Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
1.1: Case Study: B. Ebbers Creates Biased Decision-Making at WorldCom URL Decision-Making

Read the introduction and section 11.1, which includes a case study featuring the story of Bernard Ebbers. As the CEO and top manager of a Fortune 500 company called WorldCom, Mr. Ebbers was frequently identified as a difficult man to work for - to the extent that managers working for him often avoided telling him vital information that might have shaped how he made executive decisions. Further adding to the severity of this systemic communication breakdown, Mr. Ebbers was extremely resistant to change - a quality that produces failures in management. Use this case as a foundational analysis of all the information presented in this course. In addition, you may want to review this case again after completing this unit's readings in order to consider how the outcomes at WorldCom might have been prevented.

1.2: The Foundation of Management Decision-Making URL Understanding Decision-Making

Read this section, which offers a definition of decision-making as well as a list of ethical questions you should ask yourself when making a critical decision. This reading also provides you with detailed discussions of different types of decisions, when to employ various approaches in decision-making, and how to determine which decision-making process is the appropriate one for any given situation.

1.3: Decision-Making and Management Challenges URL Faulty Decision-Making

Read this section, which addresses some of the obstacles that you may encounter during the decision-making process. Whenever a manager has to make a decision, he or she will encounter challenges. Such obstacles often arise from the biases of other people and can negatively impact the decision-making process. This reading discusses some commonly expressed biases and how to avoid letting them undermine your decision-making process.

1.4: Groupthink in the Decision-Making Process URL Decision-Making in Groups

Read this section, which explores the effects of groupthink on the decision-making process. This reading includes a compare-and-contrast outline for individual decision-making and group decision-making. Pay careful attention to the pros and cons of each and as well as the techniques associated with each. Finally, make sure you fully understand why groupthink is not a healthy habit for a manager or an organization.

1.5: Developing Your Own Management Decision-Making Skills URL Developing Your Personal Decision-Making Skills

Read this section, which suggests some techniques for customizing and maximizing your own managerial decision-making skills. You will be taught how to preemptively imagine and even avoid a particular issue altogether - a technique known as the "premortem process." The goal behind learning such a process is to minimize or even prevent bad decision-making.

1.6: Framing a Decision Page Framing a Decision

Read this article and think about the ways in which you make decisions. Do you frame the decision first? What are the benefits of this framing process? How can you apply some of these ideas to decisions that you may be in the process of making?

2.1: The Decision-Making Process Page Making Great Decisions

Read this article and think about the questions that you typically ask yourself when making decisions.

When you make a decision, do you believe that there is always just one route to your desired outcome? Using this reading as a guide, prepare a productivity table for some of the tasks that are currently on your to-do list. Are the items that come up as priorities the same items that you truly believe to be priorities?

URL Subunit 2.1 Discussion

Reflect on the article that you have just read about making decisions. Do you feel confident in your own decision-making skills? Are you able to make a decision and then stay the course and see your actions through to completion? Share your thoughts on these questions in the course discussion forum by clicking on the link above and creating a free Saylor Foundation School account (if you have not already done so). Read the responses that other students have posted and post your own comments on the forum. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with your peers and to receive meaningful feedback of your own.

2.2: Decision-Making Techniques Page How to Make Better Decisions

Read this article and consider the types of decisions you have made in the past.

Can you determine, in retrospect, which types of decisions they were? Take a decision that you are currently considering and write a plan about how to resolve it. Does your decision-making plan match the steps outlined in this reading? If not, how can your plan be adjusted to accommodate the 10 steps so that you can ensure your decision-making process will be effective?

2.3: The Challenges of Decision-Making Page The Art of Choosing

Watch this lecture by Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University Business School. Iyegar studies how we make choices and how we feel about the choices we make. Speaking at a conference, Iyengar discusses both trivial choices (such as deciding whether to drink Coke or Pepsi) and profound ones. Iyengar's groundbreaking research has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.

2.4: Decision-Making Page Decision-Making

Read this article and consider the areas within your organization where the majority of decisions are made.

Consider the following questions: Are the decision-making topics in your organization (or one you are familiar with) the same as those addressed in the McKinsey survey? Do decisions typically meet expectations within your organization? Do you find that decisions made within your organization are more effective when the process includes employees who are carrying out the implementation of decisions?

2.5: Complex Decision-Making Page The Emergent Genius of Ant Colonies

Watch this fascinating video on the world of ants and how each member of an ant colony knows its task. Gordon's research offers insights into all manner of complex systems, including decision-making in organizations.