Following the recent loss in the UK of an eyewatering amount of very important criminal record data, whatever the reason for this failure of attention to detail and poor decision-making, new decisions are currently being rapidly taken in an attempt to recover the situation.
Our ability to make good decisions is vitally important at all levels, no matter what we are doing. Hopefully, many of our more major impact decisions are not made in isolation and are carried out with ‘joint ownership’.
Decision-making involves key soft skills
At its core, decision-making involves key judgemental and process soft skills, developed around individual and team abilities. These abilities involve intelligence; analytical and conceptual thinking; intuition; mental agility (at a judgemental level) and decision objectives; factors; options; evaluation; agreement and implementation (at a process level).
Bearing in mind this significant raft of soft skills and abilities, think for a moment about the following incidents. Remember they involve decision-making at all levels within the organisations involved:
- A US federal judge ordered one of the world’s most famous brands to pay a $2.8 billion criminal fine for “rigging diesel-powered vehicles to cheat on government emissions tests*
- One of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer’s “culture of concealment” resulted in tragedy from an “culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions… lack of transparency and insufficient oversight…**
What really went wrong in each case stems from a complex mix of individuals who all thought they were acting in the best interests of everyone else. In reality the opposite was the case.
Perhaps, circumstantially or not, the three cases I have referred to revolve around the use of computer software, which further emphasises the importance of human decision-making in this age of technological dominance.
How often do you ask yourself “What if?”
Maslow had the right idea when he identified his Hierarchy of Competence:
- unconscious incompetence (wrong intuition)
- conscious competence (right analysis)
- conscious incompetence (wrong analysis)
- unconscious competence (right intuition)
Unconscious competence is deemed to be the stage where the skill is a habit. You know what to do without thinking heavily.
However, in my view this is where “WHAT IF?” becomes a very important intervention, always, especially in a state of what most of us would call being on ‘autopilot’.
What happens if you are on autopilot? You believe you have the required level of skill to make a decision, but in reality, you don’t?
Decision judgement and decision management are two very important soft skills amongst a raft of other soft skills – imagine attempting to carry out any technical skill without the support of soft skills – highly risky, so never ever underestimate the vital role that they play in driving competent performance.
To emphasise my point, research we carried out in 1997 identified that soft skills are ‘end-to-end’; many of the underpinning characteristics and traits are common to the various soft skills and are interconnected. Indeed, our Model of Abilities has some 240 characteristics.
Take decision-making as an example, it has two parts: Decision Judgement and Decision Management. Each belong to a ‘cluster’ of five primary, inter-related skills.
The Judgement cluster involves creativity and originality (including problem-solving); thinking abilities; decision management; and information management.
The Decision-making cluster involves priority management; time management; information management; and decision judgement.
It is obvious when laid out like this, how these skills interconnect and are interrelated.
When an individual is deemed to carry out their job role as fully competent in these areas then they can be classed as performing at a high level. In reality, does this really happen? Yes, by some individuals, of course. However, there are many individuals who need to improve their knowledge and application of these soft skills. I know, this because all our learners undertake a baseline assessment to determine the extent of their knowledge and understanding, prior to taking the courses.
Thinking about a senior person in your organisation, what level of percentage attainment would you expect to see from a baseline assessment? Bear in mind these are individuals who are making important decisions in your organisation, day in and day out; 60% – 70% – 80% -90%?
Would you be surprised to know that the average baseline score in both decision judgement and decision management, respectively, is only 25%? Would that concern you? It would concern me.
However, the good news is that after undertaking our courses, gaining the required knowledge and then practicing the implementation guides, we see an improvement in knowledge to an average score of 93%.
Encouraged? I invite you to put yourself to the test. Our baseline assessment tests are free and available on www.skillogy.com. The results will be automatically emailed to you and we guarantee absolute confidentiality.
Can you and your organisation run the risk of a bad decision and the consequences?… I mean, what if?…
Mike Bolam, Leader and Developer, Skillogy International | January 2021