Whatever it Takes the Realities of Managerial Decision Making


The main focus of this book is to develop strategic
decision making and critical thinking in the workplace and
in everyday life. Situation is which corporate leaders, and
front line managers have been highlighted to emphasis the
importance of understanding how individuals and groups
"think" and "make decisions."
This book is designed to help the reader learn how to
enhance the effectiveness of their own personal style and
improve the dynamics of the groups they interact with and
manage. The techniques are designed to increase the
productivity and impact of executives on their
organizations by enhancing their strategic decision-making
and critical-thinking skills.
Although not directly stated, key problem solving and
decision-making skills empower one to:
 + Increase your ability to assess thinking styles of
other people and have a greater impact in their decisions. 
 + Distinguish between "experience" and effectively
learning from experiences. 
 + Learn to envision future possibilities within a
realistic and defensible framework. 
 + Gain insight into common decision-making traps and how
to avoid them. 
 + Discover practical techniques for enhancing individual
 + Increase your ability to make sound judgments and add
value to the organization. 
To be a more effective decision-maker Whatever It Takes
discusses how to identify a problem, gathering information,
or data, how to analyze this data and consider
alternatives, how to implement action, and the final step
is how to follow-up, evaluate and monitor a plan once it is
The message in chapter one is that problems do not have a
clear beginning or end, instead they flow like a stream of
events that are not always easy to solve or recognize. Even
if a problem is recognized, it is often ill-defined, or
ignored because although the effect is clear, the cause may
not be, or the problem simply does not have the same
priority and other decisions are made.
It is the accumulation of choices that creates the
importance or urgency to respond. Problems have no certain
order, and present themselves in bit and pieces, rather
than a single even with a neat beginning and end. It is
with this understanding that a manager can begin to look at
how information, events and situations are defined as
Meaning emerges from this murky stream as a manager digs
out the pertinent information and interprets it against
their knowledge, work experience and expertise. In the
situation where the channels of information are reliable
and timely the problem is obvious, however this often is
not the case. Whatever It Takes explores quantitative
indicators which detect discrepancies by comparing an
existing state of affairs and the differences between an
existing and a desire state of affairs that announce the
presence of problems.
Contextual Factors
Contextual factors are discussed. These elements pertain to
the urgency of the problem. Perceived as urgency can lead
to quick action. Contextual factors also determine how a
problem is defined. Managers may choose to see or define a
problem as of a lesser degree, and, often times, simplify
the problem in order to deal with it.
A basic fact about the decision-making process is that the
more people that get involved, the longer it takes and the
harder it is to reach a decision.
How a manager defines a problem will in turn influence the
emergence of others with vested interest and have power. A
skilled manager has the ability to balance power and vested
Circumstances under which managers are most like to take
action when the are three elements present:
 1. The Problem is Recognized 
 2. Necessary Resources 
 3. There is External Pressure 
A Venn Diagram is used to illustrate the reality of what
move a manager into action. It is only when a manager is
able to finesse these three elements that he/she have any
degree of control over the problems that confront them.
 A Venn diagram uses set of circles in which the position
and overlap indicate how the different sets of terms are
related. These diagrams are used to test the validity of an
argument which is a form of deductive reasoning
Quick Action Theory
Quick action has do with reacting quickly to a problem or
situation that requires immediate attention. A classic case
requiring quick action is the business turnaround. For
quick action to ensure, speed is best maintained when there
is one decision-maker especially if there is a limited
amount time to search for information or there is limited
information available. Reliance on a few sources does not
imply they that the manager is a "Yes Man/Woman"
Convoluted Action Theory
When more complicated problems are recognized it is
necessary to employ the convoluted action theory. The
characteristics of this theory are: 

 + The process is relatively long. 
 + Multiple parties are involved 
 + An extensive amount of research is necessary 
Convoluted action is not compact, it is fragmented
extended, and interrupted. And, when it is delayed, it
takes one step backward for every two steps forward. 

After Action
After a decision is made, everyone waits to see the effect.
In some instances the cause and effect are apparent. Other
times, problems seem to go away, but turn up again later,
or there is an effect, no connection to a cause. At times,
there are instances where the causes are obvious, but the
effects are still unknown. Even when an action has an
intended effect, it may have multiple endstates-intended
and unintended results.
Whatever It Takes explains that problems resurface because
that there may have been a decision to act, but nothing was
implemented because responsibility was unclear. It also
alerts the reader to the fact that a manager's tenancy is
to rationalize failure and is discouraged by setbacks.
However, if intended result is achieved, or not sometimes
is beyond the control of either the manager or the company
for which he/she works. 

Causality is problematic. Regardless of how clear or
unclear he decision, effect or responsibility, the
consequences of action is still subject to debate over
time. Different people interpret things differently. An
Example of this premise is given in Whatever It Takes is
the IBM's STRETCH computer. Initially the project is
considered a total failure. Years after the fact, this
declaration was recanted and proclaimed the best investment

Decisions amount and problem have a proclivity to recur.
This refers to the process in which over time, satisfactory
decisions set procedures and set the groundwork for policy.
Inclosing, Whatever It Takes states that 

The process by which decision-making practices changes is
basically the same process as that which is being changed.
Organizations takes action on this front in fundamentally
the same way they take action on any other front-by doing
whatever it takes.


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