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Critical Decision Making for Business Resilience

March 03, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 172

The phrase 'paralysis by analysis' is popular in business. Much time and effort is put into careful decision making to ensure that businesses 'get it right', sometimes to the detriment of the business or situation in question. So how then, can people who have to make life and death decisions do it seemingly, in the blink of an eye? Doctors assess patients, police officers may need to use their weapon to deadly effect, fire-fighters may be committed to a potentially fatal course of action. How is it possible and can business learn a thing or two?

Knowing the Dynamics of Time-Sensitive Reaction

Common sense in the business world dictates that research and discussion are fundamental to making long-term rational decisions. Naturally, new directions require the investment of intellect to determine actions that will result in optimal returns.

However, it's not always possible to have the convenience of debate and investigation on your side. In light of these situations, it may be advantageous to have an understanding of emergency decision making skills and why they're essential to security and value.

In this digital age, information moves quicker than ever. The traditional structure for company resolutions is no longer effective for everything. Not every decision has an opportunity for reflection. Sometimes accidents or sudden changes happen.

In one moment, a problem can occur that can escalate into unacceptable risk. When that happens, word moves quickly and you can't waste a moment to respond.

A Call to Action

Take for example, the food industry. The risk of contamination is a constant and serious threat. If hygiene standards are compromised, the issue can escalate into sweeping panic that can quickly damage a company's value on the market and seriously affect the public's perception of the company's products.

The only thing that can responsibly handle this is a quick and critical response that is accurate and timely. In particular, emergency decisions are necessary to ensure that the proper course of action is achieved.

Key Element for Critical Choices

A framework emerged as a means of studying how people actually make decisions and how they perform cognitively complex functions in demanding situations. This framework has become known as naturalistic decision making (NDM) and is based upon situations marked by time pressure, uncertainty, vague goals, high stakes, team and organisational constraints, changing conditions, and varying amounts of experience. This has by some, also been referred to as using heuristic models, essentially matching known solutions to known problems. These methods rely on the combination of two ways of developing a decision; the first is recognising which course of action is feasible, or evaluating the course of action through imagination to assess if the actions resulting from that decision make sense. However, the difference of being experienced or inexperienced plays a major factor in the decision-making processes and situational awareness.

Situational awareness is achieved through the application of assessment. Specifically, building a strong state of knowledge through constant real-time information networks is paramount to securing this vital component of the emergency decision making process.

Differences with Responsibility

That feature is one of the main items that distinguish emergency decisions from traditional company methods. In the boardroom, companies depend on collected data from long-term trends to realize new directions to take for the business.

Executives also tend to depend on information streams that are limited in scope to the pursuit of business management. Often times, having too much information is seen as a wasteful pursuit that cuts into the bottom line. This truly couldn't be further from the truth.

To safeguard against disaster, companies must understand and approach information with an open perspective. Short-notice, on-demand information aggregation is pivotal for having responses ready for crucial moments.

Truly, it's best said that quick information from multiple sources is fundamental to situation awareness, and the same can be said for companies that want to benefit from emergency decision making. Businesses that desire to take advantage of this process should realize what they can do to have real-time information dynamics like the military, health industry, or police forces.

Proven Research

There are benefits for a company looking to adapt emergency response processes. Besides the ones mentioned, it's also notable that emergency response systems have been extremely researched and refined by the most demanding institutions of society.

In particular, the US military has spearheaded the development of emergency decision making skills. Through heavy funding in information infrastructure and personnel training, they achieved refinement of a process that is absolutely proven across all platforms of deployment, from air traffic control to paramedics, and fire-fighters.

The Bottom Line

Businesses are in a prime position to invest in emergency decision making processes. With vast quantities of territory explored, there is a wealth of information, systems, and professionals dedicated to this field ready to be integrated at little cost.

In the end, both traditional decision-making skills and emergency-based ones are highly valuable. With the rapidly emerging information age, it's becoming more important than ever for these talents to exist within the staff skill-set ready for action when the time comes to make company decisions.

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Russell Boon is an emergency management specialist with 25 years of national and international experience consulting to government, corporate and industrial sectors.

Read more from Russell at

Source: EzineArticles
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Russell Boon

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