Beacon of Light to a Manager Lost Essay

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beacon of light to a manager lost at sea. The five key points presented in the article transition the management from the old economy to the new economy. The first key point is 'A shift from the quantitative approach to management to a qualitative approach.' The second key point is "Focus on The importance of Strategic Planning to innovation." The third key point is 'Transition from the information worker to the knowledge worker.' The fourth key point is 'Fundamental change in the variables involved in human decision-making.' The fifth key point is 'Changes to Leadership and CEO growth Strategy or from incrementalism to rational ritualism to adaptive decision making.'

Essentially, these key points coordinate a shift in the management science paradigm from a rigorous and objective quantitative data-driven approach to a subjective qualitative approach, where tacit knowledge and intuition is of greater value toward management decision making. Human beings were imbued with great gifts from the creator. Previous management styles inhibited this tremendous gift from enabling decision-making prior to the shift in the decision making paradigm. This shift of paradigm is driven by the importance of strategic planning to spur innovation. Strategic planning imbues the intrinsic nature of the leader to determine the best strategy for the organization.

Certainly, there is data involved that the CEO scans and ingests prior to rendering a decision. However, the decision rendered is independent of any specific data retrieved from the environment and of any information that became of that data. As strategic planning became synonymous with executive level leadership responsibility, the importance of knowledge workers in the organization became paramount and necessary as a replacement to the information worker. The variables that were inputs into the old paradigm of managerial decision-making were of less importance in the new model. This fundamental change in the variables arises from the importance of innovation in today's marketplace. Once reserved for burgeoning high technology and medical devices firms, innovation has pervaded into the strategy of nearly all organizations including in the public sector.

This article has merged two diametrically opposed styles of management into a decision making process that enables managers to use their judgment rather than to respond to a data-driven environment. "If you require managers to use decision-making-under-uncertainty techniques to make actual decisions, they will quickly learn how to think differently about the future." (Bryan, 2009) In light of the Humble Decision Making article, this quote seems to hold its truth.

I have always believed intuition or that 'gut feeling' to drive business decisions. Even academically, the gut response is the first answer, which is generally the correct answer on a multiple guess test. As humans, under the power of our Lord, our first response is to give way to emotion and evoke self doubt regarding the decision. The old adage is, 'go with your gut instinct' and this has stood the test of time for a good reason, it is true. This is the opposite of the quantitative approach of management science, which dictates an analysis of data to calculate a value on which a decision is rendered. "Although skills in the qualitative approach are inherent in the manager and usually increase with experience, the skills of the quantitative approach can be learned only by studying the assumptions and methods of management science." (Anderson, Sweeney, Williams, Martin, 2008)

I feel that quantitative business modeling has utility in business decision making at the production and control level. However, conceptual strategic planning and determining strategic direction is not the best use of business modeling. For example, U.S. Air may decide to use modeling techniques to determine the optimal supply of gas to purchase for an estimated number of planes in a fleet, the number of hours of anticipated operation, and the amount of gas used on a filled plane (weight in range). Modeling this type of problem will enable a quantitative solution on which to base a decision. However, if the question were to change to safety, and say that one of those planes has a 50% probability of crashing when carrying a full passenger and fuel load, then the 'gut decision' comes into play rather the quantitative modeling. Indeed, the modeling will give you a calculated answer on which to base a decision. However, will that decision stand if that plane goes down and the families of victims' and the media come looking for answers.

The article enhanced my understanding of business decision making under uncertainty. The 'foggy headed' view of a corporate decision-maker is often ruled by formal procedure, a sort of operations analysis by paralysis. The ability to lead colleagues with tacit knowledge and intuition is of more value than deriving values for decision makers in the eye of uncertainty. Sadly, many organizations continue to convene and discuss monthly projections and base a course of action on environmental data that has not been statistically tested for validity. Only when the data is clean and valid is the process of quantitative decision making a potential benefit to managerial effectiveness. When the situation is to define where the organization needs to be in ten years and the path to get there, the use of quantitative modeling is not necessary as is the God given ability of intuition and foresight.

My views are reinforced and supplemented with the information from the article. Other readings either conflict or agree with the notion of using less quantitative and more qualitative decision making. Humans have been mechanized to use less innate ability and more scholastic ability to demonstrate potential success in problem solving. The cases that demonstrate quantitative procedure to enable success are successful when the world is defined mathematically, such that the problem or unknown can then be expressed as a variable in the function of the equation. This is somewhat against the will of God whom is understood to be unpredictable. For if the movements of the Lord were understood by man, then man would have the capacity to understand God, unfortunately, man's greatest flaw is to misunderstand the Lord.

The HBR article does not conflict with my views on management. Additionally, the procedure defined by the author is intrinsic to my natural inclination of managing dynamic people and organizations. Management literature has a tendency to focus on fact finding, problem solving, and implementation of a solution as a means to solve a quandary. Rarely is it suggested that the solution may need to be amended continuously until the desired results are achieved. The successful outcome of such practices is also a function of the data that is collected and analyzed. When one variable in the management science process changes, then the entire calculation must be redone with the change in x as a function of y or more variables. And although the answer that is provided may give management the inspiration needed to move on, the reality is that environmental variables most likely changed as well rendering the model useless or at least in desperate need of reworking.

The most established and often considered as the best leaders are the individuals that possess the adaptive decision making ability, able to scan and create solutions to problems while integrating a human understanding into the mental equation. Often times management science is unable to operationalize the construct of emotional intelligence and other intangible behaviors of humans to obtain a value that can be measured. If a value is achieved and a process created, the validity of such a procedure as predicted accuracy across the entire spectrum of human population is likely nil. The better measure and driver of emotional intelligence and human development/leadership is a leader with the capacity to scan the environment and whom is capable of mentally evaluating the potential validity of a quantitative approach yet whom is comfortable with rendering a subjective decision…[continue]

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