Making Decisions: appealing or appalling?

Decision making is fundamental to management (and life generally) and there are a great many models out there of varying complexity. Even choosing one of them is a big decision in itself. They generally focus quite correctly on the process, rather than the outcome, of decisions. So a "good" decision is one in which the various players have taken a number of factors into account, rather than a success that may or may not have been down to their efforts.

A major element in decision making processes is information, especially if we don't have prior experience (and thus a degree of intuition) to apply. There are no facts (the Latin word describes something already done) about the future, when the consequences of decisions are seen, but it's clearly reasonable to forecast, extrapolate etc., based on what's gone before.

When we're being encouraged to take one direction or another - as consumers or voters, or in responding to issues such as health - a lot of effort goes into choosing the information to present. After all, there's a finite amount of time and effort that can go into evaluating it. Therefore, it's not surprising that facts offered (including so-called "killer" facts, which seek to appeal or appal to the exclusion of all others) are aimed at achieving maximum impact, whether positive or negative. In practice, the latter are frequently chosen, because it's well known that potential losses tend to be weighed heavier than gains. That may at first sight seem unfortunate, but when the possible costs of undoing bad outcomes are taken into account, it's maybe not such an unwelcome part of the process.


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