. It is therefore understandable that decision making is seen as part of problem solving. Pure problem solving is generally a more peaceful exercise, decision making often invokes into a situation: upheaval, discomfort and confrontation. Perhaps this is why it is shunned by many and also perhaps why our education system focuses heavily on problem solving only and not problem solving with decision making.
A good decision can be defined as a decision that efficiently meets the intended outcome. Defining the intended outcome is an area of decision making which is most fluid and is often not closely studied and quantified by the decision maker. As a result many decisions are made as bad decision. It is also common to find these bad decisions being made with an intuitive approach. Many bad decisions are made by people using their feelings and intuition alone. As a decision making researcher I do not want to give the impression that intuition should be ignored, it does after all have some logical influences to it. Time pressures often result in these types of decisions but fast and simplistic decision making methods and tools are available that can be combined to reinforce or challenge intuition.
Nowadays, historical data and historical records are readily available to assist in many decision making problems, the application of this information is called cumulative intelligence. Often historical data is incorrectly managed and due to over complication of their weighting and application in a decision making process they are ignored. The management and effective use of cumulative intelligence in the decision making process is critical. The importance of clarity when applying cumulative intelligence in decision making is even more important.
Decision making involving groups and teams also can present many challenges. Leadership, governance and direction in combined intelligent decision analysis are critical if good decisions are to be made. The application of combined intelligence in decision making is full of noise that needs to be filtered and selectively amplified.
A number of scientific decision making experts dismiss the importance of intuition or “human feeling” in their decision making models. Many people believe they have a spiritual side and often they claim to draw on this when making decisions. An on going study by many Psychological experts has been done to define and measure the performance of so called human intuition. Many of the findings are pointing towards environmental based influences as being the underlying factor that influences intuition.
It can be derived from recent research that intuitive influences on decision analysis are the result of the subconscious analysing the situation using historical experiences and thoughts. With this research, intuition can be understood in a decision making as a natural process that uses our emotional feelings such as fear and pride. It can also be proven that it is the historical events in our life that drive our feelings. It should follow that if intuition is driven by our feelings then it can be said intuition is a cumulative intelligence tool. In essence your feelings are driven through logical and historical evidence. In light of this a decision should never be made at the expense of logic and rationality as the strength of these feelings can be dipropionate depending on the user’s emotional state.
Computers and the internet now offer people more opportunity than ever before to compare information on products and services they are investigating. The future will see more online tools not just to compare product features and services but also provide a means to organise their thoughts and measure their intuition on a particular product or service decision.
By Anthony M Comerford