Volume 4, Issue 2, 2004
Professionalism, Passion and Doubt
Tim LeBon, David Arnaud
Progress Towards Wise Decision Making
The management literature is not short of tools for helping people to make wiser decisions. This paper outlines another tool so it must be asked how can it justify itself given the substantial work that is already done. We suggest that many tools either fail to properly integrate, or simply lack an analysis of (i) showing
how emotions help or hinder solving the problem, (ii) the role of creative and critical thinking and (Hi), working out what values are at issue in the problem. These three categories can be integrated into a decision-making procedure through an analysis of the stages of decision making While the emphasis that is laid on these stages will differ depending upon the problem, we suggest that wise decision making requires (i) gaining an adequate understanding of the situation, (ii) working out what matters, (Hi) generating options, (iv) selecting an option on the basis of what matters and (v) carrying out the option. As practical philosophers we must ask how each of these stages can be adequately carried out, and here we seek to show how philosophy, and other disciplines, can help for the three areas we identify above as lacunae. In looking at the role of emotions we base our analysis on the Aristotelian and Stoic notion that the core of emotions is that they are judgements. This analysis allows us to make sense of both the rationalist view that emotions are a hindrance, and the romantic notion that emotions are a help. Wise decision making involves unpacking emotions to see what they can reliably tell us about the situation, our values, potential options and how they can motivate us. We suggest ways this task can be achieved. Critical thinking needs to be employed throughout the decision-making procedure so that we fairly and
adequately understand the situation and assess potential values and options. We outline some key skills and interventions that can be employed. Critical thinking needs material to work on so we suggest how creative thinking can be used to reframe the situation, and generate potential values and options. The driving force of making a decision is, or at least should be, the values we wish to realise with our decision; what we think matters. Some decisions are purely prudential and here we draw upon ideas of Nozick, Griffin, Aristotle and Epicurus to suggest ways the decision maker can evaluate their prudential values. For ethical decisions ideas from Mill, Kant and others can help us think through what we wish to achieve. We end with a case study to illustrate how the procedure works in practice.