Article (February-2018)


New challenges, old answers!

Dr. Upinder Dhar & Dr. Santosh Dhar

Designation : -   Vice Chancellor & Dean - Faculty of Doctoral Studies and Research

Organization : -  Shri Vaishnav Vidyapeeth Vishwavidyalaya, Indore


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The use of IT has helped organisations to be quick and transparent in their decision - making. Earlier, the most important decisions were kept secret. The process was not transparent. The decisions were often taken behind closed doors. The decision makers used to propagate that they do not want outside influencers to prevent an impartial decision being made with a free and frank discussion. On the other hand, the secrecy used to prevent open debate, opposition and the flow of information. It also protected decision - makers from being exposed and being presented in an unfavourable flavour.
Decision - makers considered themselves as leaders with the responsibility to act on behalf of others. They used to make others believe that the decisions and actions may not always be palatable but shall have to be made, nevertheless, in the long - term interests of all concerned. The real reason used to be that decision - makers had their own secret agendas (sometimes, unfortunately, these were unethical and in the interest of the decision - makers only) and did not want this to be disturbed or undergo a rethinking due to pressures from various stakeholders.
Effective decisions and extraordinary powers
The secrecy of the decision - making process was often carried into the recording of minutes. The decision was recorded and not the process by which the decision makers had arrived at it. Most often the recordings were treated as classified information and not for access to everybody. This protection was given sanctity by using the labels, "in the interest of national security" or "in the interest of organisation". The studies of how important decisions were made reveal that they were often made based on vague and inadequate information. Instead of logic, the emotions often played a significant role. Costs, benefits and consequences were not systematically evaluated. The views of the dominating person influenced the decision and created the phenomenon of "groupthink".
Public debates do not fall in the category of decision - making as the speakers have already made up their minds and want to put forth their stated positions. Decision - making by voting after debates is not generally influenced by what is presented to them, but by predetermined stands, political affiliations and lobbying. Information technology (IT) has changed all this to a great extent. Decision is a characteristic of the "rational world" where "choice" is possible - if there is no choice, no decision is required, except "understanding and acceptance". The rational world works on facts and information, which are not only obtainable but observable too. IT creates the ecosystem for rational decisions by offering adequate scope for obtaining, analyzing and presenting information so that there is transparency, objectivity and a total view of all the relevant aspects with caution where information is inadequate or inappropriate. IT also facilitates in the recording the process by which the decision is arrived at, and evaluating the decision against various criteria.  Intuition played a major role in decision - making, because the cost and feasibility of making decisions using information did not justify its collection, analysis, presentation and discussion. The experience of the decision - maker was important, while the logic of the decision was often difficult to explain. Those consistently making effective decisions were credited with extraordinary powers. CEOs that showed growth in the profit and stock market appreciation ran their organisations in the way they liked without anyone daring to challenge their decisions.