5 Decision Making Exercises For Managers
When deciding, it helps to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Changing your scenery or doing something different can help give you a fresh perspective.
In this exercise, students experience and evaluate three quite different approaches to group decision-making: the Consensus Method, the Dialectical Inquiry (DI) Method, and the Devil’s Advocacy (DA) Method.
1. Delegation levels
The Delegation Poker workshop uses digital cards to help participants understand the different levels of delegation. Level 1 (Do Exactly What I Say) is the lowest level of delegating authority and requires that the manager remain in control of decisions.
Level 2 takes the level of freedom up a bit, asking the employee to research an issue and report back on the results. This enables the manager to make a go/no-go decision with more confidence.
Level 3 involves researching and recommending a course of action, with the manager still having final say. This allows more autonomy to employees but can be more challenging for managers to manage and entails more frequent feedback from the leader. This level also increases the need for employees to take responsibility and ownership of their actions and outcomes.
2. Pros and cons list
Often times, when faced with a decision-making challenge, you will need to weigh options. It is important to collect as much information as possible, including negative aspects of each solution, so that you can make an informed choice.
Several tools are available to support this process. One popular tool is the NUF Test, which encourages teams to evaluate solutions against three limiting factors: Is it New? Is it Useful? Is it Feasible? This approach to analyzing options helps teams to quickly narrow down possibilities.
Another way to rate alternatives is with Feedback Frames, an exercise based on Gamestorming innovation tools that allows participants to express their preferences by dropping tokens into a range of slots. This visual representation of opinions is especially helpful for clarifying a consensus.
As matrix methods gain in popularity, managers may start to confuse their benefits with pitfalls that are specific to the matrix form. A common misconception is that a matrix requires that all business decisions be hammered out in group meetings. This is a serious pathology that needs to be prevented and treated.
A second danger is power struggles that erupt between two managers. The key is for equal strength on both sides to stop these conflicts from reaching destructive levels. One way to avoid this is for top level superiors of the duelling managers to intervene. This can prevent the conflict from getting out of hand and help both parties see that the matrix design enables them to cooperate with one another. It also helps if the superiors carry out sensitivity analysis, varying the grades and weightings used in the decision matrix.
4. Check for agreement
Checking for agreement is an important part of any decision making exercise, because it helps to ensure that everyone agrees with the outcome. It also allows for quick and efficient decision making by helping to resolve issues that might otherwise stall the process.
One easy way to check for agreement is to use a “Fist to Five” decision making technique, which involves asking participants to show how interested they are in a proposal using a show of hands. This method is simple to communicate, quick to do and can work in large groups.
Another fun decision-making exercise is the egg drop. This is an icebreaker that gives teams the chance to practice making quick decisions while competing against other teams.
5. Egg drop
The classic egg drop exercise challenges teams to build something that keeps a raw egg from breaking when dropped from a significant height. This requires creativity to reduce the amount of energy transferred from potential to kinetic energy on the egg shell by creating air resistance, cushioning the fall, or transferring the energy into another object.
This team building exercise helps develop a sense of urgency and collaboration as students work under time pressure to make decisions. It also teaches teams to make choices under stress and how to handle setbacks in the process.
Using the NUF test, a decision making technique inspired by processes used in patent applications, helps teams quickly identify and rank ideas for convergent decision making. This allows teams to keep their options realistic and encourages individuals to think about the practical next steps for implementation once a decision has been made.