Decision Options

Not every decision is the same.  In fact, there are no two decisions exactly alike.  There may be similar circumstances but the details will vary from decision to decision.  There are three major types of decisions to make and numerous variables which will affect those decisions.

Types of decisions

Christian leaders are faced with three types of decisions: cyclical, confrontational,
and innovational.

Cyclical decisions are those which recur repeatedly and are predictable. They have a definite cause and effect relationship. The repetition often permits establishing a policy or procedure for handling the decision. The outcome of these decisions is fairly certain. These cyclical decisions are also called programmed, generic, routine, or computational decisions.

Confrontational decisions are forced on the leader by circumstances or events. They are based on crises or emergencies that always seem to be popping up and demanding a solution. They are also called negotiated and compromise decisions.

Innovational decisions occur only when sought out. They only happen when a decision is made to do something new or different. These are the kind of decisions that follow an effort to move ahead. The outcome is uncertain with some degree of risk. These types of decisions may require more judgment, have unknown criteria, and uncertain cause and effect relationships. They are also called non-programmed, unique, inspirational, judgmental, creative, adaptive, or entrepreneurial decisions.

A climate for decision-making

Decision-making occurs in a special climate. This climate has an impact on the
process. There are at least seven factors that interact in this climate:

1. A need for action does exist that requires a decision. There is no need to make a decision unless there is a real need. As long as things are going well, and nothing happens, then no new decision is needed. The popular saying is “if it is not broke, don’t fix it.” If something upsets the status quo in such a way that something else needs to be done, then a decision needs to be made.

2. The conditions will degenerate if a decision is delayed. This is a familiar part of the climate for decision-making, and often produces too much haste. This may be a real part of the climate, or just an imagined part. There are times when the conditions are real and haste is required or the conditions may degenerate to the point of being uncorrectable.

3. There is insufficient data to make the decision, but the decision must be made anyway. Many times leaders will say, “I wish I had more information” or “I wish I knew more about what was going to happen.” A lot of decisions require some element of forecasting, and that type of information is very uncertain.

4. There is an element of risk. Decision-making always takes place in an environment of risk. A decision maker is a risk taker. Failure is a possibility if the wrong decision is made. This is a part of the risk. The wrong decision can cause real problems. Success is a possibility if the right decision is made. This is the goal of every decision maker.

5. More than one workable solution exists. The decision-making climate is rarely black and white; usually there are a lot of different shades of gray to consider. Brainstorming and other group involvement methods can produce many possible solutions to almost any decision.

6. Many major decisions that involve a major change from tradition are voted down at least once before being adopted. It is very typical for a church considering relocating the facilities to vote against relocation two or three times before they decide to move.

7. Decisions tend to be progressive. They build upon one another. Often single decisions that seem insignificant are, in reality, gradual steps in an ultimate direction. Deep pits are begun with a single shovelful of dirt, and mountains are climbed one step at a time.

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