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Split Second Decision Making

One of the problem solving techniques other than the Rational Decision Making Process is Split Second Decision Making. In this process a manager must rely on their reasoning, intuition, education, experience, knowledge, common sense and confidence in order to arrive at a decision quickly and effectively.

In this kind of decision making we must focus on a small set of key factors which influence the decision rather than relying on a large number of factors, solutions and possible outcomes. This type of decision making allows not time for analysis; it is purely a quick problem solving activity. Quick problem solving may not be the most preferred way to approach strategic decisions or integrated situations, but it is the fastest and the most effective way to fix a problem that needs a fast solution or to stop a situation from deteriorating.  It prevents damages that may have long-term effects. 

In split second decision making time is of the essence, often the decisions need to be made in a minute and sometimes in a few seconds. During this short process of the "making of the decision" you are using your best judgment and that's why it's important to have developed and honed the ability to make the right decision based on a  a few key input variables.  Split second decision making it's about "thinking on your feet"  to save a situation . However, no matter how the decision making happens, there's still a context to it. In this type of decision making, we rely heavily on our past experience, knowledge and memories. This is one of the reasons that aircraft pilots and firemen spend countless hours rehearsing fire drills and flying on the simulators. This is so that when an actual situation occurs when they need to make a decision in the blink of an eye, they are able to sub-consciously draw on their past experiences and memories and make the right decision.

We also do that in use this type of decision making when driving our cars, particularly when avoiding accidents and close calls, we also use this technique when deciding our schedules, what to eat at a restaurant and hundred other situations that require us to make decisions quickly.

Split second decision making is also about relying on our intuition or gut feel and is one of the reasons investors such as Warren Buffet have been so successful in the past. However it would not be a reliable way of deciding whether a country should go to war or not – based on its presidents intuition or gut feel.

One way to improve this ability is to work on your critical thinking skills, critical thinking is using logic, reasoning, reflective thought and informed opinions to make decisions. Critical thinking can be developed through books and websites and also by attending training programs on both critical thinking skills and problem solving techniques. Malcolm Galdwell’s book Blink details this ability in detail and is a great reference guide for split second decision making and is filled with examples and illustrations detailing the concept.

Return from Split Second Decision Making to Decision Making Skills 

Outstanding Leaders consider themselves a work in progress
 Dr Franklin C. Ashby 

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