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The burden of making good decisions

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire

UK


The burden of making good decisions

Making good and informed decisions has featured in many of the articles published in this column. Indeed, decision-making is increasingly recognised as a key competence that both defines and underpins many aspects of modern management and leadership. The process of decision-making and its application thus appear to provide a common interest in many disciplines and domains of enquiry.

March and Simon recognised that the understanding of decision-making was essential for deriving an understanding of the behaviour of organisations. In that tradition, behavioural studies of organisations often embody a descriptive understanding of the processes and influences required to make sense of organisational behaviour patterns. Moreover, Simon has subsequently reasoned that decisions account for the majority of what executives do within organisations, thereby justifying an intense focus on the processes and dynamics surrounding the identification, elaboration, search and choice stages involved in decision making. Many researchers have concluded that management and leadership are fundamentally about making good decisions.

So what is a decision?

Decisions imply choice from between a number of possible courses of action. They are action oriented as making a decision often necessitates some form of planning and committing to a strategy that involves action. The decision situation is bound by a set of constraints that are associated with the situation, and the resolution process may add to the set of constraints as particular action sequences are accepted, rejected, assumed, implied or committed to.

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About the Author

Darren Dalcher, PhD

Author, Series Editor

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire

UK

Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.  Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board.  Prof Dalcher is an academic editorial advisor for the PM World Journal.